Braylar is still poisoned by the memories of those slain by his unholy flail Bloodsounder, and attempts to counter this sickness have proven ineffectual. The Syldoonian Emperor, Cynead, has solidified his power in unprecedented ways, and Braylar and company are recalled to the capital to swear fealty. Braylar must decide if he can trust his sister, Soffjian, with the secret that is killing him. She has powerful memory magics that might be able to save him from Bloodsounder's effects, but she has political allegiances that are not his own. Arki and others in the company try to get Soffjian and Braylar to trust one another, but politics in the capital prove to be complicated and dangerous. Deposed emperor Thumarr plots to remove the repressive Cynead, and Braylar and Soffjian are at the heart of his plans. The distance between "favored shadow agent of the emperor" and "exiled traitor" is unsurprisingly small. But it is filled with blind twists and unexpected turns. Before the journey is over, Arki will chronicle the true intentions of Emperor Cynead and Soffjian.
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Fertile grounds for so much more
Veil of the Deserters picks up exactly where Scourge of the Betrayer left off. And by that, I mean it starts right up following the end of Book One. It took me a bit to recall what all events had happened at the end of the first book, but pretty soon I was back into the story.
Once again we follow our bookish narrator Arki as he follows the Syldoon. While still a wimp, Arki is more active in this book as he's getting a little more used to his companions. The characters are wonderful and the dialogue (especially Mulldoos') is spectacular. We also get to meet a character even more intimidating, scheming, and bad-ass than Captain Killcoin. His sister. Salyards introduces us to her as well as a very awesome magic system.
Like with Book 1, expect some great action scenes. The world is very well done and what I really enjoy about it is that there is a grand sense of history and scale, but Salyards doesn't stop and puke out a bunch of history at you like many other authors do. Instead, he slowly reveals the world, building on it and allowing it to feel more natural.
Veil of the Deserters has more of an ending that Book 1 had, at least it felt more like an end. Scourge of the Betrayer just sort of stops, while this book closes with a promise that things are about to get a whole lot worse for our heroes.
Narrator Khris Chung has done an outstanding job. I enjoyed his timing in delivery, unique voices for each character, and I really like that he adds those little details such as sighs and laughs when appropriate. It's a true performance rather than a simple reading.
- Rev. Zombie