Blade Lord

The Decallion series Book 1

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
439 Pages
Reviewed on 01/24/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Blade Lord is the first entry in The Decallion series by Susan Hartland and an engrossing read for fans of epic fantasy. It is a story that is intricately woven with fascinating plot points and a game of interests that will immediately catch the attention of readers. Decallion, unlike tethered blade lords, is a free-spirited soul, a blade lord with allegiance to none of the rulers in the Circle Kingdoms. When he is abducted and sold to the Guildlands on the way to a ceremony, his destiny becomes linked to that of a female assassin who will do anything to save his soul. Her mission has always been to hunt and kill men who unlawfully learn to read and write in a world ruled by women. The future looks grim with an immortal tyrant preparing to return to the Circle Kingdoms. Who will stop him?

Susan Hartland braids multiple points of view and different, conflicting worlds into a richly detailed and elaborate story, with tension and stakes growing through each page. The characters are realistic, and they evolve in worlds that have their own rules and unique ways of functioning. The author uses suspense to build interest in readers, and it is most evident in the way the relationship between Decallion and Sinnabar is written. The prose leaps gorgeously off the pages, characterized by strong and vivid descriptions and well-crafted dialogues. Blade Lord has everything I look for in fantasy — jaw-dropping action, a magical world to explore, extraordinary characters, and a conflicted hero. Susan Hartland earns the right to have her name among those of masters of epic fantasy, thanks to her great storytelling skills and gift for imaginative narrative.

K.C. Finn

Blade Lord is a work of fiction in the fantasy, action, and adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Susan Hartland. Forming the first novel in the Decallion series, the work is suited to mature reading audiences owing to scenes of graphic fantasy violence and those of a sexual nature. In a fascinating world quite unlike our own, we find ourselves in a magical matriarchy where women control the power of the written word. Assassin Sinnabar is usually sent after men who unlawfully learn to read and write, but when a valuable warrior, Decallion, is kidnapped, it will set off a chain of events sure to rock not just her kingdom, but the entire realm beyond.

Author Susan Hartland has crafted the opening to a truly thrilling new fantasy series that has all the dark corners and sharp edges that its title and premise foretell. To start with, the worldbuilding is superb, not just in its attention to small atmospheric details in each busy street or dark chamber, but in the overall ethos of the world. The magical lore, politics, and military all beautifully intertwine to craft a complex field of battle, and our central characters hang in the balance in realistic, nail-biting ways throughout the tale because of it. The narrative development is also replete with finishing touches, from the sharp and witty dialogue to Sinnabar’s vengeful body language and Decallion’s physical power. Overall, I would certainly recommend Blade Lord to fantasy fans everywhere as an immersive blockbuster start to a fantastic new series.

Eduardo Aduna

Blade Lord, the first book of author S.J. Hartland's The Decallion series, tells the tale of two lovers kept apart by circumstance and fate in a world rife with magic, deception, and intrigue. Decallion, a young blade lord, must learn to grow into his own as his lover, Sinnabar, navigates a realm filled with insidious characters in a bid to betray all that she has ever known. Their fates become intertwined with that of Gedeon, a charismatic outlaw with plans of his own.

Character building is central to an epic fantasy novel and S.J. Hartland excels in letting readers live in the heads of both protagonists and antagonists. Each event, each action has an impact on her characters' psyches, leading to growth, knowledge, and oftentimes guilt and regret. Every chapter elucidates a new facet of her main characters in response to a world hell-bent on controlling their lives. The world that Decallion, Gedeon, and Sinnabar live in is rich in detail and lore, while still hinting at numerous hidden mysteries left uncovered.

S.J. Hartland has a fighter’s understanding of action scenes, writing in a way that makes readers feel every swipe and parry, and makes them flinch whenever a character draws blood. Epic fantasies are all about drawing readers in and making them part of a character’s journey and seeing how this journey impacts the world they live in, and in this regard, Blade Lord is an excellent, enticing read and a rousing start to a beguiling new epic fantasy series.