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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
The Scoundrel's Blade is a work in the epic dark fantasy and adventure subgenres, and it forms the first novel of the Chronicles of an Outcast series. It is best suited to a mature reading audience owing to some scenes of violence and sexual violence. Penned by Alkiviadis E. Halkiotis, this gritty and intricately crafted fantasy story takes us into the world of Avaelin society, where we meet the elf Avathar. During his coming-of-age ceremony, the young man is plagued by dangerous visions of demonic forces and commits an atrocity so great that he banishes himself at once. So begins a dark adventure where the demons of the mind are just as sinister as those of the wider world.
Alkiviadis E. Halkiotis has crafted a fascinating world of fantasy interspersed with a multi-genre approach, incorporating psychological thriller, interpersonal drama, horror, and action-adventure elements to form a true epic that never lets up on suspense or drama. One of its core strengths is in the lead character, Avathar, whose internal struggles and anti-hero narrative make for compelling reading and a genuine unpredictability of where his nightmarish existence may lead us next. I also found that worldbuilding was a slow and steady success, which didn’t overload me at the start but formed a complete and immersive picture the more I read. The dialogue is a particular triumph, treading that careful balance between a slick and accessible speaking style to show off the characters’ attitudes and humor without losing some of the grandiosity of classic fantasy. Overall, The Scoundrel's Blade is a fantastic start to what promises to be an epic fantasy series, and I can’t wait to see what more this author has to offer.