Trampling in the Land of Woe

Hellbound Book 1

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
287 Pages
Reviewed on 04/24/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Trampling in the Land of Woe is a work of fiction in the dark fantasy, adventure, and thriller sub-genres, and was penned by author William Galaini as the opening novel to the Hellbound series. The work is intended for the mature adult reading audience and contains explicit language throughout, graphic violence, and moderate closed-door sexual references. We find ourselves in a hellishly fantastic version of the Nine Circles, where myth, legend, and religiosity all get a gorgeous steampunk twist. We find ourselves following the footsteps of Hephaestion as he battles the underworld to rescue his lover, Alexander the Great, from Hell’s darkest torments. What results is a very engrossing dark fantasy tale that is sure to keep readers turning the pages from cover to cover.

Author William Galaini has crafted a superb work of religious fantasy fiction with plenty of interesting twists, steampunk stylings, and high-octane action moments to offer its readers. This is a work that holds both style and substance, balancing the lore and dangers of this newly imagined industrial hellscape against the emotive central focus of the novel, and the journey of protagonist Hephaestion to rescue the man he loves. What results is a well-planned, well-plotted, and cinematically written exploration of many interesting concepts, which also has a fiercely beating heart and a very relatable personal story at its burning core. Overall, I would highly recommend Trampling in the Land of Woe to fans of genre-bending books, clever reimaginings of the Inferno, and for dark fantasy enthusiasts everywhere.

Pikasho Deka

Trampling in the Land of Woe is the first installment of author William Galaini's Hellbound series. Trapped in Purgatory amongst other lost souls, Hephaestion spends his days making plans to break into the Pit and rescue his king and lover, Alexander the Great. After successfully smuggling himself into the city of New Dis, Hephaestion finds unexpected hospitality in the home of compulsive gambler Yitzhak Isserles and his wife, Adina. Seeking salvation for his son's soul, Yitz decides to help Hephaestion in his quest and introduces him to a fierce woman named Boudica. But their descent into the Pit goes far from smoothly as their plans fall in direct contrast to the objectives of the Jesuits led by Provost-General Eggert van der Meer.

Fast-paced, action-packed, and weirdly entertaining, Trampling in the Land of Woe feels like a cannon blast of a start to a series with a highly unique premise. William Galaini wastes no time setting things in motion as the plot moves at a blistering pace right off the bat with Hephaestion aboard The Bonny Sweetheart. The characters feel fully fleshed-out and relatable as their motives seem easily discernable from their backstories. William Galaini uses multiple flashback scenes to provide considerable background information about Hephaestion's past that helps to showcase the motives behind his actions. Yitz, Hephaestion, Adina, and Boudica were my favorite characters in the story. I found a surprising amount of humor spread throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed Trampling in the Land of Woe. I would recommend it to fans of action-packed fantasy novels.

Rabia Tanveer

Trampling in the Land of Woe is the first novel in the Hellbound series by William Galaini. What would you do for the person you love? Would you go to the depths of hell to rescue them? That is exactly what Hephaestion does. Alexander the Great is in the pits of hell, and Hephaestion is ready to do whatever it takes to get him out of there, starting a journey from Purgatory where Ulfric and several other companions are in search of Alexander before it is too late. The journey ahead is far more grueling than he ever anticipated. The Hellbeasts want him, and someone far more powerful is dogging his every step. Hephaestion does not have a lot of time, but he does have the urge and the fire to find Alexander before his soul is truly lost in hell.

If Dante’s The Divine Comedy was written by a modern writer, it would be very close to this. As a literature student, The Divine Comedy inspired me, and this novel reignited the inspiration in me. Hephaestion’s single-minded determination to find Alexander and get him out of hell is the driving force of the story. His own journey out of Purgatory is difficult; he is trampled by attacks from Jesuits and the Hellbeasts, but he wants to get Alexander out of there as soon as possible. Author William Galaini set the tone of the story from the very beginning with the dialogues between Hephaestion and Ulfric. The plot moves at a steady pace, and you will also notice how the dialogues play a vital role in the story. They give an insight into the minds of the characters and what they are feeling. The descriptions of hell and Hephaestion’s journey to get to Alexander are incredible. Galaini pushes the senses of readers, gives them points of interest, and makes sure they stay with Hephaestion until the end.