It has been a while since I last posted. Due to work I haven't really found the time to read many books, but a few days ago I stumbled upon a book that immediately caught my interest called:
'Servant of Steel (Chaos Awakens)'by Heath Pfaff.
‘Having two of his fingers cut off at an early age hadn't done much to make Xandrith an agreeable fellow. Besides marking him as a pariah and having him shunned by even his own family, it had also hurt. A lot. Being stripped of a few of his fingers and cast out of the Order of Mages had left him bitter and angry, but if there was any consolation to be had it was that he was doing rather well in his new line of work. While perforating people for money might not have been the most noble of callings, it was quite lucrative. Well, it had been quite lucrative.
In a conspiracy of fate seemingly beyond his control, Xan soon finds himself facing a dilemma of conscience, and that isn't something he's familiar with. One dilemma leads to another, and before long the mage-turned-assassin finds himself performing more and more honorable deeds. Worse yet, without even attempting to do so he manages to acquire friends and to develop a sense of compassion.
As Xan struggles with his burgeoning humanity, a terrible darkness begins to wake in the world. The Order of Mages, once an overbearing power of control, seems to be losing its grip as a terrifying doom of their own creation rises in the north. As if that wasn't enough, the horror brought upon the world by the folly of the mages may only be the precursor to something far more sinister.’
The covers a bit quirky and while it drew my interest in initially, it was the blurb that hooked me in, enough to pay a relatively princely sum of £4.66 or $7.10 for a self published kindle. Normally I shy away from self published books that cost that much but I could obviously see that the author had invested a lot of care into the book. And if I need to pay a bit more for a crisp, carefully put together book, then that's fine with me.
One thing I hate is an author who half-heartedly slaps some words together to form a ‘book’ - and I use that term loosely - so that they can make some quick money. If an author isn’t willing to invest enough time and effort into a book, then why should readers be willing to pay for it?
Anyway, onto the book....
It has been some time since I’ve read a book with an assassin as the main character. The last one I believe was Brent Weeks, since then I’ve stayed away from those particular story lines, as I felt they’ve been done to death (no pun intended).
The novel starts of with our protagonist, Xandrith or Xan, for short heading of to meet a client, who seeks the death of a mage. And from here the story takes off. The book starts off with a pace to it that immediately drew me in and got me turning the pages, eager to read on.
The author, Heath Pfaff, has created a character in Xan that I instantly came to like. He wasn’t your typical silent, broody - mood killer to be around - type of character that you normally find in assassins. Instead what Pfaff gave us was an intelligent, thoughtful and more importantly realistic character. Someone who you can imagine being a killer, an assassin born out of necessity from his environment.
It was only during the middle section of the book did my thoughts begin to wander. The storyline almost abruptly changes and without trying give too much away, a major character in the book suddenly becomes obsolete and fades to the background. Which I found a great shame as I really enjoyed the character. And from there on, the book failed to grip me with the same intense fascination as the beginning did. I found myself almost hesitantly drifting through large sections of text, ploughing on with the hope that the story might pick up.
Which it did, I'm glad to say, but not until the last few chapters. The book ends with a cliff hanger, not a dramatic one in which I'm agonising over the days until the next installment but one in which I'm curious as to see what happens next.
You my be reading this review and think that I didn't enjoy the book, which couldn't be further from the truth. This is a fantasy book that doesn't follow your typical assassin storyline and there were some elements in the novel that was new. And if you're a regular fantasy reader, like me, then you will know how hard that is to achieve.
The book is rather costly as I've mentioned at the start and I can imagine that putting off quite a few perspective readers but the author has clearly invested a lot of energy into producing a book that can rival published books in terms of cover art, editing, grammar etc. At no point in the book did I stop to re-read a sentence because it didn't flow or look right and I certainly didn't find any glaring spelling mistakes.
So what I'm trying to summarise is that Heath Pfaff has created a book that would not look out of place in a bookstore and that is a compliment I would imagine most self published authors would hope to inspire to.
In conclusion, while this book hooked me in from the start with an irresistible bait, it kind of lost its way through the middle and only drew me back in at the very end. I'm in two minds as to whether or not I would recommend this book at the price it's selling at currently. However, I can say with almost certainty, that if the price was a bit lower than I would implore fantasy readers to buy it.
But, saying that, the price as it stands now, I would say give this book a go if you're not short on cash and are looking for a book that offers a bit of a twist to the normal convention. Otherwise, wait and see if the author lowers the price.
My rating out of 10 stars:
6 Stars – I was tempted to give it a 7 but in the end opted for a 6. If I had gone into decimals then I would have given it 6.99. I will be keeping an eye out for the sequel, but more out of curiosity than anticipation.
Until then, have a great day and to keep up to date on my next post, follow my twitter account.