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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

3.5 on the Masq Scale. The Tattered Banner by @DuncanMHamilton #fantasy #bookreview




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The Tattered Banner

(Society of the Sword Volume 1)



Written by Duncan M. Hamilton




Genre: Fantasy


Book Synopsis


Unique talent always attracts attention…


In a world where magic is outlawed, ability with a sword is prized above all else. For Soren this means the chance to live out his dreams.

Plucked from a life of privation, he is given a coveted place at Ostenheim’s Academy of Swordsmanship, an opportunity beyond belief.

Opportunity is not always what it seems however, and gifts rarely come without conditions. Soren becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of intrigue and treachery that could cost him not just his dreams, but also his life.

Melissa McPhail's Review


The Tattered Banner is the story of Soren, an orphan who moves from stealing bread for his dinner to the relative excess of the Academy of swordsmen after he is seen defending himself in the slums of Ostenheim by one of the great Banneret swordsmen of their day: Amero, Count of Moreno.

The mysterious and enigmatic Amero sees talent within Soren and offers to sponsor him at the Academy. But Soren soon discovers that the Count’s benevolence has a price, and even before Soren’s time at the Academy is complete, his skills have been put to deadly use.

The author spends most of the early part of the book bringing us through Soren’s growth as a swordsman and introducing his special talent, which remains mysterious and misunderstood. Readers who enjoy coming of age fantasies will find this time in Soren’s growth fascinating. The detail provided about swordplay and the world of the Academy kept my interest, but I also found that this same detail made the story drag at times. I didn’t become invested in Soren as a character until he’d had his first adventure away from the Academy.

The plot of The Tattered Banner is well thought out, and the author does a nice job crafting a web of intrigue to trap both Soren and the reader. Although somewhat predictable at points, Moreno’s machinations (and Soren’s pitfalls) kept the story moving at a brisker pace through the latter half of the book.

The author presented well the naivety of a character like Soren, who was transplanted from eking out a living in the streets into a world of court intrigue. Soren is likable, remarkably honest, and genuine in his intentions. His exploits and bravery reminded me of Kerbouchard, the intrepid adventurer of L’Amour’s "The Walking Drum." Soren has an endearing earnestness about him, which makes it all the more painful to see him failing time and again, tripped by the Count of Moreno’s superior experience and intellect.

The Tattered Banner offers a well-crafted world, with a history dating back centuries to a darker time of Mages and magic. The Mages were said to have once posed a threat to the land of Ostia, but we never learn much about the wars or the Mages’ treasons. Similarly, Soren is seen to possess a magical ability said to have been prevalent in the time of the Mages, yet we frustratingly learn very little about it.

The lack of explanation of the magic and the kingdom’s history left only the generality of a darker time, which prevented me from being able to contribute to the story as a reader by way of my own opinions, thoughts or conjecture. It left the story feeling a bit flat overall. I wished that the author had provided more of this history so that the magic’s promise, or its dangers, might be better understood—and thereby hoped for or feared—adding another layer of depth and texture to his world.

Review Disclaimer: Book provided in exchange for an honest review.

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