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The Maleficent Seven

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When you are all out of heroes, all that's left are the villains. Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knee When you are all out of heroes, all that's left are the villains. Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knees... Until the day she abandoned her army, on the eve of total victory. 40 years later, she must bring her former captains back together for one final stand, in the small town of Tarnbrooke - the last bastion against a fanatical new enemy tearing through the land, intent on finishing the job Black Herran started years before. Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope.


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When you are all out of heroes, all that's left are the villains. Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knee When you are all out of heroes, all that's left are the villains. Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knees... Until the day she abandoned her army, on the eve of total victory. 40 years later, she must bring her former captains back together for one final stand, in the small town of Tarnbrooke - the last bastion against a fanatical new enemy tearing through the land, intent on finishing the job Black Herran started years before. Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope.

30 review for The Maleficent Seven

  1. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    If grimdark was fun. A fabulously enjoyable romp where the Evil Monster Horde are the protagonists and we root for them even as they scheme, betray, and mass murder. Terrific concept: we side with the monstrous horde of evil against the holy knights because religious fanatics are even worse than monsters. Nicely executed--horrendously violent but in a sufficiently cartoonish way to make it fun, just enough likeability from most of the seven to keep the reader emotionally engaged and rooting for If grimdark was fun. A fabulously enjoyable romp where the Evil Monster Horde are the protagonists and we root for them even as they scheme, betray, and mass murder. Terrific concept: we side with the monstrous horde of evil against the holy knights because religious fanatics are even worse than monsters. Nicely executed--horrendously violent but in a sufficiently cartoonish way to make it fun, just enough likeability from most of the seven to keep the reader emotionally engaged and rooting for the good (bad) guys, while never forgetting they are monsters, some excellent comeuppances, and even a redemption. Plus a couple of more normal characters to remind us what they're all fighting for, or against. And what a relief to read a book that world-builds on page so deftly, rather than opening with a lexicon of characters to memorise, set of maps, or several pages of grammatical notes on forms of address. There is a point when starting a fantasy novel makes you feel like you're about to sit a Geography GCSE and I lack the patience. Immense gory shameless fun.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rob Hayes

    Not really sure if I'm allowed to rate or properly review yet... The Maleficent Seven is like Kings of the Wyld smooshed together with Suicide Squad into a glorious, gory, sweary melee. Not really sure if I'm allowed to rate or properly review yet... The Maleficent Seven is like Kings of the Wyld smooshed together with Suicide Squad into a glorious, gory, sweary melee.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul O'Neill

    One of the best things I've ever read. Just what I needed. Sheer, unbridled fun. I'd happily read a standalone book on each of the seven main characters. Would love to read more from this world. One of the best things I've ever read. Just what I needed. Sheer, unbridled fun. I'd happily read a standalone book on each of the seven main characters. Would love to read more from this world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Holly (The GrimDragon)

    "As she marched through the forest with the might of her clan at her back she felt the stirrings of bloodlust again, the likes of which she had not felt in years. She hoped the strange humans would prove a worthy challenge." The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston is what happens when the world is all out of heroes, leaving only villains. Big thanks to the radical folks over at Angry Robot Books for sending me a copy! Black Herran is a demonologist who, on the brink of victory which would have gi "As she marched through the forest with the might of her clan at her back she felt the stirrings of bloodlust again, the likes of which she had not felt in years. She hoped the strange humans would prove a worthy challenge." The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston is what happens when the world is all out of heroes, leaving only villains. Big thanks to the radical folks over at Angry Robot Books for sending me a copy! Black Herran is a demonologist who, on the brink of victory which would have given her incredible power, abandoned her army some forty years ago. Now, the battle calls to her once again. IT'S TIME TO GET THE GANG BACK TOGETHER!! Along with Black Herran, the group includes a necromancer, pirate queen, vampire, alchemist, a war god & an orc leader. This motley crew doesn't trust one another, sometimes they even plot against each other, but they must come together in order to take down a brutal new enemy. Blood, banter & battles! SO MANY BATTLES! The Maleficent Seven is one wickedly entertaining ride! It's stabby, sweary & has a dark sense of humor. Needless to say, I am a fan! CW: As expected, there is... a lot. Extreme violence, gore, animal torture, mutilations, religion & PTSD. The Maleficent Seven is an adult grimdark fantasy novel about villains. There are no *good* people in this story.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    The author's own review for this book cited it as "like Kings of the Wyld smooshed together with Suicide Squad into a glorious, gory, sweary melee", and he was not wrong! I so enjoyed this story, which managed to be as fun and witty as it was gruesome and bloody. The initial portion of the book set up the discontent against the Lucent Empire and the formation of a group of mismatched rebels hopeful to remove them from power. There were so many different creatures and races included in this. I thou The author's own review for this book cited it as "like Kings of the Wyld smooshed together with Suicide Squad into a glorious, gory, sweary melee", and he was not wrong! I so enjoyed this story, which managed to be as fun and witty as it was gruesome and bloody. The initial portion of the book set up the discontent against the Lucent Empire and the formation of a group of mismatched rebels hopeful to remove them from power. There were so many different creatures and races included in this. I thought it might become messy to read of so many inclusions, inside the kingdom of Essoran, but it really worked for me and made it a fun and diverse read where I never knew what would next appear. Vampires, necromancers, and orcs were just some of the characters that appeared, and they journeyed into underground ant nests, across the high-seas, and in disreputable taverns in search of their next ally or enemy. Every character was a flawed one. They had more unlikable personality traits than likable ones and yet somehow all managed to quickly gain their place in my heart, as soon as they were introduced. Most had few morals and so bloodshed and death often followed in their wake. This became a very dark read and I was eager to journey with these characters and to see how depraved the author would have their actions become. He did not disappoint. I have a soft spot for the underdog, those who have been defeated and rise again from the ashes, and ragtag, mismatched crews. All three featured here and bonded me with their side of the war as immediately as it did with their individual characters. Everything about this - from the humour, to the continual new settings explored, to the war looming ever closer, and the individuals who littered the pages - appealed to me and I have not one negative to say about this book. I can't wait to read from this author again! I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Cameron Johnston, and the publisher, Angry Robot, for this opportunity.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    The Maleficent Seven promises madness, and that’s what it delivers. Lots of it. If you like watching bad guys doing bad things in the service of good, here’s your next fix. Black Herran, a powerful demonologist and fearsome general, sold her soul for power. Instead of sealing the deal, she abandoned her armies at the cusp of victory and disappeared. Forty years later, she needs to reassemble her generals to stop a new threat, the Lucent Empire and its holy knights, from invading her hometown. Th The Maleficent Seven promises madness, and that’s what it delivers. Lots of it. If you like watching bad guys doing bad things in the service of good, here’s your next fix. Black Herran, a powerful demonologist and fearsome general, sold her soul for power. Instead of sealing the deal, she abandoned her armies at the cusp of victory and disappeared. Forty years later, she needs to reassemble her generals to stop a new threat, the Lucent Empire and its holy knights, from invading her hometown. The problem? Her old comrades hate each other and Black Herran most of all. The first part of the book follows the reassembly of the team and is wildly entertaining. The team includes Maeven (a devious necromancer), Lorrimer Felle (a well-mannered vampire with a penchant for mayhem and violence), Tiarnach (god of war turned drunkard), the pirate Queen Verena Awildan, Amogg (unstoppable orc), and Jerak Hyden (mad alchemist who terrifies everyone). They agree to join forces against a common foe, but it’s clear they’ll play their own games, too. The second part of the book gets even more over-the-top, as the team assembles in Tarnbrook and deals with armies of the Lucent Empire. There're no heroes in The Maleficent Seven; only monsters doing monstrous things to stop other monsters. If you don’t like inappropriate humour mixed with gore, you probably won’t appreciate the story. If, however, madness appeals to you, Johnston will entertain you in a loud and violent way. The story develops at a breakneck pace and rarely pauses. Cameron Johnston excels at two things; characters and action scenes. While I wouldn’t call any of the characters real (they’re too over-the-top in every way), I found them memorable and distinct. The action scenes provide everything action-hungry readers can imagine (magic, demons, sword and ax fights, explosions, mayhem) and more! Because the story is told from an omniscient point of view, we learn a bit about everyone but without getting to know anyone intimately. A brave choice but it (mostly) works. Readers tired of slow-moving, over-written, exposition-fraught epics will find lots to enjoy here. It’s not life-changing, but it’s wildly entertaining and addictive to read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bender

    https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/03/05/re... Overall: +9/10 Just glorious fun. A roller coaster ride filled with gods, demons, vampires and all types of monsters! If you'd read Cam's Age of Tyranny duology and thought that was great, he really upped the bar and this will will shatter even your wild expectations. Writing/Plot/Pace: +9/10 "Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope" The blurb captures the book perfectly. What happens if worlds saviors are just a bunch of villain's who are as https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/03/05/re... Overall: +9/10 Just glorious fun. A roller coaster ride filled with gods, demons, vampires and all types of monsters! If you'd read Cam's Age of Tyranny duology and thought that was great, he really upped the bar and this will will shatter even your wild expectations. Writing/Plot/Pace: +9/10 "Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope" The blurb captures the book perfectly. What happens if worlds saviors are just a bunch of villain's who are as despicable as (if not more) the enemy they are rescuing you from? What would we do in a situation we continue to hope for the protagonists (or perhaps non-antagonists might be better considering they are villains themselves) to emerge victorious all the while despising them? it certainly is a very interesting conundrum and that makes the book's premise very intriguing. What makes this different from the other takes of the classic Seven Samurai is the makeup and interpersonal relationship (or lack of one) between the main characters. it is not a tale of hope of redemption or glorified heroism. The MCs are evil, they hate working together, they plot against each other, they lack sympathy and/or empathy, they are selfish to a fault and ruthless to burh the world to get what they want. Definitely not a likeable group, I'd invite for a drink. The dynamics between them is something I especially enjoyed all through my read. Necromancers, Vampires, Demons, Mad Scientist (Alchemist), Sea Monsters, Gods, Dukes of Hell, Holy Knights...it just has everything. Both in scope and variation the character diversity is just astounding and despite the abundance of races, they all play a significant (small or not) role impacting the plot rather than just background color. Staying true to the title, the books moves deftly between about multiple PoVs (You have 7 protagonists, 1 antagonist plus couple of others secondary characters) without being confusing even in the slightest. The way the plot weaves between the characters themselves, their intentions, their interactions and the plot is done smoothly that the oft encountered info dumps are totally absent. The book just drops you at the beginning of a battle and the pace never drops till the climax. Pacing is perfect as we get adrenalin action sequences to blood chilling battle scenes, gritty drama all blended into one great story. The book has abundance of violent scenes, however they are done well without moving into the cheap gore category. The casual callousness shown towards pain, suffering and cruelty permeates every page which should be expected considering that both the antagonist and the non-antagonists are both big time villains. But despite the content, the book always has the feel of gritty adventure rather than a pure grimdark book, which I absolutely loved. What I wanted more was more of macro worldbuilding. The books focuses on events near the village of Tarnbrooke. We only sneak peeks into macro world and this focused approach's which works well with the plot but a bit more on acro worldbuilding might have added more oomph to the actually world shattering events happening here. And as a cheery on top, it has a nice twist at the end that I desperately hope will lead to the next book in this world. Characters: +9/10 Portraying a villain as a heroic role without actually making them a hero is a delicate balance to achieve and Cam has done s stellar role here. Every instance where we focus on the character, I hated their actions, but when they are fighting the antagonist, I wanted them to win. Deliciously balanced characters! What sets this book apart is that every single character makes an impression. From the protagonists to the side character of Red Penny, they all have weight and importance to the story left an impression on me. They all have individual personalities and in hindsight I'm amazed at how much I swung from hating their character, to wanting them to win and then willing them to die once victory is achieved. I don't think my words capture those mood swings well...but it's something you have to experience on your own. If you threatened to feed me to the demons, unless I nitpick something....then I'd have to say I expected a bit more oomph from Black Herran. Climax apart, I felt the rest of characters had more spotlight than her and I would have loved to see more of her (Hint to Cam: Just write the next damn book quickly please!)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vigasia

    This book was pure entertainment and I think it is a good position for anyone who likes not ever grey morality in characters but simply them being bad. The story was fine, I enjoyed it, and though, nothing special, the novel was something good for lazy evenings. What I miss what the protagonist, who, despite him or her being a bad person, I would actually like and really root for. They were all interesting creatures, but not one of them really caught my heart. There are some gore scenes so the bo This book was pure entertainment and I think it is a good position for anyone who likes not ever grey morality in characters but simply them being bad. The story was fine, I enjoyed it, and though, nothing special, the novel was something good for lazy evenings. What I miss what the protagonist, who, despite him or her being a bad person, I would actually like and really root for. They were all interesting creatures, but not one of them really caught my heart. There are some gore scenes so the book is not for a soft-hearted, but if you don't mind blood and death, and you like fantasy with villains as main characters, you should read this book, I liked it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anj✨

    Wow! This book is CRAZY! It's unpredictable, gruesome, and bloody. It's being pitch as "Kings of the Wyld smooshed together with Suicide Squad into a glorious, gory, sweary melee". I can't comment on the Kings of the Wyld aspect yet since I haven't read it 🙈 BUT def agree on Suicide Squad! The blunt, bloodier and funnier version. It's not for the faint heart. There are some scenes that even made me say ewww coz boy, that's just disgusting 🤭 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒍𝒆𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝑺𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 is filled with imaginative and diver Wow! This book is CRAZY! It's unpredictable, gruesome, and bloody. It's being pitch as "Kings of the Wyld smooshed together with Suicide Squad into a glorious, gory, sweary melee". I can't comment on the Kings of the Wyld aspect yet since I haven't read it 🙈 BUT def agree on Suicide Squad! The blunt, bloodier and funnier version. It's not for the faint heart. There are some scenes that even made me say ewww coz boy, that's just disgusting 🤭 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒍𝒆𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝑺𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 is filled with imaginative and diverse cast of characters. There's a demonologist, a necromancer, a pirate queen, a vampire, a God of War past his prime, a vicious orc, and a mad alchemist. All of them have distinct voices and multi-faceted. The characterization is well done. They are villains who did despicable things yet I still root for them. Overall, 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑴𝒂𝒍𝒆𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝑺𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 is an unputdownable and entertaining read. I highly recommend The Maleficent Seven if you like fast paced, action-packed, rich in culture, and wicked characters! Thank you so much Angry Robot Books and Netgalley for the DRC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melpomene

    ARC provided by the publisher, Angry Robot in exchange for an honest review. Let me start by saying that if you enjoy superhero/action movies or anime then you will enjoy this book too. So this book did a lot of things that I didn’t like. But it’s not an objectively bad book. It just wasn’t for me and I think others might enjoy it. As it is obvious from the title, the story revolves around seven characters. Black Harren is the chief and she is trying to gather her old crew for a big battle. The ARC provided by the publisher, Angry Robot in exchange for an honest review. Let me start by saying that if you enjoy superhero/action movies or anime then you will enjoy this book too. So this book did a lot of things that I didn’t like. But it’s not an objectively bad book. It just wasn’t for me and I think others might enjoy it. As it is obvious from the title, the story revolves around seven characters. Black Harren is the chief and she is trying to gather her old crew for a big battle. The characters are either supernatural (vampire, demi-God, Orc, Necromancer) or criminals and pirates. In summary, your protagonists are bad guys but they’re fighting for a good cause. It’s kind of similar to the Fast & Furious movies, which brings me to my biggest problem with the book. Pacing: This book is unbelievably fast-paced. It felt like a movie, not a book. And yeah it felt exactly like Fast & Furious or a Marvel movie! why? Because it took only two or three pages for these people to travel from point A to point B in this universe! As someone who loves WoT and Asoiaf, I would rather see the journey, I would like to see 300 pages of just walking around in the universe. And don’t get me wrong, I love those fast-paced movies, it works in visual media but not in books. On the other hand, I know that most people actually enjoy a fast-paced story and find the pacing in WoT and Asoiaf too slow. So if you’re one of them then I recommend this book. Tone: This book is a fun adventure, not an epic story of politics and wars. Yes, the world is dark, brutal, and full of bloodshed but there is also humor there and in my opinion, the humor was more prevalent. Of course, the whole point of the story is one major battle but it felt like a battle between Avengers and Thanos, not the kind of battle that I expect to see in fantasy worlds. And again, I know that lots of you will probably love this kind of story but it wasn’t for me. The first section of the book is just the Necromancer collecting the crew from different parts of the world and all of them start by saying “No I don’t wanna come back and work for Black Herran” but come on! we all know that they’re eventually gonna accept the offer, otherwise, there wouldn’t be a story! So the whole thing was a little pointless for me. And again, this could work in movies, because every member is just gonna protest for two minutes and you can watch two pointless minutes but I get bored reading 12 pointless chapters! These chapters were mostly characters telling jokes or being badass or insulting each other by being witty. Their dialogues are actually fun and I’m sure a lot of you will enjoy it. world-building: I can’t say there is anything objectively wrong with this universe because there isn’t but for me, this universe is too crowded! There are Orcs, there are Vampires, Necromancers, some huge insects or something, demons,... None of them are explored enough for my taste, I like to know every single detail about every single race in books! But then again, I know most people enjoy this kind of story. Wow, this whole review is just me saying this book isn’t for me, but it might be for you:D

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa (Intotheheartwyld)

    Thank you Netgalley and Angry Robot for providing me with an early copy in exchange for an honest review! Oh boy where to begin. Where. to. begin. The Maleficent Seven was wild, compelling, gross, and a journey like no other. I laughed, shed a tear or two and even cried out "wow that's gross". Johnston created a high action, fast moving tale that just kept me begging for more. This is the read I needed after two not so great reads in a row. The Maleficent Seven follows the point of views from the v Thank you Netgalley and Angry Robot for providing me with an early copy in exchange for an honest review! Oh boy where to begin. Where. to. begin. The Maleficent Seven was wild, compelling, gross, and a journey like no other. I laughed, shed a tear or two and even cried out "wow that's gross". Johnston created a high action, fast moving tale that just kept me begging for more. This is the read I needed after two not so great reads in a row. The Maleficent Seven follows the point of views from the villains who are going after the "good guys" (who are totally insane fyi). We get to see the team come together in the classic "lets go and find everyone and convince them to join in our cause" journey only of course those ways of convincing each other are more on the heinous side of things rather then the do well kind. I absolutely loved this, (I usually do I wont lie) Each character was introduced with just enough background that it made you feel like you had been following them for much longer. Each one had a distinctive voice and I feel being able to successfully pull that off in a short amount of time can be difficult for some authors, but Johnston made it look easy. We get to follow 7 people and a few side characters and each one stood out. Tiranach was without a doubt my favorite character. I felt so much pain and heartbreak for him, he was the one who kept getting the tears to flow from my eyes. I wasn't full on bawling but I am a sap and this mans story just broke my heart and seeing how he handled it made me hurt even more for him. He had for me the most intriguing background and I was constantly rooting for him and loved every moment he was focused on, I just could not get enough of him. Lorimer was my second favorite. I don't like vampires, I never have, they bore me with their whole " oh no we can't go into the sunlight" bit, I have always been a werewolf kind of girl. But Johnston said "girl you will fall so hard for this vampire" and I freaking did. Lorimer (from my experience) is not like any other vampire out there. I'm not going to give it away but I really feel like Johnston brought something new to the world of vampires and I would love to see more like this particular one. His abilities, manners, speech and interactions were captivating and hilarious, Just like with Tiranach I wanted more and more of him. I did not walk away from this book hating anyone, I mean even Penny left her mark and she is a side character. Everyone was captivating in their own way and it made me want to keep meeting more people. All the conversations felt real and not forced (and never gave me second hand embarrassment thank heavens) Johnston really has a way with characters. The pacing of this story was fast and I mean break neck speed fast. You will find yourself flying trough pages and each page makes the story more compelling. I had a desire and craving to just know what would happen next. I needed to know what happened to Maeven's sister, I needed to know who would win, who would die (and yes lots die). I stayed up till 1:30 am to finish this because I just couldn't put it down. Johnston grabs you and just refuses to let go, and frankly I should have seen that tactic coming as he did the same thing in his debut "The Traitor God". Johnston knows just how much story to dangle in front of you to keep you hooked and obsessively wanting more. The action is fast, bloody and honestly at times gross, I can handle this so it wasn't an issue for me, but as a warning I will say there are parts with animal torture/death. There are mutilations, and gore everywhere, I mean one of the characters we follow is a necromancer and she does some nasty stuff and it's in some pretty gnarly detail. If you can't handle that kind of stuff than this might not be for you. But if you can than you are in for a treat because the action just comes and feels like it never ends and the final part is just nonstop action. The story plot its self was captivating, I mean I have only said that a 100 times now. I loved the idea of following a bunch of villains taking on the quest to do one solid act of actual goodness for the world because these "good guys" were not as good as they really thought they where. The only problem I had was that we don't get to see to much from the opposing sides point of view. I would have liked to see a little bit more of that. I feel it would have gave The Falcon Prince that push in really needed in selling how deranged and mad he was. I just kept hoping that at some point I would see the world from his perspective we got one moment of it and after that it was all through the eyes of everyone else we follow. The story has a solid ending but honestly if Johnston wanted to continue with this world ( I don't know if this is suppose to be the start of new series or a standalone) but I feel he has enough material to work with with how it ended. And frankly speaking, I would buy it in a heartbeat. So if you are in the mood for villains who hate each other working together and some nasty fights but a lot of laughing (and maybe crying if you’re a sap like me) Then go fourth and read this magnificent tale, you won’t be disappointed.

  12. 5 out of 5

    OutlawPoet

    Oh, I loved this one! It's bawdy and raucous and violent and funny and everything. All the characters lived and breathed and the world building was so well done! The book is just pure fun from the first chapter to the last. I loved every page of this and just wanted more, more, more! *ARC provided via Net Galley Oh, I loved this one! It's bawdy and raucous and violent and funny and everything. All the characters lived and breathed and the world building was so well done! The book is just pure fun from the first chapter to the last. I loved every page of this and just wanted more, more, more! *ARC provided via Net Galley

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jacq

    This was so bloody and so gruesome…and yet I could not stop reading! Is thing going to be a series? Because it really should be, I want more! An epic adventure filled with pirates, sorcerers, demons, and monsters, a real diverse and imaginative cast. Our protagonists are NOT the heroes, far from it, they are morally corrupt and totally evil in some cases, broken and tormented, but united against one powerful foe. The story’s is so original! It’s like suicide squad but 10 times more darker, funnier This was so bloody and so gruesome…and yet I could not stop reading! Is thing going to be a series? Because it really should be, I want more! An epic adventure filled with pirates, sorcerers, demons, and monsters, a real diverse and imaginative cast. Our protagonists are NOT the heroes, far from it, they are morally corrupt and totally evil in some cases, broken and tormented, but united against one powerful foe. The story’s is so original! It’s like suicide squad but 10 times more darker, funnier, and grisly. I am really surprised by how much I loved this book! Most of its content is a big turn off for me but somehow Cameron Johnston has just made a gripping read that uses certain elements in just the right way! I made so many sound effects while reading this: from laughing, to gasping, to sniffling, to gagging. I was entirely hooked and engrossed. It has violence, language, gross bodily descriptions, highly immoral characters, and hilarious banter, makes up for one crazy action-filled ride!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (ofproseandspells)

    I would like to thank Angry Robot Books for the review copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. When a ragtag, mismatched villains were the only ones who could possibly save the world, devious and mayhem adventures ensued. The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston delivered a fast, almost-a-movie-like pacing tale with a brimful of gruesome actions, vicious characters, and dark sense of humor. The story started when Black Herran, a demonologist, abandoned her army on the brink I would like to thank Angry Robot Books for the review copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. When a ragtag, mismatched villains were the only ones who could possibly save the world, devious and mayhem adventures ensued. The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston delivered a fast, almost-a-movie-like pacing tale with a brimful of gruesome actions, vicious characters, and dark sense of humor. The story started when Black Herran, a demonologist, abandoned her army on the brink of victory. Now, forty years later, she must bring her former captains back together to make the final stand against a fanatical group. However, old wounds never truly healed, and the unlikely crew hated each other’s guts. Was having a common enemy enough to get them work back together? I love how the plot was cruelly wild! If I had not said enough, this novel did not have “good” people in this story. Expect that violence, gore, and graphic descriptions were present here. They were evils who were doing wicked things to stop the other evil. The first part of the book focused on banding the group together, and the second part was about the siege and how they dealt with the Lucent Empire. Here, the characters’ intentions came to light, and of course, there was the plot twist at the end that would make you want more. Characterwise, the author did a great job making each character memorable and distinct. I liked how diverse the characters were, as well as their individual personalities. Also, even when these group of people did a lot of horrible things, and readers were kept reminded of these things, it was so easy to root for them. This would have been perfect if only there were more of the world-building for me. There were not much enough details for my taste. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this novel. Overall, The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston is a spellbinding and striking read. I recommend this book to people who like villainous characters! 4.25 stars! CW: gore, violence, animal torture, inappropriate jokes, mutilations, and PTSD

  15. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    Check out more bookish thoughts and videos on my YouTube channel. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free. I wont lie, the first thing that caught my eye about The Maleficent Seven is that fantastic title. While it’s not the kind of fantasy that I typically read these days, I ended up being won over by this ragtag band of villains. Oh , and the fact that it happens to contain some of my favourite tropes: -One last job -Small gro Check out more bookish thoughts and videos on my YouTube channel. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free. I wont lie, the first thing that caught my eye about The Maleficent Seven is that fantastic title. While it’s not the kind of fantasy that I typically read these days, I ended up being won over by this ragtag band of villains. Oh , and the fact that it happens to contain some of my favourite tropes: -One last job -Small group defending against an overwhelming enemy -Villains as heroes -Reluctant alliances -Ageing characters who are still badasses A quick fun fact about me: The Seven Samurai is one of my absolute favourite movies of all time (seriously, watch it if you haven’t seen it yet). It inspired the Western film The Magnificent Seven, which you have probably already guessed is connected to this very book. Johnston takes the bones of this plot (small town defended by a ragtag group of warriors against considerable odds) and spins it into a rollicking fantasy tale. This book is packed with action and banter — it feels like a chaotic DnD campaign with your best and weirdest friends. I wont lie, it took me awhile to get into this book — I just wasn’t sold on it until about 30-40% of the way through. However, once we got to know some of the characters and the greater world better, I got more and more attached. Johnston does a great job of creating refreshing lore and culture around classic fantasy races and themes — the orcs were my absolute favourite — and I’ll always be won over by the ‘one last job’ and ‘greatly outnumbered group working against a huge army’ tropes. While there are really no ‘good’ characters and everyone has their own, selfish motivations, the enemy in this book is horrifying. The Falcon Prince and his army of fanatics were absolutely terrifying in their zealousness and power. If I had to choose between them, I’d probably side with the demonologist and her captains too. In terms of characters, I didn’t think I’d end up liking any of them very much, but I was totally won over by a surprising number of them. Amogg the orc chieftan and Lorimer Fell the vampire lord were fabulous characters, but my favourite was the fallen war god Tiarnach. His character arc throughout the book is just fantastic and I just adored him. None of the characters in this book are perfect (nor would you want them to be, they’re villains for a reason), however Johnston gave them a surprising amount of depth. You can’t help but root for them. The Maleficent Seven is a popcorn-y fantasy book — it’s fast paced, action packed, and wildly entertaining. Will it change your life? Probably not. But if you’re looking for a fun fantasy book filled with battles and banter that you can devour in a weekend, I’d definitely recommend picking it up. CW: violence and gore, animal death

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is, unsurprisingly, a retelling of *The Magnificent Seven,* which is itself a retelling of *The Seven Samurai*. There's a good reason the story has been told so many times: "group of heavily outnumbered but highly skilled warriors defends village from invading force" will always be a great premise for a story. The twist here is that the titular seven are all dyed-in-the-wool villains. They consist of a demon raiser, a necromancer, a vampire, a pirate queen, a war god, an alchemist, and an or This is, unsurprisingly, a retelling of *The Magnificent Seven,* which is itself a retelling of *The Seven Samurai*. There's a good reason the story has been told so many times: "group of heavily outnumbered but highly skilled warriors defends village from invading force" will always be a great premise for a story. The twist here is that the titular seven are all dyed-in-the-wool villains. They consist of a demon raiser, a necromancer, a vampire, a pirate queen, a war god, an alchemist, and an orc chieftain. They're all bad people (though some are worse than the others - the other six all uncomfortable to be working alongside the alchemist), and they're all their for their own selfish reasons, but they all intend to do their best to save the inoffensive village with the bad luck to sit in the path of a fanatical theocratic empire. The story that unfolds is pure popcorn fun. Not only do you get the fun of seeing what clever tricks/horrifying crimes they do to stop the invaders, at the same time all seven are plotting against the other and looking for the right moment to both defeat the invaders and come out on top of their allies. This isn't a book that'll change your life, but it's very much a book worth the read if what you are looking for is entertainment. And even though none of the seven are good guys, you still have reasons to root for most of them. Props to the author for a good gender balance. The demon raiser, necromancer, pirate queen, and orc chieftain are all women. The orc in particular, upon arriving at the village, asks first thing why the stupid humans are only training half of the people as fighters and immediately sets to training the women. The captain of the militia women (Penny, later dubbed "Red Penny") is one of the few side characters and by far my favorite. Warning for graphic violence (these are very bad people) and violence against animals (again, bad people). No rape, though, which was a relief.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joe Lindley

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Tits on a fish!!... That was fun. If Kings of the Wyld had an evil twin it would be The Maleficent Seven. Is is tropey? Sure, but unashamedly and gloriously so. It takes your stereotypical fantasy rogues & dark lords and gives them centre stage. My stand out favourite has to be Tiarnach the washed out demi-god. The magic system is a little loose with necromancy, demonology, alchemy and divine powers but who cares when it's this fun to read. A solid standalone but I wouldn't mind future stories w Tits on a fish!!... That was fun. If Kings of the Wyld had an evil twin it would be The Maleficent Seven. Is is tropey? Sure, but unashamedly and gloriously so. It takes your stereotypical fantasy rogues & dark lords and gives them centre stage. My stand out favourite has to be Tiarnach the washed out demi-god. The magic system is a little loose with necromancy, demonology, alchemy and divine powers but who cares when it's this fun to read. A solid standalone but I wouldn't mind future stories with perhaps Red Penny the orc-friend as a potential protagonist

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bob/Sally

    It was an early review calling it a Kings of the Wyld / Suicide Squad mashup that got me excited for The Maleficent Seven, and I fear that comparison was a misdirection that led to disappointment. While it was a fitting description of the first third of the book, in which black humor and sarcastic repartee pair perfectly with violence and vulgarity, the rest of the book takes a sharp turn to grimdark, leaving most of the humor behind . . . and that's where the disappointment came in. To his credi It was an early review calling it a Kings of the Wyld / Suicide Squad mashup that got me excited for The Maleficent Seven, and I fear that comparison was a misdirection that led to disappointment. While it was a fitting description of the first third of the book, in which black humor and sarcastic repartee pair perfectly with violence and vulgarity, the rest of the book takes a sharp turn to grimdark, leaving most of the humor behind . . . and that's where the disappointment came in. To his credit, Cameron Johnston does a super job of establishing a cast of characters, each and every one of them monstrous or mad. Amogg, the kickass orc leader, Maeven, the deceitful necromancer, and Lorimer, the old-school vampire lord, were the outstanding characters for me. I enjoyed the very formal sort of interplay between Lorimer and his aide, and I loved everything about Amogg and her gender-progressive clan of orcs. Tiarnach, the fallen, drunken God of War, was initially intriguing, and I liked where his arc seemed to be headed, but he lost my interest by the end. As for Jerak, the mad alchemist, maybe it was a matter of just too much build up, but he never quite lived up to the horrors of his legacy, although I did chuckle at some of his monstrous inventions. As for the plot, I loved the idea of angry, bitter, backstabbing villains getting back together after a massive betrayal to defend a small town against a holy army, and that part of the book was fantastic, but the twist betrayal that drives the last third was less interesting. I thought the spiritual component of good versus evil, light versus dark, Goddess versus Demon, had some real potential, and was looking forward to seeing how that played out, but it faltered in the end, with to many of those conflicts failing to find a satisfactory resolution. The pacing is frantic, which is fine so long as you're reading, but as soon as you stop to think about it, the lack of depth or substance begins to eat away at the story. It's entertaining but, ultimately, I didn't find that I really cared about much of it. I was never invested in the characters or the outcome, and didn't really have any attachment to either side, which I think is the biggest problem I had with the read. Villains and anti-heroes can be a ton fun, but when they're taken too far, placed into a conflict in which there is no 'good' side for which to cheer, it's hard to care who wins. The lesser or two evils is not the heroic triumph I look for in my fantasy. The Maleficent Seven was a fun first third, and would have been an amazing book if it had continued in that vein, but the sharp turn to grimdark, without any emotional involvement, had me skimming pages rather than devouring them. Not a bad book, not by any means, but I'm afraid false expectations at the start led me astray into a book that just wasn't for me. http://beauty-in-ruins.blogspot.com/2...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Azu ♡

    3.5 stars. The writing style is not really for me but it was fun overall.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kaffeeklatsch and Books

    The promised Kings of the Wild Suicide Squad mash up was delivered, however it wasn't necessarily a book for me. Plot and concept are amazing, I really enjoy a good anti-hero storyline, but what killed it in the end was the breakneck speed and some things that didn't make sense for me personally. After collecting the first few members and all of them arguing for a couple of seconds on why they'd never work for Black Herran again, they do of course. It gets old quickly. Instead of getting more info The promised Kings of the Wild Suicide Squad mash up was delivered, however it wasn't necessarily a book for me. Plot and concept are amazing, I really enjoy a good anti-hero storyline, but what killed it in the end was the breakneck speed and some things that didn't make sense for me personally. After collecting the first few members and all of them arguing for a couple of seconds on why they'd never work for Black Herran again, they do of course. It gets old quickly. Instead of getting more info about our band, there's a lot of killing and ripping people apart repeatedly. I feel this time could've been used better by the author. We already know how badass, strong and evil they are. The trips between locations are very short and I often found myself a bit confused. I also wasn't a big fan of the dialogue between characters. BUT. I can see other readers enjoying this, especially if you like fast-paced, action-filled scenes without a massive amount of culture, backgrounds and info dumps. I do prefer my slow-paced epic fantasy 😅 2.5 out of 5 ⭐

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I kindly received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The idea that the world can only be saved by 7 villains is great. The characters were so rich and in some cases were in that grey zone of 'are they truly evil?!' I loved the vampire and god of war. The magic system and world were really easy to understand and imagine. The descriptions of the battles were really good too. I liked how realistic the book was - no shying away from at I kindly received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The idea that the world can only be saved by 7 villains is great. The characters were so rich and in some cases were in that grey zone of 'are they truly evil?!' I loved the vampire and god of war. The magic system and world were really easy to understand and imagine. The descriptions of the battles were really good too. I liked how realistic the book was - no shying away from atrocities even including women and children. It made it so much crueler and believable. There was great twists in the book that will hopefully set it up for a sequel. Great read!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Williams

    https://lynns-books.com/2021/08/19/th... 4 of 5 stars I would start out this review by saying that this is a bloody, no holds barred, grim and dark murderfest. Over the top much – just a tad!! There is plenty of squick and a little bit of nasty not to mention some colourful cursing. If that doesn’t appeal to you, well, you’ve been warned. I must admit that having read some of the superb reviews I think I was expecting a good deal more belly laughs with this one, but, I guess that’s the thing with h https://lynns-books.com/2021/08/19/th... 4 of 5 stars I would start out this review by saying that this is a bloody, no holds barred, grim and dark murderfest. Over the top much – just a tad!! There is plenty of squick and a little bit of nasty not to mention some colourful cursing. If that doesn’t appeal to you, well, you’ve been warned. I must admit that having read some of the superb reviews I think I was expecting a good deal more belly laughs with this one, but, I guess that’s the thing with humour, it’s all rather personal at the end of the day, and yet, regardless of the number of laughs this elicited it is undoubtedly an entertaining, fast paced read with a twisted ending and some very vibrant characters. To be honest it’s a clever story because it completely turned me around and I thought the ending was brilliant. As we set off on this journey we witness Black Herran, dreaded demonologist and fearsome general, on the brink of success, as she abandons her army. Forty years later she returns and starts to reassemble the warriors that captained her army. As you might imagine, the six warriors in question were none too pleased about being left in the lurch just as glory stood within reach, add to that the level of mutual mistrust, disgust and general hatred that they mostly feel towards each other and this will give you a loose idea of the magnitude of the endeavour. Why did Black Herran disappear and why has she come back to reunite her old squad some 40 years later. I won’t broach the first part of that question because there lies the land of spoilers. The reason for this new summons is Black Herran is trying to protect a small,almost insignificant if you will, village, against a religious fanatic who is currently terrorising the country, destroying the peace and killing all those who refuse to worship his chosen deity. For the most part, the plot itself is fairly simple, collect together a curious, ragtag band of warriors and incentivise them enough to join together. Then shore up the village defences and wait for war to approach. It seems fairly basic on the face of it but there is more to this than at first appears to be the case. Also, let’s just get out of the way the play on the title and the ways in which it relates to the similarly named Magnificent Seven. Firstly, the fundamental difference between magnificent and maleficent is enough to clue us in that this is not a band of reluctant heroes in the making here. These are a bunch of nasty mofos who have come together for totally selfish reasons. Never doubt that. We have the small village under attack and the outrageous odds of seven, albeit very capable characters, standing up against what feels like inevitable defeat. The villagers of course idolise them, even though they’re afraid and a number make a good stab (not sorry) at trying to learn the basics of survival. To the characters. Obviously Black Herran, general and demonologist, feared by all. Her captains are Maevan – a necromancer with revenge and rescue in mind. Lorrimer Fella – a vampire who wants to restore his land. Tiarnach – a demigod who lost his status when his worshippers were all killed and sought solace in finding the bottom of many bottles. Verena Awildan – a pirate Queen who demands loyalty from all her brethren and is accompanied by a curious animal that offers her strage protection. Amogg – a female Orc who has succeeded in gaining renown and status due to her strength and fighting abilities. Finally, Jerak Hyden – an alchemist with a warped and deviant sense of right and wrong. To be honest, at first, I struggled to like any of them. And, I think that may be intentional on the part of the author. However, as the book progressed I realised that I had quite easily found myself liking Amogg – she’s a very simple character in many respects, honourable, fierce and says things the way they are, she takes on the training of a bunch of women and Penny in particular is a character I liked and would like to see more of. I then found myself warming to the vampire even though his early penchant for bloodletting and what felt like cruel torture turned me off a little at the start. I found myself rooting for him. Go figure. I even came round to the booze soaked demigod and his ridiculous antics. What is going on here – these characters ‘snuck’ up on me when I wasn’t watching. I never got on board with Jerak – in fact remove one of the vowels in that there name and I think you have a more apt moniker for him. Again, though, I think this is deliberate on the part of the author. There are no shortage of characters and without doubt you’ll find yourself on somebody’s team. To be fair I liked the pirate queen as well. The demonologist and necromancer are a good match for each other – I won’t say more because there are a few surprises up Cameron’s sleeve in this respect and I have to give a shout out to the way he managed to turn me around, give me characters to shout for or shout at The writing is very easy to get on board with. There aren’t hefty descriptions weighing down the story and yet at the same time there’s a good enough feel for the place and I felt like all the characters had their time in the spotlight. In fact the characters are the shining grace here really because they undoubtedly went through something of a development arc for me anyway. Well, the characters and the final chapters where we finally get some answers – don’t get me wrong, there are little reveals along the way but the final denouement is the real winner for me. That and the epilogue which I hope means that there will be at least a further instalment. Overall, this one got off to a little bit of a slow start for me. I think maybe I picked this up with the wrong expectations in mind and so that put me of course for a while. However, once I got back on track I found myself forming attachments and rather impatiently reading towards the end to see what was really going on. And that ending, well, it holds plenty of promise. What can I say? Be patient, the author has a cunning plan in store, so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox. Again, this isn’t for the faint of heart but if you fancy a good grimdark, blood soaked, over the top story with characters that will give you varying degrees of emotions then what you waiting for? I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. How does one reconcile with someone after being betrayed? Can their common interests pave the way towards solidarity? Can they allow themselves to forgive one another, move forward, and attain their deepest desires through an unwarranted alliance? Maybe. Only if their most sinister intentions can be kept at bay. Unfortunately, this crew is filled with the most hateful and maleficent bunch who clearly won’t mind back-stabbing others to get what t You can find my review on my blog by clicking here. How does one reconcile with someone after being betrayed? Can their common interests pave the way towards solidarity? Can they allow themselves to forgive one another, move forward, and attain their deepest desires through an unwarranted alliance? Maybe. Only if their most sinister intentions can be kept at bay. Unfortunately, this crew is filled with the most hateful and maleficent bunch who clearly won’t mind back-stabbing others to get what they want. However, their unison could also lead them to save the world and mend their reputation once and for all. In his latest stand-alone dark fantasy novel, author Cameron Johnston (Age of Tyranny) delivers a flamboyant and riveting adventure with an unlikely crew off to do the unthinkable. What is The Maleficent Seven about? 40 years ago, Black Herran, a feared and terrifying demonologist captained a team of seven fearsome warriors: Maeven (a necromancer), Lorrimer Felle (a vampire lord), Tiarnach (a demigod), Amogg (an orcish warleader), Verena Awildan (a pirate queen), and Jerak Hyden (a twisted alchemist). Together, they went on to conquer countless continents within Essoran. However, on the day they were ready to proclaim complete dominion over the world, Black Herran jumped ship. Today, she looks to rally her former captains back together for another conquest to take place in the small town of Tarnbrooke in hopes to put an end to the growing strengths and victories of the Lucent Empire. Unfortunately for her, the task is far more complex than it ever was as the members, soured by their past experience, find themselves unable to trust a soul. Focused first on speeding through the world to find each member in their natural habitat, now accustomed to treachery, deception, and manipulation, the story then shifts its attention to the promised bloodshed. Despite its breakneck pace, inevitably cutting away at the journey and the time to bond along the way, writer Cameron Johnston nevertheless does a fantastic job in highlighting the most singular and exciting traits of his quirky band. Through snappy dialogues, witty comebacks, and a colourful prose full of baffling insults, he offers an entertaining journey where every little interaction highlights his characters’ most identifying traits and hints at their most sinful desires. Without sending these monsters on a quest to change themselves for the better, this adventure focuses on drawing out the best (or worse) of their being in an attempt to do something that might seem good on the surface but hides far more than they dare share. With such a thrilling plot, delivered at an unquestionably fast pace, it had to suffer in terms of world-building. The upside is that writer Cameron Johnston delivers an incredibly diverse world that features classic villainous creatures. While he doesn’t delve deeper than necessary into their history, he allows their interactions to establish a dynamic and entertaining atmosphere that will fully satisfy readers as they follow the group’s formation and vicariously enjoy their bloody skirmishes. If there’s anything rewarding, it’s the fascinating execution of action sequences and the grim banter between the crew members. Although there isn’t much time offered to appreciate the setting, the fun essentially comes from the chaotic, rapid-fire, and unfiltered energy emitted from this crew. The Maleficent Seven is an exciting, action-packed, and gruesome adventure following an unusual evil bunch in one last epic crusade. Thank you to the author for sending me a digital copy for review! Yours truly, Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer Official blog: https://bookidote.com/

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    4 stars! GOOD LORD that was a fun read. The tagline of the book is "When you're all out of heroes, all that's left are the villains," and that perfectly sums this book up. It's a non-stop edge of your seat fantasy getting to watch a bunch of villains do villainous things in the name of "good" - which isn't really "good" perse, but rather evil to stop worse evil... depending on how you look at it. It starts out in the middle of a battle, where a demonoligist is seemingly on the verge of taking ove 4 stars! GOOD LORD that was a fun read. The tagline of the book is "When you're all out of heroes, all that's left are the villains," and that perfectly sums this book up. It's a non-stop edge of your seat fantasy getting to watch a bunch of villains do villainous things in the name of "good" - which isn't really "good" perse, but rather evil to stop worse evil... depending on how you look at it. It starts out in the middle of a battle, where a demonoligist is seemingly on the verge of taking over the world. Something happens to make her decide to abandon her army. Now it's forty years later, and there's a worse threat, and our demonologist decides to bring her former captains back together to make one last stand at a town about to be overrun by an evil potentially worse than her own evil. The captains? A necromancer, a vampire, a demigod, an orc, a pirate queen, and a mentally unstable alchemist. Everyone is completely over the top and it WORKS. Nonstop action, crude humor, and monsters being monstrous toward each other and barely able to stand each other's company as they work toward a common goal. As real people they would be completely unsympathetic and unlikable, but damn they are wonderful anti-protagonists (hard to call them protagonists as they are most definitely villains). Most villain books give the villains backstories and relatable qualities to ultimately make them more heroic than villainous. Here, however, the author is unapologetic in creating these villains, and it was honestly a little refreshing. Other than wishing for more world building given that this book was very character focused, I loved this read! Highly recommend to anyone who craves a good story about bad guys being bad guys with a perfect blend of humor, violence, creativity, and characters that are just SO MUCH FUN to read. Thank you Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss for the ARC!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wes Spence

    After reading the author's "Age of Tyranny" duo-logy I was really excited to hear he had another book coming up. Given the opportunity to read the ARC, it was an exciting to see a whole new world, along similar lines to Nicholas Eame's "the Band series", with even a dash of "The Heroes" from Joe Abercrombie. The Maleficent 7, the dread Demonologist Black Herran and her 6 Captains, reunited after 40 years to help stop a terrifying Crusade. It was a fun angle to have the "bad guys" as the ones sto After reading the author's "Age of Tyranny" duo-logy I was really excited to hear he had another book coming up. Given the opportunity to read the ARC, it was an exciting to see a whole new world, along similar lines to Nicholas Eame's "the Band series", with even a dash of "The Heroes" from Joe Abercrombie. The Maleficent 7, the dread Demonologist Black Herran and her 6 Captains, reunited after 40 years to help stop a terrifying Crusade. It was a fun angle to have the "bad guys" as the ones stopping the "do-gooders". The brief glimpses of the "Good guys" provided a fresh take on the fantasy trope, that those with God may not be entirely right....and which God? I do think the author could have dived into Black Herran's story more (my reduction from 5 stars to 4), but all the Captain's characters all felt really fleshed out, with some very awesome back stories. The Twisted Alchemist felt a lot like Joe Abercrombie's Morveer from Best Served Cold, while the "Demigod" was by and far my favorite POV. Buy this book! It was a journey I couldn't put down.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    Seven anti heroes... A Vampire, a Demi-God, a Pirate Queen, an Orc Chieftain, a Mad Alchemist, a Necromancer and The Demonologist Black Herran. Black Herran has returned after she disappeared 40 years ago, on the eve of a glorious battle. Her old team captains have scattered and she needs to bring them back together to save a small town from a religious zealot hellbent on annihilating non believers. This is dark but with a side helping of humour (Lots of blood and gore, so not for the faint hearte Seven anti heroes... A Vampire, a Demi-God, a Pirate Queen, an Orc Chieftain, a Mad Alchemist, a Necromancer and The Demonologist Black Herran. Black Herran has returned after she disappeared 40 years ago, on the eve of a glorious battle. Her old team captains have scattered and she needs to bring them back together to save a small town from a religious zealot hellbent on annihilating non believers. This is dark but with a side helping of humour (Lots of blood and gore, so not for the faint hearted). The seven protagonists are a real motley crew, my favourites were, Lorimer the Vampire, Tiernach the Demi-god and Amogg a very big female Orc.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kiara

    Check out my blog here One of the things that I'm always talking about on my bookstagram is the lack of books with a villain as the main character. Books that follow a hero are a dime a dozen, and although there have been plenty of authors who have kept that trope fresh, after a while it can get a little old. I've always thought that villains were such an untapped resource. Villains follow their own moral (or immoral) code, they commit heinous acts, and more often than not they are selfish megalo Check out my blog here One of the things that I'm always talking about on my bookstagram is the lack of books with a villain as the main character. Books that follow a hero are a dime a dozen, and although there have been plenty of authors who have kept that trope fresh, after a while it can get a little old. I've always thought that villains were such an untapped resource. Villains follow their own moral (or immoral) code, they commit heinous acts, and more often than not they are selfish megalomaniacs. Why wouldn't you want to read about a character like that?? Villains do things for their own gain, and they follow their own philosophies regarding how to obtain and keep power. It's their subversiveness that makes them interesting, and Cameron Johnston knew that when he wrote The Maleficent Seven. In The Maleficent Seven, Johnston introduces us to the demonologist Black Herran and her six captains: Lorimer the vampire lord, Amogg the orc warlord, Maeven the necromancer, Verena the pirate queen, Tiarnach the demigod, and Jerak Hyden the twisted alchemist. Once, they were on the cusp of overtaking their whole continent and putting it into the villainous hands of Black Herran, but at the last minute Herran disappeared and they lost their upper hand. In the power vacuum that followed a new power rose: the Lucent Empire. The Lucent Empire had one goal: convert the entire continent to their new totalitarian, evangelical religion. Now, 40 years later, Black Herran is back, and she needs her captains again so that she can stop the Lucent Empire before it engulfs everyone and everything in its path. The job won't be easy, especially because her captains hate Harren for the way she abandoned them. Each has their own agenda, but only time will tell if they can pull together one last time. From the very first page of this book, I was in love. Black Herran and her crew were nefarious, filthy, mean, and cruel, but instead of coming off as one-note characters with just one goal, they each came off as nuanced, fully fleshed-out characters. It's easy to take a villain down the mustache-twirling route, especially in a book with 7 of them, but Johnston gave each villain their own motivations and backstories. They were all absolutely horrible people, but they were so well-written that you find yourself rooting for them! One of my main gripes with typical depictions of villains is that the author tries to give them redeeming qualities. Johnston does no such thing. While his villains may have a reason for their actions and may care about certain people enough to want to protect them, they are first and foremost VILLAINS. Their motivations are selfish, and they go about achieving them to the detriment of those around them. And I LIVED for it! To me, this book was perfect. The worldbuilding was immersive, and I give it props for being a stand-alone book that adequately introduced the world and magic without it feeling rushed or like it was lacking. My one gripe is that it is in fact a stand-alone! I want more from this world! But the ending wrapped everything up nicely, which is something that can be hard to come by in a stand-alone. I left this book satisfied with the story I'd been told, and really that's all you can really ask for as a reader. **eARC provided by the publisher, Angry Robot, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

  28. 4 out of 5

    Justin Sarginson

    From start to finish this book bludgeons you by it's brutal brilliance, there's simply nothing to dislike & everything to enjoy. For me, every great book is built on the foundations of the characters & The Maleficent Seven is absolutely full of fully rendered & incredibly endearing characters, who carry not only this book forwards but the reader too. A novel take on a very old concept, it is told in a unique way, full of dark humour, impeccably told violence, depravity & loss, that it is impossibl From start to finish this book bludgeons you by it's brutal brilliance, there's simply nothing to dislike & everything to enjoy. For me, every great book is built on the foundations of the characters & The Maleficent Seven is absolutely full of fully rendered & incredibly endearing characters, who carry not only this book forwards but the reader too. A novel take on a very old concept, it is told in a unique way, full of dark humour, impeccably told violence, depravity & loss, that it is impossible not to appreciate it. Although the publisher & Netgalley were kind enough to allow me to read this book early, I've also pre-ordered this book as I want to revisit it again and enjoy it all over again. Forgive me for the horrendous pun, but that speak volumes....

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy Burt

    This book is crass, violent, unpredictable and one crazy adventure and I loved every page. The basic premise is 7 b*stards begrudgingly come together to fight a bigger b*stard; a demonologist, a necromancer, a vampire, a pirate queen, an orc, a god and an alchemist, all with their own vengeance for each other and it’s as wild as it sounds. No character is inherently good, in fact what they do on the page is pretty dark at times, and yet the banter between them, particularly between the blunt Amo This book is crass, violent, unpredictable and one crazy adventure and I loved every page. The basic premise is 7 b*stards begrudgingly come together to fight a bigger b*stard; a demonologist, a necromancer, a vampire, a pirate queen, an orc, a god and an alchemist, all with their own vengeance for each other and it’s as wild as it sounds. No character is inherently good, in fact what they do on the page is pretty dark at times, and yet the banter between them, particularly between the blunt Amogg the orc and the drunk Tiarnach the washed up god, or the hatred between Maeven the necromancer and vampire Lorimer, it’s so entertaining! This is an unforgiving book, a lot happens, there are a lot of characters and it darts about so don’t read it for a relaxing time!! This book won’t be for everyone, for some perhaps the tone won’t connect, but if you enjoyed the unashamed bluntness of Kristoff’s Nevernight and his casual reference to bodily fluids straight from the start, you’re going to enjoy Johnston’s writing. The language is blue, the characters are morally grey and that’s when they’re behaving, the pace is pretty constant and while usually I’ve struggled with a book where I haven’t liked or agreed with a protagonist, somehow you love, or at the very least like, these terrible people, you really find yourself rooting for this lot (apart from Jerak, Jerak is a ****). Thank you NetGalley for the early copy to review, I needed the laughs and uninhibited escape.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Benedict | SFF Oasis

    I have a blog at sffoasis.com where you can find reviews and book-related articles. This explosive debut is madder than a truck of hatters and more addictive than chocolate on your cheat day. Read on to find out why you all need to read this story. I was given an ARC (Advanced Review Copy/Advanced Reader Copy) by Angry Robot in return for an honest review of this book which you will find below. The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston is a story about monsters, revenge and lots and lots of killing. I have a blog at sffoasis.com where you can find reviews and book-related articles. This explosive debut is madder than a truck of hatters and more addictive than chocolate on your cheat day. Read on to find out why you all need to read this story. I was given an ARC (Advanced Review Copy/Advanced Reader Copy) by Angry Robot in return for an honest review of this book which you will find below. The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston is a story about monsters, revenge and lots and lots of killing. It's the kind of story that catches your attention like a kick to the balls by a drunk Scotsman. We start the story with a brilliant prologue which really sets the possibilities of the world Cameron has created. The Demonologist, Black Herran, is the general of an army full of monsters, pirates, vampires, the undead and other devilish creations which are camped outside of a fortress when, on the eve of battle, she disappears. Her captains confused and unable to hold the army together scatter only for her to recruit them again for one last suicide mission forty years later. "I have just unleashed one of the mightiest of all demons upon the Lucent Empire." I first heard about this book from my friend on Twitter @FantasyBookNerd who put up a glowing review. I was immediately intrigued by the cover and his review sold me. I applied for an ARC and was lucky enough to get one. I then devoured this story like a starving demon gnawing on fresh flesh. It is by far the most memorable and enjoyable book I have read so far this year. It just oozes fun, brilliantly choreographed battles, expertly executed characters and iconic scenes. The first thing you will notice when you read this book is that it is unlike other fantasy books and you are going to hear this comparison a lot but this is like Suicide Squad (2021) meets Kings of the Wyld (and maybe throw in a bit of Overwatch). Sometimes though when you have too many different ideas going on in a story it can take away from the enjoyment as you flick backwards to work out which character is which or lose enjoyment through confusion. This story has absolutely no problem in keeping you engaged while never once confusing you with the various characters, their species, the action or their own wants and needs. "I don't give a fuck if you all die so long as I can take that Falcon Prince's head. Me, I'm dead simple to understand." Cameron's prose is sleek and smooth like silk on a laminated floor. There isn't one part that felt like a speed bump in this book and the whole thing reads like an old favourite despite the fact that you are reading it for the first time. The story is a simple one. Black Herran and her crew have to defend Tarnbrooke, a town she has lived in for the past forty years from the rampaging religious zealots threatening to take over the whole of Essoran. The characters are brilliant. To elaborate, there is Maeven (necromancer), Lorrimer Felle (vampire), Tiarnach (god of war), Amogg (orc warrior), Verena Awildan (pirate queen), and Jerak Hyden (crazy alchemist). They all feel real, have their own personalities, their own desires in the story and their inter-relationship actions and conversations really pull you into their conflict through their own eyes. You will really enjoy reading this story as you find a favourite character and root for them whilst also reading to find out what happens to the rest of them. The dynamics between the characters is so well crafted. The fact that they've been apart for forty years doesn't change the flow of conversation or their hatred for one another and it shows all over the page, pulling you in with it. "The Kraken is coming." The worldbuilding in Essoran is actually quite minimal. You will know of a handful of locations and visit less in detail but you will fully know the lay of the land as Cameron describes in varying detail the town of Tarnbrooke, the surrounding ocean and the people that live there. It really shows that you don't always need a lot of worldbuilding if you can paint the world through the eyes of many different characters thus not taking away from the pace of the story or the characters own journeys. This story is a very character driven, action focused story and there is constant action in here. A lot of it is fighting but the fighting is excellent. At other times it might be tense planning of battles, someone setting traps, soldiers being terrorised by something in the dark or heated standoffs between monsters working with Black Herran. Regardless, it always moves the story forward and always has you wanting to just read one more chapter. "he admired the taste of a human heart even more, he thought as he ripped it free and sank his fangs into the steaming organ." To summarise, The Maleficent Seven is a fantasy book for adults and really is the kind of fun, excellent book that everyone needs to read. It's like Kings of the Wyld but the other way round - you're now reading from the monsters POV while "heroes" try to kill them as they provide one final stand-off and for me, I loved KotW but this is just that little bit more naughty. Rating 5/5 - You need to read this book. Cameron Johnston is a fantasy name you need to look out for. The story that Cameron has painted on these pages is scarily good. Monsters, heroes, epic action, bigger monsters, constant twists and turns, brilliantly written battles and a hilarious and angry God of War. I don't know what else to tell you without spoiling it. Get it. Now.

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