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The Bladed Faith

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A usurped prince prepares to take up the mantel of a deadly assassin and reclaim his kingdom, his people, and his slain gods in this epic fantasy from a USA Today bestselling author. Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents—the king and queen—beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader's court for years, Cyrus A usurped prince prepares to take up the mantel of a deadly assassin and reclaim his kingdom, his people, and his slain gods in this epic fantasy from a USA Today bestselling author. Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents—the king and queen—beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader's court for years, Cyrus is suddenly given a chance to escape and claim his revenge when a mysterious group of revolutionaries comes looking for a figurehead. They need a hero to strike fear into the hearts of the imperial and to inspire and unite the people. They need someone to take up the skull mask and swords and to become the legendary "Vagrant"—an unparalleled hero and assassin of otherworldly skill.  But all is not as it seems. Creating the illusion of a hero is the work of many, and Cyrus will soon discover the true price of his vengeance. 


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A usurped prince prepares to take up the mantel of a deadly assassin and reclaim his kingdom, his people, and his slain gods in this epic fantasy from a USA Today bestselling author. Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents—the king and queen—beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader's court for years, Cyrus A usurped prince prepares to take up the mantel of a deadly assassin and reclaim his kingdom, his people, and his slain gods in this epic fantasy from a USA Today bestselling author. Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents—the king and queen—beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader's court for years, Cyrus is suddenly given a chance to escape and claim his revenge when a mysterious group of revolutionaries comes looking for a figurehead. They need a hero to strike fear into the hearts of the imperial and to inspire and unite the people. They need someone to take up the skull mask and swords and to become the legendary "Vagrant"—an unparalleled hero and assassin of otherworldly skill.  But all is not as it seems. Creating the illusion of a hero is the work of many, and Cyrus will soon discover the true price of his vengeance. 

30 review for The Bladed Faith

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review. The Bladed Faith is a familiar and action-packed revenge story executed magnificently. “People say it is in the daylight that things are laid bare, but I’ve found truths are best revealed when the moon is high.” Every time I think about how many books David Dalglish has published to this day, I always feel like I have a LOT to catch up on. I’m serious. The Bladed Faith, the first book in The Vagrant Gods trilogy is Da ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review. The Bladed Faith is a familiar and action-packed revenge story executed magnificently. “People say it is in the daylight that things are laid bare, but I’ve found truths are best revealed when the moon is high.” Every time I think about how many books David Dalglish has published to this day, I always feel like I have a LOT to catch up on. I’m serious. The Bladed Faith, the first book in The Vagrant Gods trilogy is Dalglish’s 29th published novel, and prior to this novel, I’ve read only The Keepers trilogy. I have mentioned several times that The Bladed Faith is one of my most anticipated books of 2022. True; one of the reasons behind this anticipation is because I enjoyed The Keepers trilogy. But more importantly, what made me so excited for this release is how passionate Dalglish has been towards his work the past two years. And fortunately, not only did I receive the honor to host the stunning cover art reveal (illustrated by Chase Stone and designed by Lauren Panepinto) for this book, but I also got the blessing to read this early. I am not disappointed by this. The Bladed Faith is a great first book to a trilogy, and it shows promises that the sequels will be more explosive and larger in scope. Check out what David Dalglish has to say about The Bladed Faith: “As I mentioned earlier, each series of mine tends to have a goal or idea that I’m trying out for how I want to tell the story. For The Vagrant Gods, I decided it would be less of an experiment and more of a culmination. I would take what I loved from my various series and try to create what I would view as the definite path forward. This would be the series that, if you asked me what a definitive Dalglish novel was, I would no longer point to A Dance of Cloaks, or The Broken Pieces. It would be this book. This trilogy. A band of powerful friends/ family like the Eschaton Mercenaries of The Half-Orcs and Shadowdance. The religious conflict of The Paladins. The anything-goes philosophy of The Keepers. And as always, my over-the-top battles, in a setting that would allow me to stretch my chops, like the aerial battles of The Seraphim. It’s a new world with new characters, but for so much of it, it felt more like a homecoming.”—David Dalglish Has the passage above sparked your interest yet? Well, it should! The story in The Bladed Faith revolves around the revenge story of a usurped prince named Cyrus Lythan. Cyrus was only 14 years old when his country was invaded. In the invasion, his parents and gods were slain in front of him. After years of being held prisoner in the invader’s court, a mysterious group of revolutionaries breaks him free, and they provide him the chance for revenge. Cyrus must train and become the figurehead of their rebellion. He has to become a hero to unite the people and strike back, and he’ll don the skull mask and twin swords to become the legendary “Vagrant”—an assassin of otherworldly skill. Creating an illusion of a hero is obviously not an easy task, and Cyrus will discover the price of his vengeance. “To wear that new face. To become a heroic killer stalking the streets of Vallessau. You will be a rumor at first, one we will seed with whispers in the right ears in the right places. You’ll fight alongside my chosen elite as their figurehead leader, and receive all the glory for your combined exploits. Together, you will challenge even paragons. With every kill, you will make real the rumors that we have sown. And then our whispers will change. Who might this killer be? What identity does the cloak and skull hide?” Dalglish has mentioned that writing The Bladed Faith feels like a homecoming for him. But in a way, I think there are a lot of familiar elements in The Bladed Faith that will make readers feel at home. The Bladed Faith does not bring anything new to the genre, and it might not become a classic for veteran fantasy readers. But the found family, training montage, clash of faith, and revenge story imbued into the narrative have been polished wonderfully. No battle school trope was involved, but the training montage in the first third of the novel has to be my favorite part of the entire novel. “I am not training you to win sanctioned duels, Cyrus. You will not fight in an arena with fair odds, equal numbers, and rules of engagement. You will kill men and women who want you dead. It will be brutal, chaotic, and make a mockery of your sense of time. Some moments will last an eternity. Other decisions you will make so rapidly, you won’t know you are making them. Every swing, every block, every parry, and every dodge must be perfect. Anything less is death. Thanet’s resistance has clung to life by its fingertips after Lycaena’s execution. I will not build you up just so you may hang from the Dead Flags, the slain prince whose corpse marks the end of the rebellion. You will be a phantom killer. A merciless shadow. A god among mortal men. I do think that Dalglish has a way with characterizations. I know that this will be subjective to each reader, but Dalglish's way of characterizing his characters—good or evil—does click with me, and they make the narrative he puts out more engaging. This was the same in The Keepers trilogy, and it is the same again here. Honestly speaking, I liked Cyrus Lythan and his revenge story. However, it was the main supporting characters that excelled more for me. “These children didn’t yet know the sting of impossibility. They didn’t know the dread of the unrepentant and the determined ugliness of the Uplifted. They would, in time. When they did, Rayan prayed his stories of hope and forgiveness might bring them comfort. Picture: Characters of The Bladed Faith by RB Illustration Cyrus is accompanied by several important characters in his mission. First, the ruthless Stasia Ahlai, the Ax of Lahareed. And then the faithful Paladin, Rayan Vayisa. But my favorite of them all will have to be the relatively virtuous Mari Ahlai, the Lioness and a God-whisperer with the power to channel Edarius's skill to hunt her enemies. I do honestly think that Mari is one of Dalglish's most well-written characters so far. There was something about her that always felt so kind-hearted and terrifying at the same time, and I loved reading her narration. “When I hunt, there is pleasure in the blood upon my tongue… War makes monsters of us all, but that is why I become the Lioness. I hunt so no one else must be a monster. I hunt so others may know peace, and love, and live in the joy of their gods and the beauty of their rituals. For me, that is enough to grant my soul peace.” Lastly, I have to talk about the battle scenes. From my experience and my analysis, the battle scenes in The Bladed Faith could end up being a double-edged blade depending on its reader. There is nothing wrong with the battle scenes per se; Dalglish's battle scenes were well-written, vivid, violent, and exhilarating. However, I would definitely prefer more interactions and development for the characters. The Bladed Faith contained many battle scenes, and the pacing did feel slightly imbalanced because of it. If you don't like reading many action scenes in the first installment of a series, The Bladed Faith could end up as a mixed bag for you. “The wise can rebuild a better world from the ashes, but for there to be ashes, we must first burn down the old and the rotten. I say we get to burning.” For the first book of a series, I tend to prefer more characterizations and world-building than having more battle scenes. As I said, Dalglish's characterizations were praise-worthy, and I loved the characters he has crafted in The Bladed Faith. I did wish we saw them interact more to deepen their respective relationship further. This, of course, does not change my opinion that the battle scenes were well-written, especially in the climax sequence. I hope a more equal balance between characterizations, actions, and world-building will be achieved in the sequel to come in 2023 because I do enjoy reading the character's journeys, and I want to feel even more immersed in the crimson carnage on The Island of Thanet. Picture: Map of The Island of Thanet by Sam Swords Overall, The Bladed Faith is a well-executed revenge story charged with endearing characters and bloody action sequences. It's a story about reigniting the candle of hope when darkness invades. Faith and hope rested upon the skull mask and the twin blade wielded by Cyrus Lythan, and I think The Bladed Faith should rightfully earn a spot in reader's hearts who love reading a fantasy novel embedded with found family, incredible training montage, and great assassins. I look forward to reading the sequel as soon as it's released. “The life we wish for, and the life we have, will never meet… If your parents weren’t king and queen, they might have survived Thanet’s invasion. They also might have been soldiers who died defending against the initial wave of boats. They might have been priests executed in the early days when the Dead Flags filled not a crossroad but whole streets. We cannot judge ourselves by the unreal worlds we spin about ourselves. In this world, the real world, your parents were cut down before your eyes. Your sorrow is real, as is your pain. It could have broken you, but it didn’t. You lived on. You grew. You are not defined by your doubts, Cyrus, but the path you walked to bring you to where you are now.” P.S: The author told me that I'm featured in this book as a drunken sailor named Kirt for a few pages. I've read the scene, and I'm truly thankful for this honor. You can pre-order this book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Blackwells (Free International shipping) The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing! My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Element, Elias, Ellen, Ellis, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Jennifer, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Neeraja, Nicholas, Oliver, ReignBro, Reno, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Scott, Shawna, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.

  2. 4 out of 5

    LIsa Noell "Rocking the Chutzpah!"

    My thanks to Orbit books, David Dalglish and Netgalley. Did I love this book? No. Heck, I really didn't even like it much. I did like the different p.o.v. It tends to keep the story moving forward in the slow times. And not howdy, did this book have some slow times. Too much training and not enough character building. Then too much fighting, and "again" not enough character development. I was frustrated 😞. I was happy to see some humor. I'll admit that the last 25% of the story was better. The revel My thanks to Orbit books, David Dalglish and Netgalley. Did I love this book? No. Heck, I really didn't even like it much. I did like the different p.o.v. It tends to keep the story moving forward in the slow times. And not howdy, did this book have some slow times. Too much training and not enough character building. Then too much fighting, and "again" not enough character development. I was frustrated 😞. I was happy to see some humor. I'll admit that the last 25% of the story was better. The revelations will keep me ready and waiting for the next book! It saved this story for me. Brought it from 2* up to 3*.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Holly (Holly Hearts Books)

    I didn't finish this book. It finished me. Full review on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVTdX... I didn't finish this book. It finished me. Full review on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVTdX...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nick Borrelli

    Original review posted on my blog Out of This World SFF: https://outofthisworldrev.blogspot.co... I have to admit to being a bit of a latecomer with regard to David Dalglish's books. But better late than never as they say because he is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors in the genre. His last series, The Keepers, really made me stand up and take notice because of its brilliant world-building and magic. Even though each book was fairly lengthy I flew through each one in record time, the st Original review posted on my blog Out of This World SFF: https://outofthisworldrev.blogspot.co... I have to admit to being a bit of a latecomer with regard to David Dalglish's books. But better late than never as they say because he is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors in the genre. His last series, The Keepers, really made me stand up and take notice because of its brilliant world-building and magic. Even though each book was fairly lengthy I flew through each one in record time, the story was that enthralling. So when I saw that David had a brand new book coming out, I simply could not get my hands on it fast enough. THE BLADED FAITH is very much a fantasy story about revenge and the time and dedication it takes to obtain it. When the small island nation of Thanet is viciously invaded and eventually colonized by the extreme theocratic Everlorn Empire, things seem more than hopeless. Especially when the people of Thanet's gods and rulers are executed in front of their very eyes. Prince Cyrus eventually escapes and it is there where the story truly takes shape as he begins the process of becoming a force of inspiration to try and rally his homeland. But it won't be easy as the Everlorn Empire has not acquired its territory by peacefully integrating those that it conquers. The choice they offer is not an appealing one - convert to the twisted religion which guides its rulers and submit completely, or die. This book kind of reminded me of another series that I really adore, The Last War by Mike Shackle. There is a very similar theme to it with regard to one country being decisively taken over by another and then the aftermath that results from that both in the daily life of the conquered and also the conquerors. That being said, this is no carbon copy and Dalglish definitely lays out his own unique and intriguing story to revel in. The religious fanaticism aspect was one that I found really compelling and also disturbing at times when you see just how blinded by faith people can become. The characters in THE BLADED FAITH are what made me want to pick this book up at all hours of the day and night. I mean, I was angry when I had to stop reading it. Besides Cyrus, we also are introduced to some others who have their own motivations when it comes to resisting. Possibly even some within the empire itself. These characters were especially intriguing to me as it gave another perspective of the story which showed that maybe not everyone is on board with what the empire espouses. Speaking of characters, they don't get much more despicable and evil than the Imperator Magus and those who serve under his command. I HATED this dude with the fire of a thousand suns. If you like your villains to be complete a-holes, then Magus fits the bill perfectly and you will wish terrible things to happen to him every time you read a scene with him in it. To be able to create someone this unlikable is a real testament to David Dalglish's writing chops in my opinion. When I finally turned the last page of THE BLADED FAITH I was left with a sense that I had just read a truly magnificent beginning of what promises to be a phenomenal fantasy series. Dalglish has made me a believer and I now feel compelled to read every single book that he has ever written. Maybe I'll do that as I wait for the next juicy installment in this one. If you are looking for an exciting and interesting new fantasy series to start, I suggest preordering this immediately. You won't find many better opening books and you are going to want to have this one downloaded or shipped the day that it is released, trust me. Unforgettable characters, astonishing world-building, wondrous magic, and top-notch writing should make this a welcome addition to any fantasy lover's TBR shelf!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maja Ingrid

    The first book in Dalglish latest series, The Vagrant Gods. Since both the Seraphim and the Keepers are highly loved series for me, this one was one of my, if not the most anticipated releases of the year. And sadly, I must say it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Granted, they were kind of unfair, being sky high. It took over half the book to really get in the groove. Not because the plot was bad or I disliked the characters, both of those were great. It came down to the pacing and how f The first book in Dalglish latest series, The Vagrant Gods. Since both the Seraphim and the Keepers are highly loved series for me, this one was one of my, if not the most anticipated releases of the year. And sadly, I must say it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Granted, they were kind of unfair, being sky high. It took over half the book to really get in the groove. Not because the plot was bad or I disliked the characters, both of those were great. It came down to the pacing and how fast the plot moved, especially in the beginning. The first chapter concerns the invasion of Cyrus’ home. Then immediately in the second chapter it’s already been two years. And for the next 140-150 pages, another 3-some years pass. We see nothing of Cyrus’ time as a captive, only what little is told afterwards. We get the ivasion but then immediately comes his rescue, training and time jumps until Cyrus is “deemed” ready to actively join the rebellion group. I would have liked actually seeing his time being the invader’s hostage to grow an emotional connection with Cyrus and his cause, and the training part to be less jumpy. It felt smoother once we were past that part but still took me a while to find my footing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Arundeepak J

    4.75/5 The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish is a fast paced revenge story that'll keep you on edge of the seat throughout. Outstanding series opener for the The Vagrant Gods series First of all huge thanks to the publisher and author for approving my request on NetGalley and it goes without saying that this is my unbiased review / opinion. When his parents and Gods were slain by the Mighty Everlorn Empire in front of his eyes during the Invasion of Thanet... Cyrus, the Prince becomes something more 4.75/5 The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish is a fast paced revenge story that'll keep you on edge of the seat throughout. Outstanding series opener for the The Vagrant Gods series First of all huge thanks to the publisher and author for approving my request on NetGalley and it goes without saying that this is my unbiased review / opinion. When his parents and Gods were slain by the Mighty Everlorn Empire in front of his eyes during the Invasion of Thanet... Cyrus, the Prince becomes something more the people of Thanet need in their desperate time. He becomes their Hope. He becomes The Vagrant Prince. WHAT WORKED FOR ME IN THIS BOOK Pacing / Writing: From page 1 to page 460 there was never a lull moment in The Bladed Faith. Not a single unnecessary scene. The Pacing was fast without ever being rushed. Breathing time between the fights and the ramp up of tension before a big confrontations were all executed properly. Action sequences were explosive, the world building was really well done and the writing was simple and direct which never affected the flow of the story. Characters: Even though the story is about Cyrus it doesn't mean secondary characters didn't get enough page time. Each character is unique with a distinct voice and a proper arc. You'll feel sad for them. you'll feel frustrated by their action and you'll feel happy when they feel happy. Also, the conversation between the main characters were really fun to read. Each character has a factor that drives them through the rebellion that adds a shade to their character... Revenge for Cyrus and Thorda, Love for Stasia and Mari and Belief for Rayan. Also, the antagonists of this story, oh my... you would love to hate them. They are just plain cruel. It was really something to see the world from their POV. And also, I loved the training montage of Cyrus even though it's a small part of the book it was written really well and makes you root for the guy and I'm a sucker for a weak character who becomes the badass after sheer hardwork 😅 WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR ME IN THIS BOOK A minor nagging, I saw the big reveal coming a 50 pages or so before. But that didn't affect my overall enjoyment at all. FINAL WORLD: After reading The Bladed Faith, one thing I know for certain is that I should definitely start the other works by David Dalglish. The Bladed Faith is Razor sharp.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Erickson

    The Bladed Faith is a new release from David Dalglish and it centers on Cyrus, a deposed prince in an island nation whose family is killed as a larger empire takes over and slays their patron gods. Cyrus is spirited away into a rebellion as Vagrant, the face of revenge against the Everlorn Empire, as the rebellion plans to loosen the grip that the Empire has across the world. Cyrus must learn how to be Vagrant, and how to work with his rag-tag team of revolutionaries each with their own skills i The Bladed Faith is a new release from David Dalglish and it centers on Cyrus, a deposed prince in an island nation whose family is killed as a larger empire takes over and slays their patron gods. Cyrus is spirited away into a rebellion as Vagrant, the face of revenge against the Everlorn Empire, as the rebellion plans to loosen the grip that the Empire has across the world. Cyrus must learn how to be Vagrant, and how to work with his rag-tag team of revolutionaries each with their own skills in order to maximize the ability to stir the people against the Empire. I kept almost DNFing Bladed Faith. It took me nearly the whole month to finish it. The beginning is very good and then the next 20-25% is a very long training section. It just went on and on and on. I also found the characters to be interesting separately but I never found their dynamic together to be elevated. We kept being told how much they liked and cared about each other but I never really felt it. I'm also tired of teens getting really strong fast, montage aside. The main character is a spoiled prince until he's 14 and then he spends about three years training, and then suddenly he is able to defeat some of the world's strongest fighters; I hate this trope. It just feels very unearned to me, and is such a slant towards younger fantasy protagonists. Skip forward a decade and have a 25 year old protagonist instead of 18. It will still get read, I promise. I did really like the world, and the magic, and one of the villains, Sinshi. The last 10% of the book did some really interesting things and I may read the second book because of it...but for so much of the middle 60% of this book I was pretty bored. 6/10

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mihir

    Read full review over at Fantasy Book Critic OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I have read a preliminary draft of the story and then I got to read the finished version. I must confess foremost, I’m a David Dalglish fan so my opinion is a bit subjective. I’ll do my best to be objective as well. Now that disclaimer is out of the way. I can safely proclaim that this book definitely has all the highlights of David Dalglish's beloved works: - Insane action - Magic and magically infused weapons - Gods and a lot more g Read full review over at Fantasy Book Critic OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I have read a preliminary draft of the story and then I got to read the finished version. I must confess foremost, I’m a David Dalglish fan so my opinion is a bit subjective. I’ll do my best to be objective as well. Now that disclaimer is out of the way. I can safely proclaim that this book definitely has all the highlights of David Dalglish's beloved works: - Insane action - Magic and magically infused weapons - Gods and a lot more going on in the background - Characters who are three dimensional, going through a lot internally and externally - Tightly plotted stories that will have big reveals down the line So there we go, now if you want my first impressions, I will tell you this book is possibly one of the best ones to be released in 2022. If you think that’s hyperbole, allow me to explain why I think so. Firstly I want to give kudos to Orbit books, they always have been knocking it out of the park with their covers. Finally we have a US publisher whose cover rival the UK ones and arguably can be considered the better with many of their products. David has always been blessed by Orbit with stupendous covers and here with The Bladed Faith, we get possibly one of my favourite covers of all time. I mean look at this full cover spread by ChaseStone. So let’s talk about the story, which begins with an invasion that soon turns into a bloodbath of divine proportions. The small island Of Thanet has been invaded by the continental empire of Gadir. However Thanet has been blessed with two gods: Endarius the Lion & Lycaena the Butterfly who have blessed and kept the island populace safe. Things go sideways and crown prince Cyrus sees his gods and family slaughtered brutally before being taken as a hostage. Next we are introduced to Mari and Stasia, sisters from a foreign country who have come to Thanet to help against the Gadir invasion. Mari and Stassia hate the empire, having seen its insidious spread. They will do everything to resist and they do that with the axe and claw....That’s all I can say without any major spoilers about the plot. The story is mainly focused around these three characters Cyrus, Mari and Stassia amidst other POV and non-POV characters. Each of them are unique and have different facets as they strike to lift the Gadir imperial yoke. But things are never easy and especially not when the Gadir empire is fueled by its immortal emperor and his near god-like progeny. This book deals with colonialism, and displays it rather brutally (as was the case with history). David Dalglish makes no apologies for showing such brutalities but handles it deftly and without making it a spectacle. The story is dark and violent as Cyrus is slowly and surely transformed into a symbol of resistance with the help of the sisters and their reclusive father Thorda Ahlai. The readers are given a front row seat to the making of a legend and the guile & deception that goes behind in making it. "You will be a phantom killer. A merciless shadow. A god among mortal men." Cyrus’ ascent into becoming the Vagrant will not be slowed down by anyone including Cyrus himself. David Dalglish is playing the long game with this series and for those who are a world filled with Gods, magic, paladins, action involving magical weapons will find this intriguing. For those who are looking for a little something deeper will also find it and more. The action sequences while being similar to his previous books are more subdued. Yes there's still fights showcased but nothing like what we have come to expect from books set in the world of Dezrel (but that's only for now). It's the silence in between the action sequences, that really makes this book a much stronger book IMHO than his previous works. Lastly while I’ve been gushing about this book, I have to point out that this book is just the first. While it has a very satisfying climax and a stunner of an epilogue including the very last line. There’s a lot (and I mean A LOT) that is left lingering and unanswered. I would point out again that this is not a simple straightforward story of revenge and gods. Tis’ that and so much more, I’ve have gotten to read the next book and can only say that this is just the opening stunner of a story that will outshine what comes before. Also to in the interest of objectivity, I must also pinpoint that for me while this book didn't have any drawbacks. For many readers, this book might be quite dark, and considering where we are with the pandemic. This might be a book to read with a happier state of mind. There's also some really gruesome scenes and colonial after effects which again might be too much for many readers. CONCLUSION: The Bladed Faith is gripping, violent and action-packed. It is also about colonialism, PTSD, fighting the good fight & what it truly means to put your life on the line for what’s right. This is David Dalglish at his finest and the Vagrant Gods trilogy promises to be his best story that he’s published so far.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David S Meanderings)

    4.75 stars The Bladed Faith is a headlong sprint into the chaos of revolution and revenge. A compelling exploration of love, loss, grief, and hope. Thank you so much to Orbit books for this advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. Wow what a ride! David Dalglish is an author that I haven’t had much experience with so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one. I am a sucker for revenge stories, especially ones that aren’t mindless rage all the time and delve deeper into explori 4.75 stars The Bladed Faith is a headlong sprint into the chaos of revolution and revenge. A compelling exploration of love, loss, grief, and hope. Thank you so much to Orbit books for this advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. Wow what a ride! David Dalglish is an author that I haven’t had much experience with so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one. I am a sucker for revenge stories, especially ones that aren’t mindless rage all the time and delve deeper into exploring those emotions of grief and anger that the protagonist is dealing with. “The wise can rebuild a better world from the ashes, but for there to be ashes, we must first burn down the old and the rotten. I say we get to burning.” The characters in The Bladed Faith are not one dimensional. Cyrus, Mari, Keles, Thorda, and Stasia in particular are very complex characters that felt so real and relatable in many different ways. The main POV and who we get to see the most of is Cyrus, the last royal standing after his parents were murdered by their conquerors, the Everlorn Empire. We get in Cyrus’ head quite a lot throughout the story which was the perfect way to understand exactly where he was coming from. Cyrus is a concoction of so many differing traits packed into one. He is kind and caring, yet angry and sad. He is afraid, but also courageous. Filled with doubt and insecurity, yet driven and determined. Cyrus is a perfect example of how to portray a conflicted character. “Only we decide who we are. No one else. The Vagrant is just a mask. It is an identity you slide over yourself like a cloak. It can be removed. It can be rejected. You are not a slave to it, no matter the pressures you face or the guilt that weighs upon you. Clinging to it may grant survival, but it may also drag you under. Always know the difference. Always make it your choice.” However, each of these characters have their moments to shine. Each one brings something unique to the table to form the the main lense from which we view book 1 of this series. We have Stasia, the extremely strong and tough, yet kind warrior. Mari is the god-whisperer and the peacekeeper of the group. I loved the mix of gentleness and optimism that counterbalanced the ruthlessness she exhibits in battle. Thorda is the money and mastermind behind the rebellion. Haunted by his harsh past, he is utterly resolved and determined to do all he can to see Thanet’s rebellion succeed. And then there is Keles. I honestly am not 100% sure why, but I instantly connected with Keles. She is such a compelling character. The faithless Paladin who despite herself decides to help the rebellion anyway. I loved her character in this book even though we only met her about halfway through. Another thing that is done very well in this book is tension. In part because of the very nature of this book, the rebellion of a conquered people, the tension is almost always high. The protagonists are always in danger of being discovered and/or killed and because of that I was always worried about the fate of these characters that I had come to love very quickly. “Empires crumble. They grow and swell and conquer, and with each gluttonous mile they swallow down, they come that much closer to bursting. Their foundation is rot. It trembles beneath them as they climb for the sky. Let Thanet be the breaking point.” I am a huge fan of found family and it is all over the place in this one. I love seeing bonds of loyalty that run so deep despite horrible circumstances. The way that Cyrus, Stasia, and Mari form an adopted sibling like bond was especially moving and heartwarming to see. The plot moved at a brisk pace that felt like a natural fit for the story. There is an abundance of action and suspense, with some intrigue smattered here and there throughout the narrative. There is also quite a bit of introspection and meaningful character moments throughout this tale. I devoured the last 21% in one sitting, keeping myself up until 2am to do so. There were big reveals, twists and turns, and so many little hints at what is to come! The Bladed Faith is riveting, immersive, action packed, and downright epic. Despite it being only the beginning of February I know that it will be on my list of favorites for 2022. I cannot wait until the sequel comes out next year so I can see how Cyrus and company fair in the coming chaos!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    “You will be a phantom killer. A merciless shadow. A god among mortal men.” At first I was worried this was going to be YA with Endarius a lion god, and Lycaena the butterfly goddess, but what I actually read was a stunningly, violent, revenge story full of blood and gore. Anytime I read a well written fantasy with classic well loved tropes, but done in a modern way, I fall in love with Fantasy all over again. Who doesn’t love a reluctant hero, older mentor, great found family, or a magical relic “You will be a phantom killer. A merciless shadow. A god among mortal men.” At first I was worried this was going to be YA with Endarius a lion god, and Lycaena the butterfly goddess, but what I actually read was a stunningly, violent, revenge story full of blood and gore. Anytime I read a well written fantasy with classic well loved tropes, but done in a modern way, I fall in love with Fantasy all over again. Who doesn’t love a reluctant hero, older mentor, great found family, or a magical relic?!?! Not to sound like a broken record but especially when a male author can represent women in such a strong and powerful way! It shouldn’t be “refreshing” to see women equally included in military or warrior roles, especially in Fantasy, but Dalglish did this VERY well. Then there’s the beautiful representation of same sex couples, and even a religious priest protecting a trans women. I thought this would be a typical, violent, alpha male, revenge plot, but it was so much more. After young Cyrus the prince of Thanet, witnesses his beloved parents and his god brutally slain, and his kingdom invaded, he remains captive by the conquering Everlorn Empire. Fatefully, leaders of a long brewing rebellion rescue Cyrus and vow to train and sculpt him into the powerful symbol of their rebellion, The Vagrant. David Dalglish created such an endearing, reluctant hero in Cyrus. While overcoming great odds and internal battles, your heart aches for this poor young man. But honestly the emotional insight is so exceptional with all of the amazing characters, you really feel and understand exactly why the characters make every single decision. Without a doubt my favorite characters are sisters Stasia the (bloodthirsty) Ax of Lahareed, and sweet (yet ferocious) Mari the god whisperer. These two deserve their own series. But not to be outdone by loyal Rayan a paladin of Lycaena. I’m also VERY intrigued by Arn the “Heretic” and Soma the horrible paragon. It should almost go without saying that the sword training, epic fights and battles are incredible. And the gorgeous descriptions of Thorda’s crafted weapons had me drooling. I’m very excited to read more of Dalglish’s work because I loved his writing style and battle scenes. Thank you to David Dalglish and Orbit Books for the opportunity to read this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars It's always a wonderful experience when a book hooks me in from the first chapter. This was one of those times! This novel had a fantastic setup that made me immediately sympathetic to the main character. Revenge narratives are such a common fantasy plot, yet I was hooked as I I was reading the trope for the first time. I really enjoyed the cast of characters. The main character was immediately likeable, but I found the supporting character perspectives to be nearly as compelling. Told of 4.0 Stars It's always a wonderful experience when a book hooks me in from the first chapter. This was one of those times! This novel had a fantastic setup that made me immediately sympathetic to the main character. Revenge narratives are such a common fantasy plot, yet I was hooked as I I was reading the trope for the first time. I really enjoyed the cast of characters. The main character was immediately likeable, but I found the supporting character perspectives to be nearly as compelling. Told of multiple perspectives, I appreciated how cohesive the narrative felt. It was clear how the perspectives were interconnected which made the larger story easy to follow. Overall I really enjoyed this one and would definitely read more by this author. I'm looking forward to the next novel in the series, which should come out next year. While this was not the most innovative fantasy, this classic narrative still managed to fully capture my attention. I highly recommend this one to anyone else who loves a good revenge plot. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rob Hayes

    I was lucky enough to be given an ARC of this one by Orbit. This book was FANTASTIC! It was like Final Fantasy meets Green Arrow! Not that there was any archery, but the whole displaced prince thing. I got that same thrill I did when reading the Night Angel trilogy, of witnessing a legendary assassin in the making. The book has a style of prose that is just easy to slip into. It's not complicated. That may sound like a bad thing to some, but it's not. The ease and flow of it allow you to be absorbe I was lucky enough to be given an ARC of this one by Orbit. This book was FANTASTIC! It was like Final Fantasy meets Green Arrow! Not that there was any archery, but the whole displaced prince thing. I got that same thrill I did when reading the Night Angel trilogy, of witnessing a legendary assassin in the making. The book has a style of prose that is just easy to slip into. It's not complicated. That may sound like a bad thing to some, but it's not. The ease and flow of it allow you to be absorbed into the world quickly and completely. There's some really cool magic too. For those of you who have played the games, it reminded me of the summons magic from Final Fantasy. And to top it off, David Dalglish made me really care for the characters. There were times when I feared for their lives and was ready to hunt David down and scream 'WHYYYYY?!?!?!' at him. I didn't because that would be weird, but I thought about it. :D All in all, a thrilling, action-packed, stabby, magical tale about a conquering empire and a city that refuses to give in. I can't wait for the sequel.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    The Bladed Faith is the first in David Dalgishes’ new series, Vagrant Gods. Dalglish, who has proven himself a master of action over the last several years (and is fresh off the phenomenal finale of his last series, The Keepers) has managed to publish yet another fascinating fantasy series. I came for the amazing cover and intriguing synopsis and stayed for the fantastic fight sequences, intriguing storyline, and compelling characters. The Keepers was my first Dalglish read, and ever since I have The Bladed Faith is the first in David Dalgishes’ new series, Vagrant Gods. Dalglish, who has proven himself a master of action over the last several years (and is fresh off the phenomenal finale of his last series, The Keepers) has managed to publish yet another fascinating fantasy series. I came for the amazing cover and intriguing synopsis and stayed for the fantastic fight sequences, intriguing storyline, and compelling characters. The Keepers was my first Dalglish read, and ever since I have considered the author to be a master of action scenes – both in quantity and quality. I point out the “quantity” because, to me, that is so important. Part of the reason I love great fight scenes is due to the fact that, in my opinion, if done correctly they make the pacing so much better. And Dalglish does it right. The buildup, the tension, the violence, the after effects; it all contributes to the rhythm of the narrative that I enjoy best. One that is fast and furious. Of course, the quality is important, also, and this is another area where the author always shines. The detail and descriptions are on point, and so much emotion is brought into play. On the surface these scenes are violent and bloody, often brutal, but the reader also gets ongoing internal monologue from the characters, which I really enjoy. As a reader, I want to know what is going on in the minds of the characters, especially when they are face-to-face with an enemy. This is when emotions are highest, and I love seeing the characters show those emotions while demonstrating their fighting skills. Of course, none of that would matter if I did not care about the characters. This is another strong suit that the author demonstrates: the ability to make the reader give a damn. Dalglish accomplishes this by developing characters with strong motives. We get that in these characters, as well; vengeance, love, hate, and affecting change are all reasons that are explored in the pages of The Bladed Faith. And they are all character motivations I love to read about. The storyline was really intriguing, as well, and I love how many moving parts there are. The more components a plot has, the more opportunity for an author to add levels of drama. Dalglish does a great job using of those different elements to keep things interesting. One small aspect I noticed is that I think in some of the in-between developmental times, the story feels a little rushed. This is kind of nit-picky, as everything is really well put together for the most part. It just seems like at certain parts the author runs through things a little quickly. It does not affect the story much, in my opinion, I just would have liked for that down time to be a little more thorough. All in all, The Bladed Faith is a great read. Dalglish is back at it, bringing savage characters with sharp blades and storylines with catastrophic consequences. The Vagrant Gods series has so much promise, and I am excited to see where it goes from here. This is a must read for fans of fantasy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    First, love the cover. It's what drew me to this book. Then the description, as if written for me. And well all the promise is true. If you pick this up you'll get a fast paced tale of tragedy and revenge that keeps you hooked even if there are lots of genre tropes and lots of stuff that is predictable. But be ready for lots of violence and gore. And there is an obvious cliffhanger at the end so if you're not a fan of those best to wait for all three books. In a way wish I did. Cheers. First, love the cover. It's what drew me to this book. Then the description, as if written for me. And well all the promise is true. If you pick this up you'll get a fast paced tale of tragedy and revenge that keeps you hooked even if there are lots of genre tropes and lots of stuff that is predictable. But be ready for lots of violence and gore. And there is an obvious cliffhanger at the end so if you're not a fan of those best to wait for all three books. In a way wish I did. Cheers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Holly (The GrimDragon)

    Review to come!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jordan (Forever Lost in Literature)

    *4.5 Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! The Bladed Faith was such a great and truly riveting story that I’m not kicking myself for not reading Dalglish’s other books already when I had the opportunity! The Bladed Faith is a book about revolutions, rebellion, and fighting for what’s right no matter the cost it will take to get there. The stakes are extraordinarily high, and the characters in The Bladed Faith are not afraid of those stakes or anyone who poses a threat to them. In The Bl *4.5 Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature! The Bladed Faith was such a great and truly riveting story that I’m not kicking myself for not reading Dalglish’s other books already when I had the opportunity! The Bladed Faith is a book about revolutions, rebellion, and fighting for what’s right no matter the cost it will take to get there. The stakes are extraordinarily high, and the characters in The Bladed Faith are not afraid of those stakes or anyone who poses a threat to them. In The Bladed Faith, we follow the orphaned and usurped prince Cyrus as he has the opportunity to be molded into a revolutionary figure known as “Vagrant” that will serve as a source of inspiration and strength to his kingdom to fight back against their oppressors of the Everlorn Empire. The Everlorn Empire is particularly brutal in how they invade a nation, as they take care to slaughter the gods of each land they invade in front of their devotees in order to jumpstart the breaking of their spirits, as the Everlorn Empire intends to eventually mold them into following their own religion. We largely follow the perspectives of Cyrus, Stasia, Mari, and Rayan, though there are other characters that are important to follow in this book as well. I was particularly drawn to Rayan for his loyalty and overall demeanor, but I truly enjoyed following each and every one of these characters. I think Dalglish did excellent work in creating characters that I found myself fully invested in and rooting for every step of the way, as well as characters that all felt multi-dimensional and truly able to stand apart from one another. Because of their many differences, I found myself really enjoying watching the relationship between various characters and how different aspects of their personalities worked with others. For instance, Stasia is a tough, hardened warrior, while her sister, Mari, is a somewhat quieter and more peaceful person (well… for the most part), so seeing how those two interacted and how their relationship was affected by that was really compelling to watch. And if you love having an antagonist to hate, trust me when I say you’ll absolutely loathe the villain character of The Bladed Faith. In addition to the great characters, plot, and world-building, it is the pacing and writing in this book that I think really set it over the top for me enjoyment-wise. I really couldn’t put this book down due to the fact that there was constantly something compelling happening that had me hooked. It’s not that there’s constant action–although there’s plenty of action to keep you entertained–but rather that there’s just always something interesting and important to the plot happening that makes every page feel important. There’s also plenty of information thrown at us along the way as well about the world and its history, but I never found it overwhelming, and instead felt that it worked well in the story and only added to the depth of the world and our characters. This book is full of political intrigue, religion, and of course rebellion. It is also a book full of tough, compelling characters from many different backgrounds that come together to fight together for a greater cause than any of them. Not only do they want to free Cyrus’ kingdom from their oppressors, but also on a much grander scale they want to take back the land that the Everlorn Empire has overtaken, spreading to regions even further and wider than Cyrus was aware of. There are some pretty big twists and discoveries that Cyrus is confronted with throughout the story–and in particular some pretty big things at the end of the story–that make this story feel much bigger than what we get to see in this first installment, which is already pretty big. I was also captivated by the world-building in The Bladed Faith and am particularly excited to see how Dalglish will continue to expand this world-building in future books. Overall, I’ve given The Bladed Faith 5 stars! I’m excited to see where Dalglish where take this story in the future because it has some pretty huge potential, and I have high hopes that things are going to get even more epic as the series continues. Also–I guess it’s time to start diving into David Dalglish’s backlist while I wait for more!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adah Udechukwu

    The Bladed Faith was a worthwhile read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    I'm a sucker for kickass character art. I'm a sucker for kickass character art.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Will

    8 / 10 ✪ https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com... How did one weigh one atrocity against another? According to David Dalglish, this is his 20th novel (something I’m not going to measure or question at all and just go with)—and what better way to mark the occasion than with a review…? Okay, okay, I guess I could’ve got him a gift or something. Might have to, after this goes live. Because while I did quite like the book, it wasn’t quite the adventure that the Keepers was, nor the chaos of Shadowdanc 8 / 10 ✪ https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com... How did one weigh one atrocity against another? According to David Dalglish, this is his 20th novel (something I’m not going to measure or question at all and just go with)—and what better way to mark the occasion than with a review…? Okay, okay, I guess I could’ve got him a gift or something. Might have to, after this goes live. Because while I did quite like the book, it wasn’t quite the adventure that the Keepers was, nor the chaos of Shadowdance. But we’ll get into that later. When Prince Cyrus was twelve, the Everlorn Empire came to his shores. A quick and decisive battle later, his fleet was demolished, his city burned, his gods defeated, and his parents killed. Taken prisoner to legitimize the Empire’s rule, for two years Cyrus was paraded about as the captive prince, until the execution of his gods gave him an opportunity to escape. Now, holed up in the Thanet countryside, Cyrus is given his one chance to strike back at the Empire that took everything from him. The fledgling resistance—such as it is—needs a figurehead to legitimize their cause, and the former prince is perfect for the job. But, his road to revenge isn’t to be an easy one. For while the island needs an heir, the path to freedom is not paved with diplomacy. Not entirely, at least. Instead Cyrus is secretly trained to be a killer: a god of blood and fury, wielding twin sabres and hidden behind a skull mask and cloak. The Vagrant rises to protect Thanet, and to see its invaders to the shores. But not all is as it seems. Cyrus’ god-given right to rule is not as solid as he once thought, and the mantle of the Vagrant isn’t the heroic role he imagined. Soon he will discover the real weight of his duty—and the price of his vengeance. — “You took from me everything I loved. My parents. My kingdom. Even my gods. I can’t unmake the loss, but I can make you hurt. I can make you afraid. “And you will come to fear me, monsters of the empire. You will fear the Vagrant Prince when he comes to reclaim his crown.” He lowered his swords. A smile cracked his stern expression to match the one on his mask. He laughed to himself, mood unable to remain serious for so long. “Hopefully.” — As tales of vengeance go, the Bladed Faith is the start of a pretty good one. An impressionable boy willing to do whatever it takes to avenge the deaths of his parents, his gods, his kingdom. Willing to kill for Thanet’s freedom, even at the expense of his life. But the deeper he goes down the rabbit hole, the more he questions it. The more he learns, the more it haunts him; the lives he’s ended, the path he’s taken, the secrets he’s found. There’s a very real sense, throughout the book, that Cyrus is keeping it all together through sheer force will, maybe bound by scotch tape and bits of string. His mental heath is way past questionable even before he was imprisoned by the invaders that destroyed his whole world. That he’s just going to come to pieces at some point, some point soon. And the secrets that he learns—I mean, I can’t give anything away here, but it sets up an epic conclusion, one I truly did not see coming. And while it’s great to see an author address the health and stress and mental battles coming with killing so much (and that becoming a “heartless killer” isn’t something that a person can just turn on and off with no repercussions), I would’ve actually liked to have seen a bit more of it. Let me explain. When you really get into it, the Bladed Faith boils down to two key aspects: fight scenes, and the exhaustion that comes after. I mean, yeah, there’s some set-dressing, some political intrigue, some world-building and lore and whatever else. But the key moments—especially after the halfway point—boil down to the fight, and what follows it. It’s really hard to complain about the fight-scenes. It’s not like some books where that’s all there are, or others where they are too few and too far between. Plus Dalglish writes them so well! There a good amount of battles, scraps, prowling rooftops, ambushing soldiers, screwing up and having to fight their way out. When the battle is raging, the battle-lust is high. But when the red leaves their eyes—especially for Cyrus—the aftermath is near as intense as the actual fight. That said, it feels… incomplete, somehow. See, there’s usually a cutaway between the fight and the exhaustion that follows. A break in the narrative that occurs just at that point where it goes from “kill kill kill” to “what have I done?”. I think that’s one of the reasons it never felt really fulfilling to me. The other being that none of Cyrus’ heartfelt moments after seem to come to fruition. And while I understand the reasoning behind the latter, I don’t so much for the former. When it works—as it does quite often—there’s nothing to complain about. When it’s done well, it really gets you thinking, considering the story from a new perspective. But it doesn’t always work. There’s a… for a book that strives so much to detail the emotions of its protagonists, this seems like a strange tactic. Just a break when emotions are running their strongest, or their weakest; when the battle-lull sets in, and the lust fades. Yes, there’s plenty of time spent examining what happens after, but it’s “some time after”, not “directly after”. I suppose what I’m objecting to (as it’s not even that obvious to me) is the break in the range of emotions. We’ve had the highs of the battle. Then there’s a break. And now we’re dealing with the lows of the experience. This is predominantly what I remember happening (there are a few that go: highs of battle, then a lull, then a break, or lull to full downturn, but really nothing that encompasses the whole thing)—I suppose all in all, it seems a rather minor thing to harp on, but in a book that seems to spend so much time on the emotions of becoming a hardened killer, it really doesn’t ever seem to focus on the entire range of emotions. For the resistance against such an enemy as the Everlorn Empire, whose borders span pretty much the known world, the tiny isle of Thanet is the perfect setting. We don’t have to focus on the world in its entirety. There aren’t a lot of unconnected POVs placed strategically amidst a vast sea. We focus on a little island a hundred leagues from the mainland, and the whole of the story takes place here. While there is lore about the rest of the empire, especially the farther we get on, the reader only has to really focus on Thanet. I really liked this; I thought it worked really well. While I was curious about the larger world (I always am—I can’t help myself), I was happy enough to concentrate on this one part of it so long as the story centers there. Now the author has hinted that the Vagrant Gods trilogy could just be one piece of a much larger tale—one that surely would involve a glimpse of the much larger world—there are no specifics at this point. And while I will admit that some fantasies that span the entire globe do turn out to be AMAZING, they can be quite overwhelming at first. And some readers can burn out on them quite quickly. The smaller, more centralized story here shouldn’t suffer the same. And while some readers will invariably DNF this, it’s likely not the number had it been a universe-spanning, millennial-long tale of truly epic proportions. TL;DR I’m not sure what the future holds for the Vagrant Gods, but I know I’m on-board for it. While it’s not the perfect execution in my mind, the Bladed Faith deals with far more than the stabby-stabby bits of an impressionable youth turned hardened killer. There’s quite the range of highs and lows, emotional and mental fortitudes, and long, hard looks at oneself within. And though the emotional range is a little lacking to what I might’ve liked, it’s far more than that of other books and media where our protagonist flips a switch between killer and average guy like it’s nothing at all. This story of vengeance takes place in the secluded corner of a truly vast empire, and rarely stretches beyond its shores. Yes, there is a bit of lore and history of the Empire and its wars, but for the most part our attention remains glued on Thanet. And I loved that. I thought it worked quite well as the introduction to a possibly grander story. It doesn’t overwhelm or distract the reader with dozens of POVs over thousands of miles; it concentrates on this little isle, so long as the story centers here. Which it does throughout the Bladed Faith, at least.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I received an advance reading copy of The Bladed Faith from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. And honestly? I'm not a fan. I REALLY thought I was going to like this book. It's about a young prince named Cyrus who sees his royal parents executed in front of him. The usurper who invaded the country & stole his father's throne kept Cyrus a prisoner until he's able to escape with the help of some rebels. After his escape, he's given a choice: either run away to live his life in hiding o I received an advance reading copy of The Bladed Faith from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. And honestly? I'm not a fan. I REALLY thought I was going to like this book. It's about a young prince named Cyrus who sees his royal parents executed in front of him. The usurper who invaded the country & stole his father's throne kept Cyrus a prisoner until he's able to escape with the help of some rebels. After his escape, he's given a choice: either run away to live his life in hiding or learn to fight & become the hero who can lead his people to freedom. Naturally, he chose option two: he wants to learn how to fight. And not just because he wants to free his people but also because he wants to avenge the brutal murder of his parents. Sounds great, right? The evolution of a young prince from captive to vengeance-seeking hero is a very appealing idea for a story, but we don't see that evolution because we barely get to know Cyrus. The book starts the day of the invasion, and we don't see anything about Cyrus's life before the invasion. Then, the story skips ahead two years from the day of invasion to the day of his escape, so we don't see anything about his time in captivity. Sure, there are a few references to his life before the invasion and to the ill-treatment he suffered during his captivity, but that part of Cyrus's story never gets fleshed out so, consequently, his character never gets fleshed out, either. The author pushes the plot forward by doing a lot of "telling" and not a whole lot of "showing." Through very long scenes filled with lots of talk, we find out a lot more about the people who are helping Cyrus and how the empire subjugated other lands and killed their gods, too. But we don't find out a lot more about Cyrus. So, he's just as two-dimensional at the end of the story as he was at the beginning and that's a shame. I was very excited to read Cyrus's story, but this book ended up being more about the rebellion & other people in it and not so much about Cyrus. It was very disappointing. I give it 2.5 stars (I'm being generous by rounding it up to 3)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    ARC copy provided by Orbit in exchange for honest review. The Bladed Faith brings along many of the ideas and, at this point, tropes one can come to expect out of a David Dalglish series: scorned hero, brutal action, and a religious war where the gods are real, tangible creatures. It combines the brutality of the Shadowdance series with the religious fervor of the Keepers trilogy. Unfortunately, it falls a bit flat in an area where both of those series shines: character. The central character is ARC copy provided by Orbit in exchange for honest review. The Bladed Faith brings along many of the ideas and, at this point, tropes one can come to expect out of a David Dalglish series: scorned hero, brutal action, and a religious war where the gods are real, tangible creatures. It combines the brutality of the Shadowdance series with the religious fervor of the Keepers trilogy. Unfortunately, it falls a bit flat in an area where both of those series shines: character. The central character is Cyrus, who lives through harsh traumas and comes out of it trying to grapple with them and with new responsibilities he gains in the early parts of the novel. As the main character, he goes through the most development and, as expected, has the most fleshed out personality of the bunch, but during the middle portion of the novel, his character became a bit flat and unpredictable. There is a flashy cast of characters around him that have some depth, but not much nuance about them. The most interesting, I found, is Rayan, who struggles to understand the meaning of faith in a desperate time in his life. His crisis grabbed me and hooked me into seeing where the character could go. Not enough is done with Mari, though that may be as a result of this being Book 1 of a trilogy. Mari is a character whose actions and personality clashes, and while Dalglish makes some hints and insinuations about what could happen, Mari's character drifts into what most others in this book do, which is turning into a weapon that has no real meat to them. This is a book about fighting and bloodshed. While it attempts to have lessons about morality, truth, the dangers of faith, and friendship, it ultimately comes down to several fight scenes and action setpieces that read similarly over and over again. Few scenes capture the grandeur that he showed in previous works. But there is significant promise in this story. While the characters are, mostly, a bit flat, there is great potential in each one of them to become something truly interesting. Cyrus, in particular, becomes a character brimming with conflict and insecurity, making him a wildly unpredictable character. Dalglish also does an excellent job of creating setup and payoff. Thematically, there are tiny moments in the story that come back around in significant ways by the end, used either as foreshadowing of critical events or to reveal true character motives. There is one mystery in particular that is set up perfectly, and executed well, too. Overall, I wish I could give this book a 3.5 or 3.75. A three feels too low, and a four feels too high. It doesn't do anything remarkable, doesn't do much to standout among other fantasy revenge stories, but it sets up an interesting world and creates a strong foundation for the ensuing books.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael Torres

    “You will be a phantom killer. A merciless shadow. A god among mortal men.” The Bladed Faith was a riveting fantasy story about The Everlorn Empire that has been destroying and assimilating regions, and the rebellion that is attempting to fight back. The POVS come from both sides (with the majority coming from the rebels side), and this gave depth to the entire conflict. Our main POV and central protagonist is Cyrus. Cyrus witnessed the slaughter of his gods, his family, and the assimilation of h “You will be a phantom killer. A merciless shadow. A god among mortal men.” The Bladed Faith was a riveting fantasy story about The Everlorn Empire that has been destroying and assimilating regions, and the rebellion that is attempting to fight back. The POVS come from both sides (with the majority coming from the rebels side), and this gave depth to the entire conflict. Our main POV and central protagonist is Cyrus. Cyrus witnessed the slaughter of his gods, his family, and the assimilation of his island Thanet into the empire. Rebellion builds on Thanet and Cyrus becomes embroiled in the dispute between the two factions. The characters within the rebellion are complex, well rounded, and easy to connect with. Dalglish does not shy away from making our rebels morally ambiguous, as they perform some brutal maneuvers in order to fight back against the empire. Numerous times it was questioned on where the line is drawn when facing off against overwhelming odds. The POVs on the empire’s side provided insight on why they invaded, and on the political systems within the empire. The gods of this world are being hunted down and killed by the empire and replaced by their own religion. Chosen followers are able to harness gifts from these gods and become walking tanks upon the battlefield. They make up troops on both sides of the war, and seeing their interactions always made for tense combat scenarios. The narrative is well paced, and filled with plenty of action and world building, while still leaving mysteries to unfold in the sequels. The prose was easy to follow, flowed well, and was engaging throughout. This is my first time reading a novel by David Dalglish and I was not disappointed! I am looking forward to the next instalment in the Vagrant Gods, and checking out his other work. Pros -Complex and morally ambiguous main characters -POVs from both sides of the conflict lend depth to the situation -Found family trope for the rebellion -Deals with themes involving colonialism and the assimilation of other nations -Tense battle scenes between the empire and our rebels -Mystery surrounding Everlorn Empire and their endgame -LGBTQ representation Cons -Heavy with fantasy tropes! I am okay with these but I know it can be a detractor for some

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rodger’s Reads

    4.5 star rounded up. If you like epic high fantasy with evil empires, uprisings, stealthy assassin training, LGBT rep, and gods who are actually tangible beings in the world and directly involved in events then this book is FOR YOU!! In this world each kingdom has their own patron gods and goddesses who not only guide their subjects but impart magical gifts as well. For quite some time now there is an evil emperor known as the God Incarnate who has been invading and murdering these pantheons of d 4.5 star rounded up. If you like epic high fantasy with evil empires, uprisings, stealthy assassin training, LGBT rep, and gods who are actually tangible beings in the world and directly involved in events then this book is FOR YOU!! In this world each kingdom has their own patron gods and goddesses who not only guide their subjects but impart magical gifts as well. For quite some time now there is an evil emperor known as the God Incarnate who has been invading and murdering these pantheons of deities and subverting the populace into worshipping him. The most recent conquest is in the small island nation of Thanet. The first 10-15% of this book was some of the most epic fantasy I have read in ages. It literally felt like the book equivalent of epic boss battles in Elden Ring with the lion god Endarius (who I picture like Maliketh in my head cannon) and Lycaena (who reads like the Goddess of Rot but with less rot) fighting to save their realm side-by-side with their paladins...it was literally so awesome. Then we had all of the world building learning about the evil God Incarnate trying to kill the deities of every other realm....like come on. We follow our main character Cryus, prince of this small kingdom, and a group of loveable misfits as they foment rebellion to try to break the stranglehold of the evil empire. This book is such a good time, I would highly recommend and keep your eyes peeled for a full video review on my YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/RodgersReads).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mary Robinson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I received an ARC from Netgalley / Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. This novel had the potential to be quite good. I think it could have been a very interesting exploration of religion, conquest, and revolutionary politics. The "god-whispering" and faith-based magic system are intriguing concepts. Dalglish is also capable of being quite vivid; the fight scenes in particular were a lot of fun to read. Unfortunately, none of this was enough to make the story consistently enjoyable. In I received an ARC from Netgalley / Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. This novel had the potential to be quite good. I think it could have been a very interesting exploration of religion, conquest, and revolutionary politics. The "god-whispering" and faith-based magic system are intriguing concepts. Dalglish is also capable of being quite vivid; the fight scenes in particular were a lot of fun to read. Unfortunately, none of this was enough to make the story consistently enjoyable. In his author's note, Dalglish mentions how he came up with the characters and wrote a handful of scenes that appear in the novel before he ever came up with a plot or a developed setting. This is very apparent in the novel. Almost every aspect of the story felt underdeveloped. Some specific issues: -The plot moves very slowly until the very end of the book, when a bunch of new plot points (e.g., Sinshei’s plot to take the throne, Stasia being a demigod, Cyrus turning into a god) are suddenly introduced and left unaddressed. It seems like this book was just a drawn-out introduction to the upcoming sequel. -While the fight scenes were fun, I do think they were overused. There were 3-4 chapters at the end of the book that basically described the exact same fight scene from different points of view. This didn’t move the plot forward and was pretty frustrating after a while. -The "rules" of the magic system are not explained at all. Since magic plays a rather integral role in the plot, the lack of clarity was frustrating. All we really know is that magic is somehow linked to the gods and/or worship/faith. However, faith alone does not seem to be enough to grant someone powers. Most of the citizens of Thanet and the empire do not appear able to use magic at all, despite being deeply religious. Generally, it seems like characters' ability to use magic depended entirely on what was convenient to the plot. -The gods are not explained either. They take physical form and apparently can be killed—but not really? They are supposed to be mighty enough to cause entire religions to be built around them, but can also be captured and executed within hours of an invasion by humans who have been on ships out at sea for six entire months. Humans can be made into gods or at least be made "god-like". Gods can also mate with humans somehow. Nothing related to the gods made sense, which really broke my immersion in the story. -The central conflict of this novel (Cyrus & Thanet vs. the Empire) feels flimsy. This is for two primary reasons: 1. We do not get to experience (directly or through flashbacks) Cyrus’ treatment at the hands of the Empire after his parents are executed. Cyrus references a few vague instances wherein Gordian behaved cruelly, but nothing is elaborated upon. We are basically just told over and over that Cyrus is angry. Basically, Dalglish “tells” way more than he “shows”, making empathizing with/ caring about Cyrus difficult. 2. The Empire is not a strong enemy. Every “bad guy” — from the soldiers to the actual antagonists— is a one-dimensional bully. They are cruel for the sake of cruelty. While it may be believable for some of the bad guys to behave like this, entire societies/cultures are not that simplistic. Also, they lose almost every battle with the protagonists. Large groups of the Empire’s soldiers are frequently decimated by a group consisting of fewer than 10 individuals. How were they able to conquer entire nations if their fighting ability is this pathetic? The book clearly tries extremely hard to be nuanced. Because it tries so hard, the complete lack of nuance and insight kind of slaps you in the face. Honestly, it seems like Dalglish read a couple of news stories about some bigoted Evangelicals being homophobic and then decided an entire empire could be formed based solely on that belief. The insinuation that all polytheistic religions are somehow “kinder” than monotheistic religions or that they lead to less bigotry is also ridiculous. Dalglish’s childish take on religion (in a book marketed to adults) really ruined the immersion for me. I do think this book had potential. Dalglish should take more time to flesh out his setting (particularly the values/beliefs of the different societies in his world) and the motivations of his characters. He should also explain more about the gods and the magic because they are integral to the plot. Most of all, he should resist the urge to overgeneralize complex topics like religion, especially in the obvious ways he does in this book. If he keeps these things in mind, I think the sequel will be a genuinely fun and engaging story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark - Shield Anvil

    “I don't want a prisoner. I have no need of a slave. I want a weapon. I want a god of death the empire one day fears. Is that you?” The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish is the first book in his new series The Vagrant Gods. I am a newcomer to Dalglish's books and I must say I am quite impressed. We are thrown into a battle between rivaling kingdoms right from the start and it is exhilarating. I absolutely loved the start to this book. The forces of the Everlorn Empire capture the kingdom of Than “I don't want a prisoner. I have no need of a slave. I want a weapon. I want a god of death the empire one day fears. Is that you?” The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish is the first book in his new series The Vagrant Gods. I am a newcomer to Dalglish's books and I must say I am quite impressed. We are thrown into a battle between rivaling kingdoms right from the start and it is exhilarating. I absolutely loved the start to this book. The forces of the Everlorn Empire capture the kingdom of Thanet. The Magus of Eldrid brutally murders the king and queen, all while young prince Cyrus watches helplessly. This is the seed to a revenge story that takes a great deal of set-up and training respectfully. From captivity for two years and the deaths of his two gods, Cyrus escapes with the help of paladin Rayan and makes for the resistance led by the man Thorda and his two daughters Stasia and Mari. “The wise can rebuild a better world from the ashes, but for there to be ashes, we must first burn down the old and the rotten. I say we get to burning.” This book is told through multiple point of view characters, and it excels because of it. We see this devouring rule of the Everlorn Empire's God-Incarnate through multiple eyes of survivors and fighters. It builds the character interactions and world wonderfully. A good chunk of the book is the training of Cyrus, which takes time obviously due to the fact he is just a teenager and has never fought or killed before in his life. However, revenge is a strong motivator and while the training does take a while the pacing is helped by the other POVs to break it up. The author also uses small time jumps in order to illustrate how much training Cyrus undergoes. I appreciated this because it makes the protagonist not simply an over-powered character all of a sudden but one that needed growth, which takes time and effort and instead of hundreds and hundreds of pages of training. The time skips help with the pacing. The Everlorn Empire is the typical big bad conquering force. Expanding their rule through an iron-fist of indoctrination to their corrupt Uplifted Church. The teachings of which are bigoted and evil. They require mandatory religious service attendance and outlaw anything critical of the God-Incarnate. They condemn same-sex partners and do not allow them to marry or even be together. It's a very despicable thing and definitely pulls from some religions and beliefs we see in our world today, sadly. “Your church stole from us our gods. Your soldiers stole from us our kingdom. You stole my crown, magistrate, and so I give you the only crown I deem you worthy to bear.” Some of the POVs are told through these antagonist characters, I really love that Dalglish included these perspectives as I always love reading through the eyes of a villain. However one thing I did not care for were just how downright evil sounding and acting these characters were. They sort of felt like the typical comic-book supervillain just bent on killing and killing and killing. Just a small gripe of mine. It does make you just absolutely loathe them though! My favorite thing about this book is the theme of found family. The characters are well developed and you feel a sense of attachment to pretty much all the main group. I definitely found myself loving Stasia and Arn, although we don't get a lot of Arn. I'm excited to keep discovering these characters over time in the next book. This is a very digestible and easy to read book, the prose feels very modern and not flowery or over-explained. I often prefer the more flowery type of prose but that just how I personally enjoy reading. The prose here is totally fine and if you prefer more simplified writing you will love it. Overall, 4.25 out of 5 Shields from me. A great first book of a new series with wonderfully developed characters, great pacing and a satisfying build-up and conclusion. The world feels real, the gods and magic unique, the combat brutal, I eagerly anticipate the next one! Thank you to Orbit, NetGalley and the author for the eARC. Sorry I could not get this review out before the release! “What purpose does a god serve if they lack the strength to protect their people?”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andi

    I'd like to thank Orbit and NetGalley for allowing me a chance at reading this book. This was my first time with David Dalglish's writing. He has a wonderful world he has created. The problem is, I don't really understand it and there is no real world-building. A book like this which has gods existing amongst mortals, getting killed off, people taking on the god's powers? This requires some kind of background and or world-building on the gods themselves. This book bypasses all of that and you are I'd like to thank Orbit and NetGalley for allowing me a chance at reading this book. This was my first time with David Dalglish's writing. He has a wonderful world he has created. The problem is, I don't really understand it and there is no real world-building. A book like this which has gods existing amongst mortals, getting killed off, people taking on the god's powers? This requires some kind of background and or world-building on the gods themselves. This book bypasses all of that and you are left with characters in a plot that you don't quite understand. I'm not asking people to be a Brandon Sanderson when it comes to world-building and plot going hand in hand, but I'd like some sort of depth and or scope to the story. These characters are just doing things without the understanding of why it is important and why I should care for the world they live in. I was attracted to this story because I thought that a Prince taking on the moniker of a legendary hero had a Batman vibe to it, or even a Scarlet Pimpernel vibe. But after finally getting to that point, after slogging through 35%, I felt upset because the villains themselves were hardly strong enough foes for him to fight. The villains themselves just existed and there was no real background or depth to them either. I don't know if this book is for me, and therefore, I don't think I can really continue to read it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trinity

    3.5 So, I am going to have a bit of trouble reviewing this book because the audio just was not enjoyable. I did find myself dozing off when trying to listen to it but after a while I decided to just read it myself. The beginning of this book is action packed, as we see the beginnings of an invasion. This action quickly drops off as the MC escapes to live a life away from the palace to bide his time to return. Here the book time jumps as he undergoes training to be an assassin. This should all be 3.5 So, I am going to have a bit of trouble reviewing this book because the audio just was not enjoyable. I did find myself dozing off when trying to listen to it but after a while I decided to just read it myself. The beginning of this book is action packed, as we see the beginnings of an invasion. This action quickly drops off as the MC escapes to live a life away from the palace to bide his time to return. Here the book time jumps as he undergoes training to be an assassin. This should all be a stabby good time from that point on, right? Well, no. For what the synopsis promises, there is very little of that to be found in the book. However, I can't say that this book is bad, or not worth it (maybe the audio isn't) but I can say that the pacing of this book is all over the place. I found some parts super fast paced and exciting and others a bit droll. The characters are well written and I think that is where this book's strengths lie. Our band of misfits is quite enjoyable and their abilities are fascinating. I am looking forward to the next book but I don't think I will be picking up the audio.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Audrey S

    An action packed fantasy for fans of Arcane! I love an author who can make you love characters almost instantly, but also plants the seed of “trust no bitch’ right away. This is my first Dalglish book and damn, call me impressed. I kid you not when I say that I fell in love with just about every single character in this book. The entire cast is perfect and meld and bounce so well off of each other. It’s a testament to Dalglish’s craft that he can get you so emotionally connected so quickly. And th An action packed fantasy for fans of Arcane! I love an author who can make you love characters almost instantly, but also plants the seed of “trust no bitch’ right away. This is my first Dalglish book and damn, call me impressed. I kid you not when I say that I fell in love with just about every single character in this book. The entire cast is perfect and meld and bounce so well off of each other. It’s a testament to Dalglish’s craft that he can get you so emotionally connected so quickly. And then of course he has to hurt them so badly - but I’m a masochist of a reader, so I enjoyed a lot of the pain he put these characters (and the reader) through. And the story? The twists? I was screaming in my notes for the second half of this book and could not put it down. This book also gave me major Arcane vibes, in the sense of the characters & the storytelling style - Dalglish is careful not to fill in the story wall to wall, but let’s it breathe and grow into something I think any fantasy fan will love sinking their teeth into All this praise being said, this was also rough read for me, a Queer reader from a former religious background. There are some scenes that were very difficult to read and I was not expecting them. One scene that was personally difficult for me to read was a scene that involved threatening a sapphic couple with sexual assault if they did not comply with the newly implemented conservative laws. Dalglish gives his Queer characters strength and power and love, but he puts them through the emotional ringer too. Especially right now, this may not be a book that some Queer folks should look to for escapism - so take care when picking this up. CW: violence, gore, homophobia, transphobia, death of parents, threatening sexual assault on a sapphic couple, use of the term “crossed-women” for trans women, descriptions of fat bodies shapeshifting (which I thought was straightforward and well done, but this could differ for other readers) & child murder *I received an eARC from NetGalley & Orbit in exchange for my honest review*

  29. 4 out of 5

    sol

    GIVEAWAY WIN! really intrigued by this one can’t wait to try it!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    4 1/2 stars I think we can all admit that there are times when we are drawn to a book solely because of its cover, despite the old adage, “Never judge a book by its cover”. I ignored that upon seeing the cover of The Bladed Faith, with its mysterious masked figure holding a sword. Reading the book summary, I felt that David Dalglish had written a very intriguing fantasy. I have to admit I am glad to have judged this book by its cover. It is a riveting story of a deposed prince, Cyrus, the subjuga 4 1/2 stars I think we can all admit that there are times when we are drawn to a book solely because of its cover, despite the old adage, “Never judge a book by its cover”. I ignored that upon seeing the cover of The Bladed Faith, with its mysterious masked figure holding a sword. Reading the book summary, I felt that David Dalglish had written a very intriguing fantasy. I have to admit I am glad to have judged this book by its cover. It is a riveting story of a deposed prince, Cyrus, the subjugation of his people, revenge, political intrigue and betrayal. I was swept into this world from the first page. Each character was skillfully crafted, and there were several protagonists and antagonists. The magic was perfect, not over used nor overdone. This is a character and plot driven book, so I felt the world building is not the main focus. The story takes place entirely in one city, some of the outskirts, and we get glimpses of other places through flashbacks. The Bladed Faith mainly focuses on Cyrus, who becomes The Vagrant, a masked, skilled fighter who will rally his people to freedom. The narrative is told in the third person and uses one of my favorite techniques, where each chapter focuses on a different character. I like this because I get a glimpse into each character separately, what drives them, and how they think. It also makes me eager to pick up their story again when we next encounter them. There is both LBGTQ representation, and suppression of it, which mirrors what goes on in our society and I found very important to include. I was completely immersed in The Bladed Faith by Mr. Dalglishs’ skillful prose and story of a reluctant hero trying to help his people, and the obstacles tossed in his way, very often surprising from where they come from. This is fantasy at its finest and I highly recommend The Bladed Faith. The main protagonist, Cyrus, is the embodiment of the reluctant hero. He is the deposed prince of the peaceful kingdom of Thanet, until it is invaded by the Everlorn Empire, his parents, and their gods killed. In one day, his life of peace and luxury comes to a grinding halt. He his held hostage for two years, serving as a puppet for the Empire, who force him to call on his people to renounce their gods and worship the God-Incarnate of the Uplifted Church. Cyrus is a naïve young 14-year-old boy when this happens, knowing little outside of Thanet before the invasion. He is subsequently rescued by the Paladin Knight sworn to protect him, Rayan. He is taken to a wealthy man, Thorda, and begins his training to become The Vagrant. He will serve to rally his people to rebel against the Empire. Cyrus is a complex character. When he complained too much about his harsh training, he became quite annoying. When he forces himself to train harder, driven by his past and cruelty of the Empire, he begins to mature and see his role as that of rightful leader of Thanet. They change is gradual over two years. It is realistic for a “pampered” prince to resent hard training and have self-doubt about becoming this vengeful hero, The Vagrant. Cyrus’ character arc is very well done, and elicited many different feelings for him. He was brave to give himself up only to see his parents murdered, he became a little whiny when he trained, and he eventually matured into the fighter he was trained to be. In this role he is at once unsure of himself, and confident in his skills. I liked Cyrus’ character very much and he was well constructed. The other main characters are Thorda, his two daughters, Stasia and Mari, the Paladin knight, Rayan, and the main protagonists Magus and Sinshei. Each one is thoroughly fleshed out and all elicited a response from me. Some I loved, others I hated, and still others I wasn’t too sure about. Where did they really stand in all of this? Thorda is very wealthy and funds the rebellion, and is responsible for training Cyrus, along with his daughter Stasia. He is stoic and focused on the rebellion, sure that Cyrus will succeed in his plan for him to become the Vagrant. Thorda and his daughter’s homeland was destroyed by the Empire, and Thorda’s husband, who originally wore the mask, was executed. He and his daughters have stirred up unsuccessful rebellions throughout the empire, but now Thorda is sure this will succeed. Thorda is very interesting. He carries guilt about his husband’s murder and anger at the Empire. What is his driving force? Is it revenge or to really free the people from the Empire? Stasia is unusually strong and trains Cyrus, along with Thorda, Mari is a god-whisperer. She can take the form of the dead gods of a kingdom. In this case, Thanet had the gods Endareus the Lion, and Lycaena. Mari “shares” her body with Endareus, becoming a one-woman lion killing machine. Rayan is a Paladin Knight of Lycaena, sworn to protect the royal family. He cares deeply for Cyrus, and he in fact, was the one who rescued him. Stasia is also representative of the LBGTQ community with her girlfriend Clarissa. When the Empire takes over, and bans same sex relationships, they must sneak moments together and keep it secret. Cyrus, Stasia, Mari and Rayan are powerful force the rebellion. Magus and Sinshei, the main antagonists, play their role well very too well. The religion of the Uplifted Church and worship of the God-Incarnate is fanatical. It’s basically worship or die, which I suppose is an effective recruiting tool. While Thanet has Paladins, the Empire has paragons. Best way to describe them is Captain America on steroids, tossing in the ability the ability to heal, making them almost impossible to fight. They are chosen and go through a ritual to become a paragon. Magus is a paragon, and has taken the role of Imperator of Thanet, or the Usurper King, as the rebels call him. He is merciless in his treatment of the people. He fills the antagonist role perfectly. Sinshei is a priestess, her role to spread the word of worship and force attendance to the Uplifted Church. She is one of the daughters of the God Incarnate. Sinshei has an agenda, and it’s very interesting to see it play out with Magus. Despite that, she’s neither good or likeable. The magic manifests in several ways. There is no one singular magic system in the book. There is Mari being a god-whisperer who can share her body with deceased gods. She has taken on several forms over the years, and in Thanet, she becomes the lioness and huntress as the incarnate of Endareus. Mari can change form at will, she is not the lioness at all times. Rayan, the Paladin Knight, has imbued strength from the goddess Lycaena. Although she is “dead”, he feels her spirit and still prays to her for strength. The paragons of the Everlorn Empire are the most dangerous, gifted through blood ritual with inhuman powers, they are nearly impossible to kill. I found it quite refreshing to see magic in different forms. It was a different way to use magic, Mr. Dalglish wields it exceptionally well. Overall Thoughts The Bladed Faith is an excellent addition to the epic fantasy genre. Cyrus, the rightful prince of Thanet, becomes the reluctant masked hero, The Vagrant. There is so much more to this story of Cyrus. Joined by Rayan, Thorda, Stasia, and Mari, they inspire the people to rebel against the empire that brutally took over. As the people suffer, Cyrus is molded into The Vagrant. He doubts what he can do, but he grows as a character who becomes more confident in his skills, and also seeks revenge for his parent’s murder and the abuse of his people. All of these characters are excellently composed with complete character arcs. The antagonists, Magus and Sinshei, are fanatical in their imposing of the religion of the God Incarnate and the Uplifted Church. They all elicit a strong response in the reader, which is what great writing will do. I cared about what happened to Cyrus, and I seriously wanted Magus and Sinshei to pay for their crimes. Seamlessly entwined into this fantasy is political intrigue, betrayal, fanaticism, and the subtle use of magic. Magic was incorporated on several fronts; the god-whisperer, Mari, who takes in the Lion God Endareus and change into him when needed; the strength of the Paladin Knights, and the creation of the paragons. Not having one “universal” magic system makes this stand out and more interesting. Finally, there is LBGTQ representation in Thorda and Stasia. There is also the persecution of same sex relationships by the Empire, a mirror of the struggles of the LBGTQ community constantly faces. I like the fact that I am reading more of this representation in fantasy, and Mr. Dalglish handles it beautifully. I highly recommend The Bladed Faith, and eagerly await the next book. Reviews are always up on my blog: https://bookandnatureprofessor.com/

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