cover image The Martyr’s Blade: Chronicles of the Martyr, Vol. 1

The Martyr’s Blade: Chronicles of the Martyr, Vol. 1

Joel Manners. Colquhoun, $14.99 trade paper (594p) ISBN 978-0-9972594-0-7

Mixing the usual ingredients (dungeon crawls, sword of destiny, good corrupted by evil, betrayal by trusted colleague) with an unusual amount of fellowship, debut novelist Manners fashions a tasty if roughly mixed fantasy. Centuries after the defeat of the evil Nameless King, malefactors begin performing blood sacrifices to raise his undead servants. Trying to stop them, a band of temple guardians, rangers, thieves, and adepts, including the queen’s sister, Danielle, ride into the snow-swept northern marches of this fantasy world, hoping to rediscover a path to Highward Tor, the lost legendary stronghold. While the party chases increasingly horrific foes, crown and temple clash over Danielle’s control of the Martyr’s Blade, the sword that dispelled the Nameless King. Manners injects a considerable amount of positive emotions and camaraderie into a narrative that mercilessly does away with a number of its heroes. He also addresses hot-button topics such as rape and taboos around same-sex relationships in ways that bolster the oppressed rather than blaming the victims. Fans of heroic adventures will be gratified. (BookLife)