Recently, the SplatterGeist has been quite busy; I've been reading Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire Trilogy (currently busy with the final instalment; Emperor of Thorns), I have decided to re-read Peter V. Brett's blood-splattering Demon Cycle Trilogy, and lastly I've been skimming through a local (South African) author's debut novel.
Basically I became a temporary hermit.
In this post I'll be reviewing said local writer, Dave-Brendon De Burgh, and his novel called Betrayal's Shadow (which ultimately forms part of his Mahaelian Chronicle). If his name sounds oddly familiar to you, dear geist, fear not - I wrote a post about a short story he wrote earlier this year called A Song of Sacrifice. If you haven't yet read the novella and would like to have a bit more information about the world and such, I suggest you get the ebook from Amazon and start reading. Otherwise, if you can't be bothered, sit back and enjoy.
To business, shall we?
Currently living in Pretoria, South Africa, De Burgh has recently had his very first novel published by Cape Town-based publishing house Fox & Raven and has presumably still not stopped celebrating his success as a writer. If you're South African you can purchase his book at any Exclusive Books stores and if you're not, hop onto Amazon and get a copy.
Malice author John Gwynne was asked to read De Burgh's novel and said that the world Dave-Brendon had created was similar to Steven Erikson's Malazan series "in terms of its complexity and depth". Read about customer reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and you'll soon see why De Burgh's friends and acquaintances adore it.
De Burgh writes with a tone that's well-used in fantasy books regarding grammar and structure. His characters are interesting and the way in which he describes his action scenes are perfectly executed. There are elements of magic modern fantasy writers have forgotten. The protagonist and antagonist both contribute to the darker setting of the story and an intricate lore system weaves in and out according to the flow and tone of the novel in general.
If Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, and Peter V. Brett had to co-write a novel within a certain amount of time, then this is something which wouldn't be too far off the mark. Unlike others who have already reviewed Betrayal's Shadow, I'm afraid that I have to state that I feel its missing something.
Being a grammar Nazi, I can't handle it when I'm reading a book and halfway through there are over a dozen spelling and sentence structure flops. How does that even happen? Statistics show that your average novel has at the most three spelling errors - or anything similar. Shadow, it seems, has broken that record. I'm not saying it's a terrible book because no one bothers running the manuscript through a spell-check, mind you. For what it is, it's good. There are a few other minor mistakes here and there you wouldn't really notice - Brice suddenly thinking about something when he isn't physically there and this intrudes upon the scenario of two characters busy infiltrating a castle.
On the other hand...
Betrayal's Shadow has set the standard for future South African writers who specialize in the fantasy genre. It is, without a doubt, SA's most hardcore and gritty dark fantasy novel it currently has to offer - as per my knowledge and not including various sub-genres thereof. Not to be overlooked, De Burgh has rather acutely written a novel no fan of the weird and supernatural should avoid, even if only to read about some of the action sequences.