Frost offers a complex but meandering sword-and-sorcery epic in his debut.
After a city-state’s king dies and a pretender usurps his throne, the leaders of the surrounding lands start shifting their alliances. Among the key players are the former members of a mercenary group, the Brotherhood, and the evil wizards of the Black Shield. Azalar and Ferend, two Brotherhood mercenaries sent by King Lyle of Lightmark, arrive in Selenor to serve as military advisers to King Rowd, who has a fortified city but few trained troops. The two best friends predictably fall in love with two local girls, who are also best friends with each other. Fearless Azalar is reluctantly pulled into the world of magic, as it becomes his duty to destroy ancient swords possessed by evil spirits. Meanwhile, another section of the Brotherhood joins up with a rebel faction opposing King Gausun, the usurper ruler of Redhaze; a blackhearted mercenary discovers one of the aforementioned evil swords and wreaks general havoc; and the Black Shield Wizards conspire with Gausun to invade Selenor. Other genre staples, such as dragons, wraiths, demons, and monsters, are also in the narrative mix. Frost skillfully establishes an intriguing geopolitical landscape for his fantasy novel. His characters, who sometimes disappear for dozens of pages, are believable, if not very deep. That said, his efforts are undermined by weak editing, as there are misspelled words (“he made the boy’s sword slid overhead”), transposed words (“I have been assigned to complete royal a task”), and extra words (“he noticed that she was one the kind of woman that can get strangely attractive when angry”). This may cause readers to back up and reread sections, which could derail any narrative momentum. Also, readers will likely be unaware that this book is meant to be the first in a series until they read “to be continued” at the end.
A fantasy extravaganza that falls short in its execution.