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A Grimdark Historical Fantasy Journey through the Crusades - an Editorial Review of "Oaths of Blood"


Oaths of Blood book cover

Book Blurb:


Oaths of Blood is an action-packed grimdark historical fantasy set during the Crusades, in the vein of Joe Abercrombie, Bernard Cornwell, and John Gwynne.

In 1099, the armies of Christendom march for Jerusalem. Mercenary captain Robert Cutnose finds himself in the belly of a siege tower waiting to storm the walls in a desperate attempt to take the city. But what they find inside the city is far more terrifying than the arrows and spears that fly their way...

After a savage attack by the moonlight, Cutnose’s lifeblood leaks from his veins, and he is thrust into an immortal war between the Order and their prey they simply call the Hunted. Each desires to own a relic with power far greater than he could ever imagine. With the aid of a secretive party of warriors, he must track down the man who ripped out his throat in the blink of an eye, for if he does not, his future as a human will be short.

As he crawls deeper into the shadows, it is clear, only oaths made in blood survive.

A war-filled journey through the crusades and into the depths of the ancient Noctis Bellum. Filled with legendary characters both barbaric and gray, driven by valor and treachery alike!


Book Buy Link: https://geni.us/z2jz9


Author Bio:


Logan D. Irons author photo

Logan is the author of the grimdark historical fantasy The Oaths of Blood Saga.

A lifelong traveler, he has visited over 50 countries for both for work and for pleasure. Lifted in Arnold’s childhood gym in Austria, asked his wife to marry him in an abandoned castle in Ireland, bartered for jewelry in a Kuwaiti souk, drank beers and sang quite poorly German songs at Oktoberfest in Munich, and burned a Viking ship during Hogmanay in Edinburgh.


Fantasy, historical fiction, and history novels dominate his library. In particular, the works of George R.R. Martin, Steven Pressfield, Bernard Cornwell, and Robert Jordan inspire his work. He currently resides in Virginia, a place with enough history to keep him busy until the end of time, with his wife, son, and a dog named Ronin the Barbarian.

If he has free time, which is rare, he throws axes (usually at targets), is physically active, and loves taking his family on adventures.


And he’s convinced his nieces he’s a werewolf…


Editorial Review:


"Oaths of Blood" is an outstanding novel that masterfully blends historical fiction with a supernatural twist. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Holy Lands during the height of the Crusades, this story offers a refreshing departure from the typical European-centric fantasy settings that dominate the genre. The author's descriptions and attention to detail breathe life into the historical setting, transporting readers to a time of intense religious fervor and epic battles. The characters are richly developed, each with their own unique motivations and complexities, making them feel alive and deeply engaging. The supernatural elements fit in seamlessly with the story and work to enhance it.

It’s astonishing to realize this is the author’s debut novel, given the sophistication of the narrative and the clear mastery of storytelling. "Oaths of Blood" is a gripping story that entertains and invites readers to explore a fascinating and often overlooked period in history.

Tancred lifted his sword and cried, “Deus vult!”

The crusaders surrounding him returned the battle cry, and Tancred raced onto the bridge, sword pointed over his shield, breaking any semblance of a shield wall. His blue-and-red shield vibrant as the sun’s rays. Brave fool, Cutnose thought.

“Kill them all!” He shouted, and his men were the fools that followed a step behind into the enemies’ waiting blades.


Above all else, the way tension is handled in "Oaths of Blood" is exceptional. The story begins in the midst of a siege and maintains its relentless pace throughout. From the first few pages, this book grips you and doesn’t let go until the very end. Iron draws readers into the bloody grit of the Crusades, only to plunge them deeper into a hidden war between the Order and the Hunted. The contrast between established religion and paganism is striking. It delves deep into a profound investigation of human experience and societal development. The story is a vivid portrayal of the era, capturing both its heroism and its horrors.


This novel begins during the First Crusade, a time when Christian armies set out to reclaim the holy city of Jerusalem. At the heart of this historical tale is Robert Cutnose, a mercenary captain fighting for the Christian cause. After the city falls to the Crusaders, Robert becomes entangled in a hidden conflict that has been simmering beneath the surface of history. The narrative starkly exposes a profound irony within a religion professing ideals of peace, temperance, chastity, and poverty, juxtaposed against its engagement in acts of violence that potentially eclipse those historically attributed to pagan worshippers.


The world building in this novel is exceptional, showcasing the author's thorough research and dedication to creating a rich historical fantasy. The setting is both fascinating and complex, featuring warring factions such as the Christians, Saracens, Turks, Franks, Normans, French, and English. The conflicts and interactions, particularly between Cutnose and Bor with their secrets, are captivating. The battles are intense and bloody, with gruesome scenes of people losing their heads. This is truly a Grimdark story, where the darkness of the world is fully realized.

Irons has created a setting that feels gritty and authentic, and the prose complements that perfectly. The blend of typically grimdark elements with the supernatural adds a compelling layer, drawing readers deeper into the story with every twist and turn. Irons skillfully reinterprets familiar legends, adding a unique and personal touch. As mentioned earlier, the story hits the ground running and the tension builds steadily throughout the novel, keeping readers eager to see what happens next.

This book offers a substantial and enlightening perspective on the Crusades, even for those unfamiliar with the era. Although it is a work of fiction, the author's notes at the end highlight the extensive research behind the story and offer insights into its historical accuracy. Importantly, all essential information is seamlessly integrated into the narrative, so readers don't need to consult the notes to follow along. Irons' detailed descriptions and comprehensive notes clearly demonstrate his deep knowledge and passion for this time period.


“Bah, he’s coming to tell us the sack is over.” Roger pointed at

Cutnose. “All the loot accounted for. Time for us to get paid.” “Tancred will keep his word,” Cutnose said.

“Better or we’ll break his lordly skinny arms.”

“Brave words. Your ugly head will be an ornament outside his tent by the end of the day,” Henry said.

Roger frowned, eyeing the men around him. “It’s the principle of the matter. A man should be paid what he’s owed. Contract was made. Oaths were sworn.”

“Fact remains the lords will pay us what they want,” Henry muttered. “It is the way of things.”

“If they want to have an army, they’ll pay us what was promised,” Cutnose said.


The characters are richly developed and fit seamlessly into their world. Cutnose stood out to me as an exceptional protagonist; his motivations as a mercenary were portrayed convincingly. His sense of humor also provided a delightful balance to the horrors of their world. Marya, the central female character, was intriguing, although her backstory and narrative were only briefly touched upon. Marya was a personal favorite for her strength and capability as a warrior, and she will be sure to leave many readers wishing for a deeper exploration of her character and backstory in future books. Additionally, Galahad was a compelling antagonist who added depth to the plot.


The battle scenes in the book are vivid and involved, capturing the brutality and gore of war with intense descriptive detail. Readers are immersed in the action, feeling as though they are right alongside the characters during fights. The visceral nature of the battles is fully realized, down to the smallest details, which only adds to the authenticity of the scenes. One notable aspect is the detailed descriptions of kills, all with the casual frenzied emotional detachment as one would expect in a real war. Injuries are depicted gruesomely, and Crowfeeder is an ever present element in the chaos. The sense of danger is palpable, as no character is exempt from the perils of war, heightening the intensity of the battle sequences. It's important to mention that while the depiction of gore is significant, it serves the narrative without being gratuitous, though sensitive readers might be put off by this. But for many others, this will certainly be a selling point.


In a departure from conventional narratives featuring shape-shifting or werewolves, Irons' treatment of these themes is distinguished by its maturity, uniqueness, and seamless integration into the intricately constructed universe he has developed. His portrayal makes them dark, organic, skillfully sidestepping any hint of superficiality or incongruity.


If you have a penchant for history set in the Middle Ages, immersive depictions of weapons and battles, elements of fantasy and the supernatural, a Grimdark atmosphere, and vivid, descriptive prose that brings worlds to life, then 'Oaths of Blood' is a must-read for you. Surprisingly, this book evokes strong parallels with the Elden Ring video game series more than any other book. Additionally, don't miss out on the prequel novella 'Bridge of Kings', which features some of the same compelling characters and comes highly recommended as well.


*****

"Oaths of Blood" by Logan D. Irons receives five stars and the "Highly Recommended" award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company


Award:


HFC Highly Recommended award of excellence

 

To have your historical novel editorially reviewed and/or enter the HFC Book of the Year contest, please visit www.thehistoricalfictioncompany.com/book-awards/award-submission

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