Thursday, February 6, 2014

Outcasts, Allies, Song Maidens and Monsters - Jesse Duckworth's "A Song of Betrayal"

Following is my review for Friend of the Blog, Jesse Duckworth of Harren Press:
Jesse Duckworth’s A Song of Betrayal is a fun fantasy read, and excellent introduction to the world of Harren. There is excellent depth and breadth in a world that clearly has a history and characters that live and breathe on the page.

Duckworth tells the story of Weylin, and through him we start to understand the race called Balauri, and their rich, divided history. Weylin has somehow fallen from grace and been banished from his homeland in disgrace. But Weylin, a Balauri who had only been second to the queen, isn’t content to simply live his life. He has a plan, though one that is very thin, and he has started to collect allies like Falk, a fellow outcast.

A Song of Betrayal provides a well-developed world in which the action of the plot takes place. Duckworth includes bits of historical text, and wonderful songs reminiscent of those found in “Lord of the Rings” to provide layers of depth. The characters are caught up in both their own past and the history of their world, which is a delight to learn about.

Duckworth does an excellent job creating a believable world and living characters in a dangerous and thrilling world. One of my favorite sequence of chapters included the ship’s crew that Weylin and Falk travel with as they journey to find other allies, where they fight the sea, storms, and great monsters. The writing is crisp, clean and the plot moves along at a wonderful pace.

While the book is a bit on the short side (which left me wanting more), and Duckworth relies on some classic fantasy tropes, the entire effort is well-crafted and the story holds together beautifully. A Song of Betrayal sets up the world of Harren, the flawed and believable characters that inhabit it, and a plot wrapped around the desires of those characters. Duckworth is more than just a capable storyteller. He’s very enthusiastic about his writing, and the reader will definitely feel that intensity coming off the page.

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