Book Review: Black Guards by A. J. Smith. (Three Stars)


Book Review: Black Guards (The Long War#1) by A. J. Smith.

(Three Stars)

“They’ll just assume we’ll go into the wilds and lie low. The idea of us going to Tiris is so stupid it won’t occur to them.” “So, our stupidity is what’s going to keep us alive?” “Precisely … I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Engaging epic fantasy. Good world building. Touted for being Lovecraftian, but I didn’t feel it. In fact, Smith’s supernatural dimension felt more organic to his world. Prose was easy to read.  A little humor.

Numerous non sequiturs: “He was flabby, with little muscle, though still immensely strong.” (Huh?) “… carefully placed a bolt, and pulled back on the drawstring.” (Wrong order.) “She’d fed him some of the baled of straw.” (She picked up bales of straw as she fled? Why didn’t she get something nutritional?) “… as the horses barreled into the ornate gates …” (Horses are smarter than that.) “They rode, Brom sitting behind Rhan Jas, on the only horse they had left.” (which horse they then rode for weeks. Don’t you love fantasy horses?) Most weren’t that bad, but they destroyed verisimilitude knocking the reader out of the spell of the story.

“Not trying to instil a sense of loyalty in your troops then, brother?” “Loyalty is overrated; I prefer fear.”

Needed a world or at least area map. The three maps given were fine, but the relationship between them wasn’t always obvious.

“I wish I could turn it off … just for a while, but I can’t see beyond the rage.”

Despite being a series opener, story had a climax. Well done.

“So much death for so little gain.”