Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish. I’ve never read a Dalglish book before, but I’ll definitely need to check out his back list after reading this one.
A usurped prince prepares to take up the mantel of a deadly assassin and reclaim his kingdom, his people, and his slain gods in this epic fantasy from a USA Today bestselling author.
Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents—the king and queen—beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader’s court for years, Cyrus is suddenly given a chance to escape and claim his revenge when a mysterious group of revolutionaries comes looking for a figurehead. They need a hero to strike fear into the hearts of the imperial and to inspire and unite the people. They need someone to take up the skull mask and swords and to become the legendary “Vagrant”—an unparalleled hero and assassin of otherworldly skill.
But all is not as it seems. Creating the illusion of a hero is the work of many, and Cyrus will soon discover the true price of his vengeance.
***Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit Books for a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I was hooked on this book from the very first chapter. The descriptions of battles and violence were incredibly cinematic and unabashedly horrific. The themes explored were interesting, and the tropes used were many of my favorites. The characters were morally ambiguous and often struggled with figuring out the right thing to do, which made them interesting to read. The pace was uneven at times, but the fascinating world-building and other aforementioned characteristics made up for it, in my opinion.
I always love a good rebels versus empire story, and this one didn’t disappoint on that front. The empire and its minions were as evil as they could possibly be, and they acted as excellent avatars for the exploration of many of the book’s most interesting themes. The horrors of colonization were on full display here, and I found the politics of the imperials to be a fascinating look at the long-game involved in the subjugation of indigenous people using a combination of law, psychology, faith, and brutality. The story also illustrated the perils of theocracy and how much life can change in the shift from a liberal society to one that is dominated by an uber-conservative proselytizing religion. The picture it painted wasn’t a pretty one. However, I think it’s a prudent warning, and I appreciated the glimpses of realistic day to day consequences for the characters that the author sprinkled throughout the narrative.
My favorite thing about this book was the magic system and its setting. The world was easy to imagine, and the magic system based on faith was a fascinating idea that created some twists I wasn’t expecting. I also liked its use to illustrate the power inherent in faith and how that power can be harnessed for nefarious purposes. I was completely sucked into all the scheming and use of propaganda to take advantage of people’s faith, and I appreciated that the book realistically portrayed both sides of the fight as purveyors of such tactics. That being said, the actual world-building itself left me a little underwhelmed. I really would have liked more history and more information about the magic system. Some of the ideas felt a bit rushed and underbaked, but I’m hopeful they will be expanded upon in future books.
I enjoyed reading each of the characters. Cyrus’s story was the typical tragedy and revenge story. His growth and struggle with whether he wanted to become the monster necessary to exact his revenge were compelling to read. However, I never really felt all that connected to him. He just felt somewhat removed from everything happening around him in a way I can’t quite explain. The side characters, on the other hand, stole the show for me. Stasia, Mari, and Rayan were all standouts for me. Stasia was a complete badass with lots of character. I adored her relationship as well and was worried about both of them throughout the book because they needed to be protected at all costs. lol. Mari’s magical abilities were incredibly cool to read about, and I hope to learn more about them in future books. Finally, Rayan’s steadfast faith and love for his people and prince were truly the heart and backbone of this novel. His character had so many great small, quiet moments, and I always looked forward to reading his chapters.
Overall, the plot of the book was interesting, and the setting, magic, themes, and characters kept me wanting to read more even when the pacing was a bit rough. The rebels did seem a bit overpowered, though, and I would have liked to see them struggle in the fights a bit more. Their prowess, even with all their training, seemed a little too good to be believable considering the force they were up against. Despite some nitpicky qualms, I really enjoyed a lot about this book and honestly wanted more of it by the time I got to the end. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. If you like revenge stories or faith-based magic, I think this would be a great book to pick up.