Hello, everyone! Today is my stop on the Blackthorn Book Tour for The Last Keeper by J.V. Hilliard. Below you’ll find a brief synopsis of the book, background info on the author, and my thoughts about my reading experience.
A young boy’s prophetic visions.
Blind at birth, Daemus Alaric is blessed with the gift of prophetic Sight. Now, as a Keeper of the Forbidden, he must use his powers of the Sight to foil the plans of a fallen Keeper, Graytorris the Mad.
An elven Princess with a horrifying secret.
Princess Addilyn Elspeth travels from Eldwal, the magically hidden home of the Vermilion elves, to begin her life as a diplomat to the human capital of Castleshire. During her journey, she stumbles upon a mystical creature foretelling ill tidings.
A terrifying force of evil.
Daemus’ recurring nightmare vision threatens to catapult him into a terrifying struggle that will leave the fate of the Keepers—and the realm—hanging in the balance. Daemus and Princess Addilyn must set out to face the menace that threatens their very existence.
Will the entire realm fall to its knees?
The Last Keeper is the first book in The Warminster Series. With gripping, epic action and heart-pounding adventure, you’ll love this new adventure series.
***Thank you to Blackthorn Book Tours and the author for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I was intrigued by this book from the very beginning. The introduction of the antagonist at the start was chilling, and I immediately knew I wanted to learn more about the history and magic of this world. The author did a fantastic job of bringing it all to life with vivid descriptions of both the horrors and beauties of the world. The use of oft-recycled fantasy races and creatures felt surprisingly fresh, and, in general, the backdrop for the story felt well-developed and immersive.
Unfortunately, the way the world-building was incorporated made large parts of the story a slog to get through. Specifically, the first half of the book was a struggle for me. It contained countless, long-winded character introductions of people that seemed to have no consequence to the story. Furthermore, the different factions and their relationships to each other were very unclear for most of the book. The plot and main characters also felt a bit aimless for the first half of the story, which made it hard to stay engaged with them. It did all come together in the end, but that wouldn’t really matter if I had decided to DNF the book at 30% because I was bored and confused.
All the negatives aside, I grew to really love the three protagonists. They were well-written, and I enjoyed seeing each of them grow so much as they faced their tragic circumstances. Daemus grew into his power. Addilyn worked through her grief and struggled to learn how to adapt to a new culture without losing the core of who she was. Ritter had to learn to play politics lightning fast while being uprooted from his home and everything he knew. The combo of Addilyn and Ritter had chemistry off the charts, as well, and I loved every scene where they were together.
Additionally, the fight and action scenes were spectacular with a gritty, pulse-pounding excitement to them. I’m also a sucker for political intrigue, and this book had a lot of it, which I enjoyed. I just wish the non-stop action and clarity of purpose seen in the second half of the book was present from the start.
Overall, this was a promising beginning to a tale of epic fantasy with excellent protagonists, gritty action, and an immersive and interesting world. I think some fans of classic epic fantasy might enjoy this series, especially if they like a lot of action, violence, and political intrigue. The first half was a bit too slow for my taste, and the world-building left me confused about the inter-relations between the different nations/factions. So, I’m going to rate this one 3 out of 5 stars with the caveat that it would be 3.5 stars if I gave half star ratings.
About the Author
Born of steel, fire and black wind, J.V. Hilliard was raised as a highlander in the foothills of a once-great mountain chain on the confluence of the three mighty rivers that forged his realm’s wealth and power for generations.
His father, a peasant twerg, toiled away in industries of honest labor and instilled in him a work ethic that would shape his destiny. His mother, a local healer, cared for his elders and his warrior uncle, who helped to raise him during his formative years. His genius brother, whose wizardly prowess allowed him to master the art of the abacus and his own quill, trained with him for battles on fields of green and sheets of ice.
Hilliard’s earliest education took place in his warrior uncle’s tower, where he recovered from grievous wounds that were suffered in a forgotten war. He learned his first words there, and his uncle, who’d sacrificed so much both for him and for others, helped him to learn the basics of life—and, most importantly, creative writing.
After years of education at the hands of the highlanders and at the great cathedral, Hilliard ventured to a place of wonderment in the capitol of all capitols, where he trained to defend his homeland and help his people.
It was then that he met his lady, a Ranger of the Diamond, and over the chords of an orchestra, he fell in love with her. Once his time serving the kings and queens of his Camelot had come to an end, he returned home to gather his own band of merry men. Together, they served the underserved—those without a voice—and rode to Camelot, fighting for those who couldn’t defend themselves.
Unfortunately, Hilliard was injured and could no longer serve the people of the highlands. It was time for him to move on from the battlefield and to take up something mightier than a sword. He lifted a pen that would scribe the tale of the realm of Warminster, filled with brave knights, harrowing adventure and legendary struggles. He returned home for the last time to the city of silver cups, hypocycloids and golden triangles. He built his castle not far into the countryside, guarded by his own two horsehounds, Thor and MacLeod.