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Shield Of The Heart

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Worth reading 😎

Shield of the Heart would be like if the Avengers were a kind of monastic order.

Ancient orders and endless war create adventurous intrigue in James M R Ocean's Shield of the Heart


James M R Ocean's novel dives into historical fantasy, capitalizing on a none to often visited subject; war. In contrast, most historical fantasy deals in the victorian or gaslight era, Shield of the Heart embraces a more modern, adventurous, and dangerous time. 


Pepper is a Private in the Great War, fighting in the trenches, the real muck and mire. The story's gut and grime is immediately set from the moment the first words are read, when opposing factions meet. The hard-fought battle nearly costs Pepper his life, when who should appear but a shield-wielding knight with immense strength. 


Suddenly, Pepper finds himself working for the Order, entrenched now in a more decadent, more ancient battle. The characters are all likable, though sometimes feel a little unfinished. Pepper has some quirks that sometimes make him unappealing, like a wet noodle, but this only illustrates his character arc. 


Ocean executes dynamic, pristine fight scenes, leaving no room for confusion during each melee. Perhaps most intriguing of all is the undercurrent that the Order is a morally grey group. It makes perfect sense, and Shield of the Heart would have suffered had the Order been a holier than thou group. 


Instead, and realistically, there is often a confusion of right and wrong, good and evil, black and white. Sometimes bad things, bad people, must be done or used to correct the world's overall darkness. While a classic trope, it is uniquely illuminated in Ocean's choice of plot, era, and environment.


The struggle between the highest evil is the overall goal, but there are many intricacies to an organization and its people. Shield of the Heart would be like if the Avengers were a kind of monastic order.

Reviewed by

A sometimes kind, sometimes evil hedgewitch on a crusade to create as many fantastical worlds and read as many stupendous adventures as I can. Currently living with three loyal hounds, an impartial cat, and my very own vampire husband.

1936 Frontline France

About the author

Physical Labour by day, mental exhaustion by night. That's how my weeks and months roll on by. view profile

Published on October 16, 2020

80000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Fantasy

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