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The 19th Bladesman


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Storytelling that wraps the reader into the sordid and the sensual of a gut-wrenching world filled with magical intrigue.

An epic fantasy of prophecies and fate, The 19th Bladesman by S.J. Hartland is a tale of a many characters. Hartland does an excellent job of moving the story along, jumping from one character to the next to weave the many threads of intrigue centering around the bonded warrior, Kaell. The young warrior has spent his life training under the tutelage of expert swordsman, Val Arques, who himself has a dark secret. The relationship between these two is complicated but beautiful, well written with deeply human emotions.

But neither one of them is so much human, flawed as they are, their fated paths are long and filled with trials. Slowly the complications of the fates, the whims of the gods, are revealed in a dance of characters, chapter after chapter. The intriguingly complex world is not unveiled immediately; you’ll have to work for it. While names can be a bit confusing, similar as they are through generations of kings, this is not anything new to fantasy readers and should be easy enough to get a handle on in time. Following Kaell on his missions, his parrying and feints, dodges and near death experiences, as he speeds forward toward an inevitable fate is heartbreaking.

All the while, the rest of the world is heading toward chaos. Kingdoms will collide, the lives of men put at risk for foolish, imperceptible wrongs that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Ghouls, beautiful human creatures with speed and strength that mimic vampires more than an evil spirit, haunt the hills. But they’ve been extending their reach of late, all in the search for one person, the 19th bonded warrior of Khir. While silly kings prepare for war, they have no idea about the true enemy, preparing to storm their gates.

With Kaell, one ancient god will be released from his prison, and the beliefs of men will be tested. Excitedly, this is only the first book in a series. The writing is exemplary, engrossing and emotive. All the characters have reasons to act as they do, even, and especially, the ‘villain.’ Fans of The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks, or The First Law novels created by Joe Abercrombie should add the embroiled and battle weary world of the Shadow Sword novels by S.J. Hartland to their shelves. Hartland’s storytelling wraps the reader into the sordid, the sensual, and the gut-wrenching world of The 19th Bladesman. 

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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.


About the author

S.J. Hartland is an emerging fantasy writer from the Darling Downs, Australia. She is a journalist and fencer who has spent too many holidays roaming around remote castles. The 19th Bladesman was her first published book, followed by The Last Seer King and The Sword Brotherhood (May, 2020). view profile

Published on November 26, 2018

Published by

150000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Epic Fantasy

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