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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
The Last Seer King is book two in the Shadow Sword series by S.J. Hartland, a well-plotted and wonderfully written epic fantasy with characters and worlds that transport readers. In a realm that is fast heading towards annihilation, heroes and brave warriors fight to restore the realm to its former glory. There is only one way for Roaran to beat the tyrant and it’s very painful, but will he tread the path he swore he never would and find redemption in doing what is right? Once a dangerous man and a slaver, Dannon is heeding a new call, one that compels him to change his old ways and embrace a new path. Val Arques is a powerful warrior, but he is in chains and all he yearns for is to find Kaell, but he only has one small opportunity to escape. Can he succeed?
A tale filled with action, dark magic, and powerful heroes fighting deadly enemies, The Last Seer King is replete with suspense and told in a style that is atmospheric, in prose that is delightful, and with characters that are real and compelling. What grabbed my attention as I opened the book was the author’s prose. It is filled with vivid descriptions and strong imagery. For instance, the description of Kaell caught up between the twilight zone of death and wakefulness is appealing to the senses: “But familiar sensations poured into him. Groping hands that pulled him towards wakefulness. The aroma of candlewax. The sight of dawn’s pink flush beyond a window. Cloth rubbing his skin. Even the weight of his head on a downy pillow.” The beauty of the language is one of the elements that set this narrative apart, both highly descriptive and insightful with poetic lines like “the silence sank into him, a beast of a thing that pawed his neck with unease as the clanging, pealing iron and the screams of men ebbed away.”
S.J. Hartland has a strong gift for plot and the shifts in points of view create suspense that gets the reader racing through the pages, always looking forward to what happens to the characters. The subplots are used to reinforce the suspense and sustain the reader’s interest in the story. This is a series I’d love to watch on screen. It is delightful and utterly gripping, with strong plot points and elaborately developed characters.