A Fitting Entry to a New World

Blood Fiends’ Bane by William Stacey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Convicted of a violent crime Owen Toscovar is sentenced to serve the Noble Dain family. He longs for the time he is free to adventure and soon fate hands him his opportunity. When the Duke, Oskaley Dain dies, he admits that he did not slay did not kill the Vampire Queen Selina as everyone has believed for the past 50 years. The truth was that he ran, leaving the mythical sword Sight-bringer buried under a cave-in, not destroyed as he had previously claimed. Soon, Owen will accompany the new Dain Lord and his sister to recover the sword. Predictably, nothing goes as planned and Owen must somehow protect the Dain bloodline from an unholy evil because if he fails, everyone he loves will die.

First of all, this is definitely a dark adult fantasy with loads of violence and sexual situations. One might expect this from a vampire tale but this is not your typical vampire story. In fact, there seems to be some confusion as to just what it is. Is it fantasy, heroic adventure, dark romance, paranormal romance or suspense? It has elements of all and can’t quite seem to make up its’ mind, coming across as a sort of cross between “The Vikings”, “Game of Thrones” and “True Blood”. To further compound the confusing nature of the story, it is told by multiple characters switching viewpoints with each chapter.

This is a complicated storyline and it requires a little effort to get into it. The opening is very slow. This is presumably because the author wants to give the reader time to become familiar with the characters and setting before moving the story along. I’m not so sure that works. The pairing of a complicated story with a slow opening no doubt loses some readers who are unwilling to invest the effort. Too bad, because once it does get rolling the reader finds themselves in a fully fleshed world dealing with characters they care about.

Other than what I have previously stated, I have few criticisms. The main characters are fully realized and the world building is excellent. But the cast of characters is large and there are some who don’t really seem to have a place in the story. I presume they will appear in subsequent books. The storyline is a compelling one with lots of action, rivalry, vampires, Vikings, knights, heroes, magic and some romance. Mechanically, the book is sound with few spelling or punctuation errors. There is some incidence of repeated phrasing but not enough to throw the reader “out of the book”.

While there is no cliff-hanger as such, the rather sudden conclusion screams for a sequel. Overall, I gave it three and one-half stars. The genre-bending nature of the story was a little off-putting for me, but I eagerly wait for the next book in the series. I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by the Reading Deals Review Club so I could give an honest review.

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