Action, political intrigue, blood and gore—all the things that make a Sword & Sorcery tale worth reading—Against the Drimlith has all that and more. Christopher Heath weaves a fine tale of magic and swordplay, with full three-dimensional characters that you will come to love. Even the main villain is sympathetic as opposed to some cardboard cutout.
Sir Vaiden Erro is a Malkan Knight, an order of sorcerer-knights sworn to the defense of Calantia and it’s bureaucratic government’s ever expanding mandates. He and his fellow Malkan Knight, Alix, must seek out and destroy the headquarters of the Drimlith Cabal who are recently responsible for the assassination of a prominent politician. Their mandate eventually takes them to the Bludlands, a bloodthirsty nation that reveres Bakal, God of the Undead. Each knight carries with him his own personal losses, which they must come to grips with if they are to succeed.
With Azieran, Heath has created a fantasy world rich and detailed, one that is dark where life tends to be short and brutal. While you’ll find many of the classic (some would call clichèd) tropes, he brings his own unique twist to the common fare by making even the monsters more than just stereotypes. In one scene, you actually start feeling bad for the orcs.
I detected a few typos and at least a couple minor formatting mistakes, but overall everything was well edited. The PDF sent to me was likely an “ARC” version, so I’ll assume those mistakes will already have been fixed in the final copy. None of the mistakes, however, are bad enough to prevent reading enjoyment. On one occasion I got lost on who was speaking, but I was half asleep at the time.
The “Epilogue” is literally a separate, but connected, story involving two completely different characters. It even comes with it’s own title: “The Searcher From Tal’El’Orm.” I won’t say anything about that part of the ebook, because I don’t want to risk revealing spoilers. So I’ll leave my comment to that part as: read it, you’ll love it.
If I bothered with a rating system, I would give this ebook a 6/10 only because of the editing mistakes. A finished copy with those mistakes fixed, however, would get at least an 7 if not a 8 or 9. But I hate using abstract numbers. It just feels weird trying to use a mathematical system on something that’s subjective.
So how’s this? It’s well worth reading despite the minor flaws.
Addendum: I just received a finished copy, and all the mistakes in the ARC have been cleaned up; therefore, my rating becomes 8/10
Best read while listening to: the soundtrack to Excalibur. Also “Duel of Fate” (from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) is perfect for the climactic fight at the end. Anything involving death metal is great for the epilogue, or any Midnight Syndicate album.