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Scourge of the Betrayer (Bloodsounder's Arc) Hardcover – May 1, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Bloodsounder's Arc Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Scourge of the Betrayer is as harsh and profane as anything Richard K. Morgan or Joe Abercrombie serves up. Fortunately, Saylards has the skills - and the humor - to pull it off. Snappy dialogue, political intrigue, shady characters, gripping action sequences, a poor guy that has no idea what he's gotten himself into... Yeah, there's a lot to like about this debut."  --David Anthony Durham, author of The Acacia Trilogy.

"Scourge of the Betrayer is a fascinatingly lateral take on quest fantasy. The strangely flawed Captain Killcoin and the curiously naive scribe Arkamondos intersect in unusual and interesting ways as they deal with politics, combat, and a peculiar costly form of magic. A gripping read, this is a fine opening to a series I'm looking forward to continuing to enjoy."  --Jay Lake, author of Mainspring and Green

"Gritty, gripping, and layered with surprises."  --Howard A. Jones, author of The Waters of Eternity

"I've long been a great fan of novels that play and experiment with the standards of fantasy, and Scourge of the Betrayer comes as no exception. Salyards not only executes the tropes of the genre skillfully, but he knows just when and how to surprise the reader by veering AWAY from any expectations we might be developing. Readers of traditional fantasy and sword-and-sorcery definitely should give this one a look; I'm impatient for a sequel already, myself." --Ari Marmell, author of The Conqueror's Shadow and The Goblin Corps

"A tale of terror and bloodshed, set on a fascinating world, told by an interesting narrator. What more could you want?" -- Mike Resnick, Hugo and Nebula award winning author.

"[A] fascinatingly lateral take on quest fantasy. A gripping read, this is a fine opening to a series I'm looking forward to continuing to enjoy."
― Jay Lake, author of Mainspring and Green

About the Author

Jeff Salyardsgrew up in a small town north of Chicago. While it wasn't Mayberry, it was quiet and sleepy, so he got started early imagining his way into other worlds that were loud, chaotic, and full of irrepressible characters. While he ultimately moved away, he never lost his fascination for the fantastic. Though his tastes have grown a bit darker and more mature over the years. Jeff lives near Chicago with his wife and three daughters. By day, he is a book editor for the American Bar Association; by night, he will continue to crank out novels as long as there are readers willing to read them.

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Product Details

  • Series: Bloodsounder's Arc (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books; First Edition edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597804061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597804066
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nickolas X. P. Sharps VINE VOICE on June 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Sword & Sorcery sub-genre is currently the most important facet of my reading life. This is the sub-genre that got me back into fantasy after a five year hiatus where I read nothing but science fiction. With that in mind, I take the authors and novels of this genre very, very seriously. At first glance SCOURGE OF THE BETRAYER by Jeff Salyards failed to catch my eye. I didn't find the cover immensely appealing (don't give me that look, we all judge books by their cover) and the synopsis sounded like somewhat standard fantasy fare. At second glance, however, one might notice a quote by an esteemed fantasy author, comparing this novel to the works of Joe Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan. Name dropping of that caliber is the surest way to stroke my curiosity.

With this single blurb SCOURGE OF THE BETRAYER had been elevated to Must Read status. This quote has also set the bar almost impossibly high for poor Mr Salyards. Abercrombie and Morgan? Yeah, good luck buddy! Oh, wait...

Small town scribe Arkamondos finds himself in way over his head when he accepts a commission from the enigmatic Captain Braylar Killcoin and his rugged band of Syldoon warriors. As the company of battle hardened killers embarks on a secretive mission at the behest of the Empire, Arki discovers there are far worse things in life than the mundane histories of millers and merchants...

Enter Arkamondos the scribe, more commonly known as Arki. The tale is told from Arki's first person perspective, putting a less world weary and more naive narrative to the adventures of bunch of professional soldiers. This is the first wise move on Salyards' part. I've read plenty of books about bloody-minded anti-heroes, but few from the point of view of an inexperienced bystander.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read many novels by new writers of late, and this just doesn't quite measure up to the rest. I'm not sure why so many of the reviewers have given it 5 stars. The overall 4.5 stars is significantly skewed the wrong direction. I give it a 3 because I hope the next book makes this one better. As a stand alone novel, it would be much less.

After finishing the book, the only thing I could think of was where is the rest of it. Very little was revealed by the end. I won't give any spoilers away, but because the main character (the scribe Arki) is not privy to the groups secrets, neither is the reader. The other members of the small group repeatedly say, you really haven't told him much have you? Well the reader by the end doesn't know much either. Small events happen throughout the book, but there is no overarching story that is wrapped up. It feels like the book had the last half just chopped off.

I understand the book is meant to be the first in a series, but at this point, I don't know enough to know if I want to read the sequel. What we are given is very well written, and I think I might like the series, but there was very little substance to the current story. The characters are interesting, at least what we know of them. Having everything delivered from the point of view of a noncombatant is different. I thought I would like the concept, but I think it's the reason the book fell short. It severely limited the reader's knowledge of the bigger picture.

Some of the last few lines explain it all:

"there is nothing large or grand in the things happening here. [...] They are small and shadowy. [...] unknown to all but a few key players."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Seemed like there was some potential early on but the story never quite reached it. The book is very short and unfortunately nothing really seems to happen. You can basically break the book up into a few big parts. The first 25% of the book takes place in an inn, the next 30% is the grass plains, and the remaining pages are the major fight scene. I understand trying to lure the reader in by passing along info in a piecemeal fashion can be an excellent writing tool, but I didn't have any idea what the point of the story was half way through the book. On the plus side there are very few editing errors and actual writing is quite good. What little we get of the characters is fairly interesting, but unfortunately the plot needs some serious work. I'd pass on this one until the price drops down to a dollar or two.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first book in the Bloodsounder's Arc series. This is a military fantasy set in a medieval like setting. It was well-written but I had some trouble connecting with the main character.

Arkamondos, Arki, is a bookish young scribe and archivist who is offered a job by the feared Syldoon Captain Braylar Killcoin. By edict of the Empire the Syldoon parties must have a scribe along to record their activities. Arki accepts the job and finds himself drawn into a world of murder, politics, and adventure like he's never seen before.

This is a well written fantasy set in a medieval like time frame and land. The story starts slowly and follows Syldoon soldiers as they try to politically shake up a region. The reader is thrown right into the world and is left to struggle to piece together what is going on, just like Arki is.

We hear most of the story from the archivist's (Arki's) point of view. Arki is very sheltered and untried. He has a bitter history, but finds out that his history is nothing compared to the horrors these Syldoon soldiers have faced. Arki is a bit hard to like and relate to; he is just so naive and so tentative at times. It is interesting to watch how he changes throughout the story though.

The most interesting character in the book is Braylar Killcoin who is a mysterious character with many secrets that are slowly revealed as the story progresses. One of Braylar's most interesting aspects are the mysterious weapons he fights with that seem tied to his very soul. Braylar is moody and adds a lot of sarcastic humor to the story; he is by far the most interesting character here.

All of the other characters are well done and have interesting backgrounds too.
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