Endless thanks to Escapist Book Tours and Jordan Loyal Short for having me on the book tour for The Skald’s Black Verse! This is the first in the Dreadbound Ode trilogy. The final book just released back in March so check it out and binge the whole thing if it sounds good to you!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: The Skald’s Black Verse
- Series: Dreadbound Ode #1
- Author: Jordan Loyal Short
- Publisher & Release: Self Published – 2018
- Length: 339 pages
- Rating & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ If you’re looking for a solid grimdark SFF trilogy
Here’s the synopsis:
Brohr needs out of his village before they put a noose around his neck.
The unwanted son of a conquering soldier, Brohr will soon discover that he is cursed, haunted, a berserker. When a strange murder sparks unrest amongst his people, Brohr becomes the prime suspect.
Hunted by invaders from another world, only the forbidden blood magic of the Skalds can save him. To survive, Brohr must unravel dire omens, uncover the truth of his brother’s death, and lead a desperate revolt against an empire that spans the heavens.
But an ancient horror lurks in the shadows, intent upon a rebellion of its own.
The Skald’s Black Verse takes a personal look at what it means to live under your oppressor’s thumb as a conquered people. It takes place in a small village on a planet that was overtaken by a superior branch of humanity. We watch as both the conquered and the conquerors deal with planetary level destruction and certain doom, and I have to say that I loved it.
There are quite a few characters but I didn’t struggle with remembering them. Brohr is dealing with a curse after his grandfather made a dark pact. Lyssa is a sneaky and resourceful bar maid, and Brasca is taking charge of the town for the Federals. Henrik stepped in later and was used to show how little control the nominal provincial leaders really had.
It’s a tough and interesting bunch of characters. I like them and will leave it at that since the biggest surprises and plot twists come in character form.
He’d been a fool to think he could manage the end of the world
Plot and action wise, the story itself was fast paced and I flew through this book. As the conflict deepened and the plot became apparent it turned into an easy two day read.
I am a lover of all things world building and this is where the book excelled. We see so much of the local food, herbs, medicine, religion, and way of life of the local Norn people. A lot of culture is revealed as the Federals tried to snuff it out in favor of cultural assimilation.
The folklore element is also strong as it ties into both the local and imposed religions. The runic binding that can fly spaceships is considered proper magic while the Skald songs are the black, illegal, blood and witchcraft type. What I wanted was more conflict between the two magics since it was one of the first things out of Brasca’s mouth. The two magics have vastly different uses although both require blood and sacrifice. The Skald Songs were well fleshed out while there’s a lot of potential for the Binders going forward in the series.
I thought that just due to the scope of the novel towards the end, I felt a disconnect between the sci-fi and dark fantasy element. More from the binding and rune lore was needed to close that gap but I think I see it coming in book two. I also don’t think Brohr was prepared to step into the role that he did at the end, considering that he was never taught the rituals.
To a man who fears death, even suffering is precious
Overall: I can definitely appreciate apocalypse and LOVED the setting and scenery, mood and atmosphere, lore and fighting spirit that kept the book feeling more congruous than not. It‘s interesting, it’s fast paced, it’s grimdark, it’s brutal, and some scenes aren’t for the fainthearted. Would recommend for fans of dark SFF!
For bonus content…
Here is the giveaway for you all!
Prize: An eBook, Audiobook, or Paperback Copy of The Skald’s Black Verse!
Starts: August 15, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: August 21, 2022 at 11:59pm EST
There’s also a tour webpage now where you can see everyone else’s content and find more info about the book!
Last but not least, meet the author and go find him online!
Jordan Loyal Short is an author of epic fantasy. His first novel, The Skald’s Black Verse, is a dark and beautiful story about families, cultures, and beliefs at war with themselves. The protagonist, Brohr, must navigate the tangled loyalties and unforgiving biases of a planet conquered by invaders from another world. Using black magic, and the bizarre bond he shares with his stillborn brother’s spirit, Brohr unravels the truth about himself and an eon spanning war that has reached its end game.
You can see Jordan’s latest book reviews at Booknesteu.com.
Jordan has worked in a variety of industries, as a web developer, bartender, copywriter and more. He lives in Washington state with his wife where he is currently daydreaming about the end of the world.
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review feature, all opinions are my own!