It’s nearly the end of GrimDarkTober and I want to talk about the last book I finished this month! The Sword of Mercy and Wrath is a dark fantasy book with werewolves, their hunters, a twisted trope of adopted sibling rivalry, set in a world of territory conflict and war.
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: The Sword of Mercy and Wrath
- Series: The Swords of Dominion, #1
- Author: N.C. Koussis
- Publisher & Release: Self, September 2022
- Length: 267 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ for fans of dark fantasy and action
***See note on the synopsis at the end
This is an exceptionally addictive read. For such a short novel, N.C. Koussis packs nonstop action and character development from start to finish to create a fast paced read that is hard to put down.
The two main points of view are Tristain, off to war as a knight’s squire in hopes of making a name for himself and getting his adopted sister and mother away from their abusive father back home. The other is Selene, the sister, attacked by a werewolf and in turn sets off with a dashing inquisitor to become a hunter of those monsters.
I think the Selene character stole the spotlight from Tristain and ran with it. I enjoyed both viewpoints but her character arc was the best part of the book for me. An interesting look at how grief and revenge can cause a loss of identity as Selene shucks off her last to become a remorseless werewolf hunter for the religious order. The training was brutal and dark and everything I’d expect from an order that targets those with hurt in their heart and no where else to turn. Then the question becomes – can Selene find herself again?
Tristain took a bit of a different arc and showed us the life of the army, the depths of betrayal in the novel, and that monsters can take many shapes and forms.
I liked how both characters, and most of the side characters, were in the moral grayzone. They had faults, they were ravaged from war and hardship and grieving, making mistakes and learning from them. The book was pretty dark though the middle to end but managed to keep up a thread of hope that I don’t see in a lot of Grimdark anymore. The end was… Uh… Well, I’d like a sequel, let’s put it that way. (My heart didn’t need a hug at all before the epilogue).
While I did truly enjoy the book, the action, the battles, the military strategy, the violence that all makes up a solid dark fantasy, one can guess by the length that there might not have been a ton of world building. I am a world building fanatic and (while I 100% recommend the book for fans of fast paced action packed reads), I really wanted some more background and development for the world, the characters, the political conflicts, maybe some more history, just those little things that flesh out fantasy worlds. I know that’s not necessity what the author set out to do but I think it would have helped without slowing things down too much.
That said though, the action and moral conflicts and characters more than carried this book! I am now patiently waiting for the next installment👻
I didn’t include a synopsis because I think it reflects an earlier version of the text that isn’t quite accurate.