The Ragged Blade by Christopher Ruz

Series: Century of Sand #1 Rating: 3.5/5
Date of Publishing: June 4th 2019 Genre: fantasy, epic fantasy
Publisher: Parvus Press LLC Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 374 Author’s website: https://www.christopher-ruz.com/

Quote of the Book

He saw, only ten paces away, the Culling jump at Ana with jaws open wide, spit running over its lips. It hit Ana in the chest and she fell beneath its weight, her dagger spinning away, shimmering in the moonlight.

Suddenly there was new strength in Richard’s limbs. He found his sword amongst the pebbles and crawled towards the Culling, shrieking, spitting, ready to sink his blade into its rotten yellow eyes.

The Culling lapped at Ana’s face with its long, black tongue.

Above them all, stone shifted. A twist of granite. Rock ground against rock.

 The figurehead turned in a series of puppet jerks and opened her mouth.

The Lady in the lake breathed out the sun, so bright and pure it burned the back of Richard’s skull. He covered his face with his hands. A scream rose nearby—not Ana, no, he knew what she sounded like when she was panicked. This was the Culling. Not a dog’s howl, but a human voice, knotted and ugly with pain.

Then, silence.

Blurb

As a young mercenary, Richard followed a mysterious Magician on a quest to steal a demon's treasure and overthrow a king. The two men started their journey as strangers, became lovers along the way, and ended as master and loyal soldier. 

Twenty years later, that kingdom is steadily falling into ruin and Richard has realized that time and power have twisted the Magician into more monster than man – children disappear nightly into his dungeons and the only things that leave are terrible creatures crafted in the shadows. 

To save his own daughter, Richard flees into the wastes where magic boils beneath the sand and monsters walk the dunes in the shape of men. He will return to the burning heart of the desert and restore the demon's treasure, or die in the trying. 

What Richard doesn't know is that Ana is the key to the Magician's plans and he and his favorite monster will lay waste to the world to get her back.

 

Personal notes

Thank you to Netgalley, Parvus Press and the author Christopher Ruz for a copy for review.

 

Song of the Book

Falls on Me by Fuel

“The light you bring

 Falls on me it falls on me”

Review

This one was an assorted bag of fabulous, and some odd, not quite sure how I feel about it stuff. It’s a slow building world that relies on the MC Richard, to tell the story through a combination of flashbacks – partly through sharing stories with his daughter Ana (who is mute for the most part), combined with present day events. Because I had mixed feelings towards Richard – he’s rather odd at times in his abruptness – it took me a good quarter of the book to warm to him and his story.

Richard hopes to return the heart to a Demon, in hopes of passage across the desert to freedom and safety from the Magician (his Master and at one time lover) whom had been holding his daughter in the dungeons, for a purpose that is not clear until practically the end of the book (so I won’t spoil).

***

I found the relationship between Richard and Ana a bit strange at first, making it a small stumbling block in the story. He was so touchy/tender towards her which was so weirdly awkward to me, especially because up until her rescue he had never set eyes upon her before or at least since she was born. But this awkwardness did work in some ways to show how much of an adjustment this was for Ricard as well – leaving me not sure where I stand on the whole thing.

I think, I just needed something outside of the we are blood and I loved your mother and your mother loved you, type of bond which seems a somewhat flimsy connection for the tenderness that was displayed – I admit to not being a touchy feely type of person either so that may have held sway, so take this criticism with a grain of salt.
Their weird vibe did improve for me though as the story progressed. As Ana had noticeable growth in affection towards her dad and more initiative in the story it lost some of that awkwardness that I was feeling at the beginning.

The Kabbah was a nice addition, interesting in his views and also gave us the odd small dose of humor to break the darkness.

I would have liked to know more about Richard and The Magician’s working and personal relationship. He held so much influence over Richard I was curious to know when and how Richard began to change his views towards him, and see he wasn’t all that he thought, etc.

***

The world felt unique and imaginative, alive with people, religion, and dangerous creatures. The atmosphere is just thick with apprehension. I liked it a lot. The uneasiness builds as the story unfolds and because Richard is the source of our information and he was so pushed to the edge throughout, it leaves us feeling unsettled while we patiently wait for him to continue his story, wondering how he came to this point. I liked the backstory the best, so the waiting was hard.

I enjoyed the style of the writing. The sometimes-abrupt sentences had some lovely turns of phrase, a few of which, the impact in their placements burned an afterimage in my mind. There was obvious thought put into the prose and occasionally, I would go back and reread the events leading up to certain lines just because they were so effective. I probably highlighted dozens of scenes, and spent more time than necessary trying to choose a quote to showcase this without spoilers but the beauty of it is not quite the same when you aren’t immersed in the world.

 

Other Notes

  • A few times the switch from retelling the story to Ana to the actual being in the now of the story, was so sudden that I’d have to backtrack especially with Richard being the subject of the tale, and weaving the past/present thoughts into the now. It did give it this dream-like quality which added to the uneasy atmosphere.
  • Cool as hell imagery, especially at the petrified ship and at the needle looking for acceptance by the God.

A very memorable world and story that has been haunting my head for days. I’m pretty curious to see where this story goes from here.

 

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