Shields in Shadow by Andy Peloquin

Series: The Silent Champions #1 Rating: 4/5
Date of Publishing: September 4th 2019 Genre: Military fantasy
Publisher: The Fantasy Fiends publishing Available: Amazon
Number of pages: 400 Author’s website: https://andypeloquin.com/

Quote of the Book

“Skathi’s stream of fire never slackened. She moved with the precision any clockmaker would envy—drawing, nocking, pulling back, and loosing in a steady rhythm. Eirdkilrs fell in the teeth of her steel-tipped arrows. Colborn joined her before the Eirdkilrs had covered half the distance up the hill, and Noll added his arrows as well. The scout’s shorter bow lacked the range of Skathi’s, but his aim proved no less deadly. The three of them whittled down the Eirdkilr numbers at the steady pace of farmers scything wheat. Twelve barbarians fell to their feather-shafted missiles. Two more struggled at the back of the pack, arrows in their legs slowing them down.

And still the rest came on, implacable, inexorable, a wall of death racing toward the pitiful line of defenders clustered before Bjornstadt.

Fifty yards. Aravon’s gut clenched as they closed the distance. Twenty Eirdkilrs, head and shoulders taller than the men they faced, with mighty muscles and heavy weapons capable of cleaving, crushing, and eviscerating. Thirty yards. Twenty. Ten. He gripped his spear tighter. Five.”

Blurb

Burdened with legend. Hardened by battle scars. Hellbent on bloody revenge. 

As the son of a famous general, Aravon is proud to captain his own company against his people's enemy. But the experienced veteran’s march toward glory dissolves into pain as ruthless barbarians massacre every last one of his soldiers. Burning for vengeance, he leaps at the chance to spearhead a specially-trained company and pay back his tragic defeat with blood. 

Desperate to not repeat his tragic past, Aravon trains his new warriors relentlessly. But the captain fears that all the tactical drills in the world may not matter when they’re forced to defend a helpless village against overwhelming odds. As his quick raids sow chaos amongst the enemy, the bloodthirsty savages threaten to make Aravon's nightmarish history repeat itself… 

Can the captain take command of his fighting spirit before the kingdom falls to barbarous invaders?

Personal notes

Review Request –  Thank you to Andy Peloquin for the ARC!

Song of the Book

Edge of Darkness  by Greta Van Fleet

All my brothers we stand
For the peace of the land

Is there meaning?

This is old school rock in the now, stick around for the four-minute guitar solo.

Jen’s Review

Duke Dyrund has big plans – hold the line against the Eirdkilrs, drive them back across the Sawtooth Mountains and rebuild Snow Pass Keep so he can unite the Northern Clans in peace.

This plan includes a specialized team led by Captain Aravon, and a whole lot of luck.

As if I wasn’t a big enough fan of the military fantasy sub-genre as it was, all you have to do to make me even happier is add covert-team to the summary!

Meet the team – They’re asked to give up a lot – family, friends, and home, for this long-term crazy idea that the duke has to restore their country.

Captain Aravon – He spent his life living under the shadow of his famous General dad and now he will spend the rest of it living in the shadows.

Snarl – The Enfield – A fox type creature with wings. He’s Aravon’s companion but the little Enfield has taken a liking to Skathi.

Draian – The Mender. His order is of healing but they also have a sect of fighters.

Zaharis – The Secret Keeper and Alchemist communicates only through hand signals. His order is all about keeping their knowledge to themselves. He was my favorite character and I loved every moment he was on-screen. (I can call it that right, since it’s an ebook?)

Lt Colborn – The half Fehlen. Capable and observant.

Belthar – The giant of a man is head over heels in love with Skathi and is going to get himself killed trying to protect her in battle, and it may not be from the enemy’s blade.

Noll – The scout is an angry and an annoying little mouthpiece who sometimes realizes he’s being an idiot but it takes a while. (I wasn’t too impressed with him, can you tell? Nothing pleased me more than the beating down he got from a certain redhead.)

Skathi – The prickly pear of an archer, can take care of herself just fine, thank you very much, and doesn’t need some man coming to her rescue, especially not that giant of a man Belthar.

There are enough character moments to get a good idea of the team and personalities and a few little tidbits to keep us wanting to know more about them as individuals. With this kind of set-up, I feel like there will be lots of opportunities for character insights as the series grows.

I really liked the addition of that final team member at the end of the book. It was someone whom I enjoyed their appearances throughout the story, and they fill in that gap left with the absence of the one character.

***

Being the first in a series there is a bit of overall setting-up between introducing us to the team and their efficacies, a feel for the world and politics, enemies old and new and the battles. It’s really well-paced and you can tell this isn’t this author first rodeo because all that was so smoothly wound together.

The plot is a pretty straight-forward team story with lots of room for a series of books, hopefully involving more covert-type action – which there was surprisingly little of in this for a specialized team story.

The fights and battles are fast-paced, with no sparing you the brutality and bloodshed, with enough stratagem in them to make them fun to see if the plan is going to come together. I also liked the whole Blodhundr’s the unique force in the Eirdkilhrs angle – seems the Duke wasn’t the only one thinking ahead and boy are those guys nasty pieces of work.

***

Shields in Shadow was an exciting popcorn read – thriller-type pacing, good gory battles, and some fun characters to root for. All in all it looks to be a great start to a series that is worth keeping an eye on.

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