Thursday, February 28, 2019

Review: The Blighted City by Scott Kaelen

The Blighted City (The Fractured Tapestry)
The Blighted City by Scott Kaelen
Self-Published, 2018
Ebook. 394 pages.

About The Blighted City:

"'To challenge the gods is to invite their wrath. So it is written of Lachyla, the Blighted City, in the Codex of the Ages. But who reads codices? And who really believes the tall stories of the Taleweavers? 

Dagra does. If it’s a story about the gods – even a dead god – he believes every word. When his sellsword team is offered a contract to cross the Deadlands and find a burial jewel in the crypts of the Blighted City, Dagra wants no part of it. His companions are undaunted by the legend; to them, the blurred divide between the living and the dead is superstitious nonsense. Completing the contract would earn their guild’s failing reputation a much-needed boost and secure them the bounty of a lifetime. They’re going, with or without him. Torn between the convictions of his beliefs and the importance of his friendships, Dagra reluctantly journeys into the godless region in search of the fabled city. But the Deadlands are only the first challenge. 

The sellswords uncover an age-old deception when they learn that Lachyla’s foul seed is much darker than its legend, that its truth must forever remain untold or risk plunging humanity into an eternal nightmare. Snagged on the barbs of the blight, Dagra faces the toughest choice of his life … and of his death."

The Blighted City is an ambitious dark fantasy that mixes a variety of different fantastic elements to create a unique and engaging story. It's also yet another fantastic self-published fantasy that also made it to the semi-finals of Mark Lawrence's SPFBO4, a well-earned spot.

The Blighted City has a few different storylines to follow over the course of the book, all of which I found equally interesting. The story starts out with a bit of a semi-traditional fantasy quest plot, a trope that I am always eager to read and therefore found myself enjoying right away. A group of mercenaries are hired to carry out this quest that involves journeying to an abandoned and rather haunted city that promises nothing positive and is instead often avoided by people at all costs. I loved the idea of the city and loved the anticipation for what they would find during their quest. I thought that the quest itself would end up being the main focus of the book, but instead there were a few other large components to the plot as well.

In addition to the mercenary group, the story also follows some hunters who are attempting to find the mercenary group for less than friendly reasons and later a group that is essentially trying to locate and rescue the initial group that set out for the city. There's a lot to explore within each group of characters, each of which added their own intrigue and excitement to the story. I liked seeing the different relationship dynamics between each character and how it all worked out throughout the events of the book. That being said, this creates of large array of POVs that the book switches between as a result of the large cast of characters which were occasionally slightly overwhelming. Still, it was a nice touch to have so many different firsthand experiences of different plot elements to explore. 

The pacing of The Blighted City was a bit uneven throughout, as it felt much slower and almost meandering at times, while others were much more action-heavy and fast-paced. The first portion of the book starts out with a steady pace, but does slow down quite a bit at times, which is initally why I thought it would be a larger section of the book. However, despite the uneven pacing, I didn't really find it bothered me all that much overall because I never lost interest in the story itself. It does lead to a bit of a varied experience while reading that I can see bothering some readers, but in my personal experience it doesn't hinder much of the enjoyment.

I also really enjoyed the world-building of The Blighted City. Kaelen did a great job at creating his world slowly and expanding it as the story demanded without ever info-dumping. Similarly, I also never felt lost in this world--Kaelen always provided adequate information in order to understand and appreciate each part of the story, which is something that I really appreciate in a fantasy novel.

Overall, I've given The Blighted City four stars! It's full of adventure, treasure hunts, fights, some creepy crypts and other unexpected surprises. I recommend this to any dark fantasy fans who are looking for something with a lot of intrigue and some unique concepts.

*I received a copy of The Blighted City courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Buy the book: Amazon

1 comment:

  1. I hate when books are slow. I understand there needs to be a build up. But come on. Glad it was good otherwise though. That cover is stunning.

    Ash @ JennRenee Read