Spolier Free Summary: The Heresy Within by Rob J. Hayes is a the first book in The Ties that Bind series. A knife for hire, a female blade master, and an Arbiter (religious traveling wizard), collide while pursing parallel paths to a common goal. Two of them hate each other. Two of them are attracted to each other. The rest of the world wants them all dead. Their common enemy is someone who’s learned the dark secret of where the arbiters gain their powers, and why they have to guard that secret so closely. This was my July 2017 Book Cover of the Month winner.
(CONTENT WARNING: This is dark, graphic and sexually explicit. Only for adults.)
Character: In a story about a group of antiheroes, the trick is to give each of them a degree of sympathy. I think the arbiter (Thanquil) and the knife for hire (The Black Thorn) are fascinating character studies. Their flaws are real, and Thanquil’s core desire is admirable even if his job forces him into so brutal situations. I wasn’t such a fan of Jezzet, as her character seems oddly submissive for a blademaster, but I can say that submissiveness is a character arc she works with, so while I wasn’t a huge fan, I at least understood it was intentional. This story bounced around with these characters quite a bit, and that got confusing and frustrating in the early chapters. However, once I had everyone figured out, I could follow the story and connect better with each character. I’ve encountered this same problem in my writing, but I feel both I and Hayes made the right choice. The cost of confusion is worth the reward of sympathetic characters.
Description: Having been as long as it’s been since I read it (May 23), I remember less about it than I’d like. The good news is I remember I didn’t feel overly burdened with minute details (something I don’t appreciate about some fantasy). What I do remember is actually wanting a bit more detail here or there. Not another 100,000 words of detail, just a bit more here and there. For instance The Black Thorn is burned, but I don’t remember much detail about the burns. It sort of reminds me of what people tell me is the blemish on Samantha’s face in Ready Player One which turned out to be quite minimized in the movie (I still liked the movie for the record). What I mean is I know he’s burned, but I’m not really sure how badly. Those little details are things I think I would have liked.
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