I’m a sucker of military fantasy. So when I saw the cover art for Covenant of Blood, I knew the kind of book I was in for. There is not an awful lot of pretence about this book; it is what it is, a large-scale plot, several key character arcs, bloody battles, magic, camaraderie and most other ingredients of the genre. Oh, and lots of the red stuff.
The prologue of this book set things up really well for me in that the relationship between the soldiers was sharp in dialogue and largely well written, with humour, tension and intrigue. What felt out of step a little was the language use. Now, I’m not one to blush at profanity in books, indeed, the use of profanity in the dialogue provided some amusing moments. However, the dialogue felt too contemporary for the setting of this book.
The world appears to be analogous to the Roman Empire, with the main characters each taking up space in a sprawling plot that ultimately treats us to a fair amount of battle, intrigue and supernatural goings on.
Whilst I ultimately enjoyed this book, the language employed in dialogue and narrative felt a bit jarring. That said, there were times when it worked well, particularly through Goraric’s arc. I found the portrayal of female characters to be an issue, with them largely being sexualised objects. In particular, how they were described both in narrative and dialogue didn’t work for me. At one point early on the narrator describes a character as ‘having tits enough for three women’. That left me scratching my head for a moment as I tried to work that one out. I settled on the character having six breasts.
The plot is sprawling, and whilst there are moments of genuine breathlessness through excellent battle scenes, equally there are ponderous moments that bog the flow down somewhat.
This book is one for fans of military fantasy, who aren’t turned off by the more graphic books.