Book Title: The Sword of Otrim – An Epic Fantasy
Author: Lyndon Perry
Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Available On: Amazon as an eBook and as a paperback
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Otrim is an experienced warrior who has pledged his loyalty to Queen Philipa and her kingdom, Idessa. Described as a barbarian, he is actually as learned with his swordsmanship as well as with his spiritual beliefs. He’s also an admired and capable leader of armies. His principles provide guidance for his actions every day and provide a roadmap to personal enlightenment.
When his queen calls him back into her service to be one of four commanders, he discovers he is to be subordinate to a mercenary the queen has hired, Ardus Atellus. Ardus will lead the regiments into battle against the Koretti infidels. But a vision warns Otrim that treachery is afoot and if he’s not careful, it could mean bad news for him and his future! Can Otrim vanquish the enemy on the battlefield and within the ranks of this massive army?
This is a fantasy novel, filled with clashing armies, massive battles, lots of swordplay, men on horseback, and strategic turnabouts. Men are disemboweled, heads are cut off and many soldiers die. It doesn’t revel in the gruesome violence it portrays but it doesn’t sanitize it either. The mortal peril our characters face feels real and knowing that death might come for them at any time filled the story with tension and excitement.
Also, there is intrigue at play here, as Ardus and Otrim are at odds at what strategy should be employed at any given time. A lesser author might make this a battle of two egos but Otrim’s spirituality guides him down a different path as he addresses the schemes he sees being perpetuated behind the scenes. His responses to them are realistic and fit into his personal code of faith and ethics. In the process of doing that, he also values fairness and justice, not sitting idly by as things happen but resolving them justly.
Some spies hide in plain sight, certain characters are trying to make selfish gains, and seers make important prophecies. All of this action and conspiracy is monumental, but it doesn’t overpower the narrative. Instead, this book is an impressive balance between grand adventure and great characterization.
Otrim is a noble man, insightful in his faith and thoughtful in his dealings with others. He’s an experienced warrior, who knows the art of warcraft as well as his faith and uses both. He is always trying to be helpful to others, especially with his quoting the Master, described as “an ancient sage come from Heaven.” He can quote from his faith without being preachy, present something as a teachable moment, and shares the perfect truism at the most opportune moments.
When he uses his faith to help guide him and his friends through difficult times, he is an inspiring teacher and a brave warrior whose insights serve him well. These ideas are seamlessly woven into the story through the lessons Otrim tries to share with his trusted comrades. This makes him an unusual protagonist but also a powerful one who can use his sword and his faith in equal and unforgettable measure.
Otrim’s lifelong friend is Mowbray, a faithful lieutenant, and fellow brother-in-arms. They’ve been through many adventures together and have each other’s backs. Paeter the Nederlander starts out at the beginning to be one thing and transforms into someone who discovers purpose under Otrim’s patient tutelage.
These two characters get a chance to shine under the author’s spotlight as the focus shifts to them for a few chapters. Together, you feel their camaraderie, companionship, and trust of one another develop into unbreakable bonds as they face the horrors of war and the dangerous, daring escapades they embark upon.
Ainya is not a damsel in distress, as a woman might be portrayed in a more stereotypical novel. Instead, she has intelligence, insight, beauty, wit, and agency. Her cunning and wily skills are well utilized, she can handle herself in a fight and her friendship is critical to Otrim’s success. She is equal to any of the warriors we meet here. While we spend plenty of time with her, I wish we got to see more of her throughout the entire novel. But the role she plays is especially important, especially in the finale.
The finale takes all the disparate plot threads woven here, as well as the story arcs of the different characters, and weaves them all into a finale that thoroughly delighted me with its twists. Then, it ties it all up in an unexpectedly surprising ending. I would look forward to more adventures in this world if the author should choose to write them.
This is not your stereotypical fantasy novel. Having read many stories by this author, I knew I was in for a terrific journey that defied the conventional storytelling that can often be found in this genre. I was correct in my assumption, as it was much more thoughtful, intelligent, and fascinating than the average tale. Each of the main characters featured here is noble, skilled, and had multifaceted inner lives that helped me understand what motivated them and gave them dimension.
The action is swift and merciless, as are the behind the scenes intrigue and politics. There were many times where I thought the story would go one away and it went into a completely different direction where I had no idea what would happen next. Together, it blends all these ideas and characters into a distinctive novel that kept me interested from beginning to end. This novel has a terrific protagonist, well-defined characters, a lot of heart, and a fast-paced plot, all brought together into one unique and satisfying story.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories by Lyndon Perry include “The Return: A Contact Window Story,” “Tule Fog Tales, Issue Two,” “The Princess and the Zombie and Other Stories“, “Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut” and “Adventures of Mazaru, The Space Monkey Pirate“.