By: Mark Timmony
Genre: Epic Fantasy
CONTENT WARNING: Substance Abuse (mentioned), Bullying, Gore, Violence, Human trafficking
Blood of the Spear is an excellent epic fantasy debut novel from Mark Timmony. He has all the ingredients: well-developed characters, excellent world building, different magic systems and plenty of action. Mix them all together, and Blood of the Spear is everything this reader wants in epic fantasy.
The story follows the adventures of several characters, but the main protagonists are two half-brothers, Kaiel and Darien Toranth. When Kaiel fails the test to become Daemon Hunter, he vows to join the Bronze Guard. He would then be able to go with and protect his brother Darien. Darien is determined to go to The Palace of the Eye and become a Ciralys, a trained mage. Darien is gifted with magic, called Asai, but does not yet know how to fully wield it. Darien is a warrior, but is very protective of his brother, the only family he has left. The journey begins as Kaiel, Darien, Simeon (Sim), a ranger and Kaeil’s best friend, Jaric, Captain of the Rangers, Sevaani and Meg set out as part of the protection of Prince as he travels to another city. Darien, his mentor Telaq, Kaiel, Sim, Sevaani and Meg will then go to the The Palace of the Eye for Darien to be accepted to train. On the journey that takes them through catacombs, they encounter a hoard of daemons. As they fight to protect Prince Alesandr, Kaiel picks up an old, rusty spear. However, in his hands, it changes to powerful, deadly spear, the Bronze Spear, easily capable of killing the daemons. Why has it changed and why is it that only he can wield it? What are the implications? Those who can call forth deamons from beyond the veil are marked and killed at birth, although this mark has not been found in thousands of years. Does Kaiel bear this mark? Does Darien? After this incident, they are thought to part of a long-gone family line that called daemons. What happened had frightened Kaiel and he questions his heritage. It is then Kaiel and his brother are held captive by the prince, but rescued by Jaric. And so, the adventure begins.
As a debut novel, Blood of the Spear, is a spot-on epic fantasy. The pacing is excellent. The action was spread evenly throughout, and it was page turning action right from the first chapter. There are no lagging parts where that seem like plot “filler”. When there is no action, the focus becomes the development of the characters, which is essential to any story. This makes for well developed, 3-dimensional characters the reader cares about. We also see what I read as LGBTQIA+ representation. Mr. Timmony also writes excellent, well thought out action scenes. From Kaiel’s trial to become a daemon hunter, the battle in the catacombs, the escape from Prince Alesandr and the travel across many realms, they keep the reader engaged and wanting more. The prose was excellent, all told from the third person narrative. Chapters often focus on one character, but it is never confusing. It gives the reader a glimpse into each character’s personality and what they are thinking. Chapters often left off on great cliffhangers, which is something I really love-those surprise twists at the end.
The characters were fully developed. Kaiel is a trained warrior, with strong moral character. He feels a sense of duty to protect his brother, not wanting to let him go off on his own to become a Ciralys. He is unwilling to let go. He doubts who he is when he is able to hold and wield the Bronze Spear. Kaiel is relatable, as all of have self-doubt. We also feel a sense of protectiveness towards our family members. Kaeil is also in a relationship with Sevaani. While she comes on the journey partly because of Meg, her best friend, and to be with Kaeil, she also has a gift she wants to understand. The development of their relationship over the course of this journey is quite interesting. I will not write more, as I write spoiler-free reviews.
Darien is young, and at times, head strong. He and Meg are friends, which is one reason she came, but she also has feelings for Darien. Despite the danger of them being pursued, he is still adamant about pursing his dream to become a Ciralys. As the younger brother, he is often jealous of his brother. It becomes all-consuming intense at times. This intensity prevents it from becoming the “younger jealous brother trope”. Darien is not in a relationship and clearly stated he was not interested in women. I felt this was a good representation of LGBTQIA+ characters. I will say it was clear that Darien said he was not interested in women, and I felt the implication was that he was interested in men. It could very well also mean that he did not want any relationship, but Darien never indicates this. While Darien is not a warrior, he is not afraid of facing danger. He does know his limits. If Darien cannot help in a situation, he knows he should not interfere. I think that is part of being brave. He is quite an interesting character.
What can I say about Simeon (Sim)? He’s such a great character. Sim is a trained ranger, an expert marksman with bow, but has no qualms admitting that it is not what he wants to do. He wants a quiet life away from danger. Sim has a sharp wit and is always quick with a come-back line. In the fight in the catacombs, he is not in the fray fighting alongside the Rangers. He stays in the back to “protect” Meg, Savanni and Darien. He definitely will take the easy way out if he can. While the warrior life is not for him, he does follow Kaeil, and is loyal and will help protect the troupe as they journey to Serat. He really breaks the mold of books where the friends of the main protagonist are eager fighters and will run into battle.
Meg is a witch. She has trained with Shany, a powerful witch where she grew up. Darien trained with her as well before deciding to become a Ciralys. She has feelings for Darien, but again, he made it clear he is not interested in women. Meg is on the journey because she, too, wants to become a Ciralys, much to Darien’s surprise. He does not want her along and does his best to discourage it. I think Meg is one of the strongest female protagonists in the book. Sevanni is more “delicate” while Meg has more of a take charge personality. When Darien tries to discourage her from becoming a Ciralys, she stands up for herself and tells him she has every right to go and to basically keep his opinions to himself.
There are other characters that they meet along the way. Jaric is steadfast protector and excellent warrior. There are surprises with the Captain of the Rangers as well. So many great surprises in Blood of the Spear that I never anticipated.
The world building was excellent. Kaeil, Darien, Jaric, Sevanni, and Meg live in Hanore, a small citadel in what is known as the Borderlands. There is no ruler, but a steward. They have Keepers, of which Meg was training to become. Some have Ciralys, but not all. They are small towns which was a refreshing change of from the usual, medieval-type cities we so often see in fantasy. As small-town residents, they are eager to leave and see the world outside the borderlands. The catacombs where they fight the daemons we vividly brought to life, the darkness and fear seeping off the pages. While on the run from the Prince, our troupe escapes through Ley Paths that lead to other parts of the world they live in. They first encounter the bleak Deadlands. A world where the veil is thin and daemons would enter. It is a bleak, devoid of life, except for daemon-like creatures, and seemingly endless. The bleakness and chilling feeling of the Deadlands is palpable. Another Ley Path leads to city on the water-literally on the water called The End of the World. Most residents live on boats and they survive through trade. It is a tough city with an equally tough female ruler. This was a unique and great addition to a fantasy world. When they finally make to the Serat, where Crystal Spire is. It is the first step to becoming a Ciralys. The imagery of the beauty of this city is amazing. It is easy to picture a large crystal spire, the beautiful wide streets, the trees and flowers and the colorful markets. What struck me about this was actually the mentioning of trees. It’s strange, but when I think of world building descriptions, I don’t recall wide tree-lined streets!
The Blood of the Spear, Book One of the Eye of eternity is a unique and wonderful debut epic fantasy from Mark Timmony. The characters were well developed, the prose was excellent, and the world building was on par with the best of the genre. As we get to know some of the characters that I did not mention, I felt that some are morally ambiguous and others will surprise you. I liked the twists and turns that the characters took. The action scenes were excellent and also on par with the best of the fantasy genre. The action was well paced throughout the book and keeps the reader on edge and engaged. The world building is excellent, as Mr. Timmony takes us through many worlds and cities. They are vivid and illustrated so well for the reader. The ending is fantastic and will certainly keep you wanting to know more. I highly recommend Blood of the Spear. I highly recommend it and I eagerly await the next book.
Summary (from Storytellers on Tour)
Two brothers. One prophecy. A world in peril.
When Kaiel loses his chance to become part of the legendary Daemon Hunters, joining the Bronze Guard mercenaries seems like the logical alternative. It is an opportunity to put his training to use and, more importantly, as the company is currently in the employ of Prince Alesandr, it will allow him to keep an eye on his younger brother, Darien, who’s determined to follow his dream of becoming a Ciralys magic-user.
But the broken continent of Athmay still bears the scars of the war between the Summoners some three-thousand years ago, and an unexpected battle with a daemon – a remnant of that ancient war – reveals the brothers’ connection to a forbidden bloodline. Soon they find themselves on the run from the prince, daemonic hordes, and a prophecy that could break the world anew.
My thanks to Mark Timmony for a signed copy of Blood of the Spear.
My thanks to Storytellers on Tour for an eBook to review.