By: Jeffrey Speight
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Literary Wanderlust
Content Warning: Gore, Violence, Racism, Body Horror, Torture, Human Trafficking
“From Pragarus I shall return
And all Evelium shall burn
The blood of a thousand souls ensnared
Only the loyal few be spared…”, Prologue, Paladin Unbound, Jeffrey Speight
As a debut fantasy novel, I was thoroughly impressed with Jeffrey Speight’s Paladin Unbound. He brings together a diverse array of characters, impressive world building, a classic tale of good versus evil, all told in a unique and compelling way. The story revolves around Umhra the Peacebreaker, a half-human, half-orc Paladin warrior. These warriors would be executed, but have not been known to exist for 800 years, so Umhra hides this side of himself. As people begin to disappear in the City of Anaris, Umhra and his men are tasked with finding them and the cause of the disappearance. It is more than they bargained for. To truly solve the mystery, whose cause is an ancient evil, Umhra teams up with an unlikely band of friends, called the Barrows Pact, each with their own power. Their quest is fraught with danger as they travel through the continent of Evelium. Each character fully developed and unique in the power they possess, but they are not over-powered, which can often happen in fantasy and sometimes lead to ex dues machina. In Paladin Unbound, each character’s prowess contributes to the search, but they are not all-powerful. They must rely on each other if they are to survive and succeed. In addition to Umhra, in the Barrows Pact is Laudin, Nicholas, Gromley, Naivara, Shadow and Balris. Evelium is a rich continent brought to life as the heroes traverse the land. From cities and towns, haunted forests, swamps with witches, to the realm of the Gods, Mr. Speights paints a vivid picture of this diverse continent as we, the reader, tag along with the Barrows Pact. There is fighting, there is violence and gore, but it is part of the story. It is not there for shock purposes for the reader, it is actually the characters who are shocked at some of what they witness. There’s a difference, and it’s a well-written way for the reader to feel what the characters are feeling as well. Paladin Unbound is a wonderful debut novel and I highly recommend it. You will enjoy the journey of the Barrow’s Pact.
Summary from Storytellers on Tour
The last of a dying breed, a holy warrior must rise up against a growing darkness in Evelium.
The most unlikely of heroes, a lowly itinerant mercenary, Umhra the Peacebreaker is shunned by society for his mongrel half-Orc blood. Desperate to find work for himself and his band of fighters, Umhra agrees to help solve a rash of mysterious disappearances, but uncovers a larger, more insidious plot to overthrow the natural order of Evelium in the process.
As Umhra journeys into the depths of Telsidor’s Keep to search for the missing, he confronts an ancient evil and, after suffering a great loss, turns to the god he disavowed for help.
Compelled to save the kingdom he loves, can he defeat the enemy while protecting his true identity, or must he risk everything?
The Barrow’s Pact were wonderfully brought to life. You can feel the great chemistry between them as Mr. Speight wrote them. Umhra was an extraordinary character. I am very glad there was a picture of him since all I thought about were the orcs from Lord of the Rings. Thankfully, he looked nothing like them. Aside from being described as having grayish-green skin and protruding lower canines, Umhra looked human. He was kind, gentle, fiercely protective of his friends and the people of Evelium. Laudin, Nicholas, Gromley, Naivara, Shadow, and Nicholas, the rest of the Barrow’s Pact, were all bound to each other as family. Each had a special skill that completed each other when they were called to battle. My personal favorite was Naivara as she could shape-shift into animals and I love animals. Perhaps that would be my role in the Barrow’s Pact.
Pacing and Prose
Paladin Unbound was nicely paced. There were no parts where I felt that the writing was just filler with nothing to add to the plot. It was paced well with action scenes and character development. We were able to get to know the characters and how they interacted with each other. They had complete story arcs. The action scenes were very well written, with each character contributing using the skills they possessed. For a debut novel, it was well written. I would only say that I found some words used a little too often, but that is minor compared with the overall content of the book.
Paladin Unbound is a wonderful debut novel by Jeffrey Speight and great entry into the epic fantasy genre. Umhra, the half-human, hal-orc, is well fleshed out character. He’s your usual orc. He is actually refined, well-mannered, smart, sharp, kind and fiercely loyal and protective. The Barrow’s Pact becomes Umhra’s family and it’s a great journey that the author takes us on as they prepare to battle to save Evelium. While it is a tale of good versus evil, this band of diverse characters, each with their own power, puts a unique spin on it. Mr. Speight’s world building is fabulous as he brings Evelium to life for us. I highly recommend Paladin Unbound. You will not be disappointed.
My thanks to Mr. Speight for a signed copy of Paladin Unbound and the cool little pyramid that Umhra uses.
For more information on the author, visit his website at https://www.jeffreyspeight.com/
Purchase Paladin Unbound on Amazon
My thanks to Storytellers on Tour for providing me an eBook in exchange for an honest review