Cover Image: The Last Seer King

The Last Seer King

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Member Reviews

This book was SO good, I've gone off and looked for the author's other books.  So amazing in fact, that it almost defies description.  Compelling, solid characters, great writing, a good plot that meant that I picked this book up at 6 pm yesterday, and stayed up until I finished it.  There really aren't many *one sitting* books in my just-finished pile, and to be honest, it was completely out of the blue.  I normally have to be interested in the author first, but I'm delighted and grateful that this free review copy let me meet and enjoy a brand new author.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review via NetGalley, with thanks to the author and publisher.
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As the second in what seems likely to be a several-book series, The Last Seer King follows the continuing journey of Kael and Val Arques as they fight against the evil god Archanin and his army of ghouls that seek to overrun the world. This is not a black-and-white story, however. In a Game of Thrones way, the characters are nuanced and flawed. Some are horrifically evil, but even the "good" characters have destructive and potentially devastating faults to overcome as they wrestle as much with themselves and their humanity as with the sinister god Archanin. The titular character is an ancient king, returned with a mission the defeat Archanin. However, for him, the end justifies the means, and the carnage he will leave in his wake could make him appear almost as despicable as his foe. 

This is a long book, over 800 pages, and I had the disadvantage of not having read the first in the series. There was not much reference to the first novel, which made it feel like I had to hit the ground running with these characters and was often lost and bewildered as to what was going on. I still have little idea of who the main characters are or their backstory but they are intriguing nonetheless, and I enjoyed the novel. Looking forward to seeing how these heroes will complete the task before them, and what it will cost. It is very well written, especially the interactions between Val Arques and the witch who imprisons him.
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Hartland has written a compelling tale about fantasty that leaves the reader waiting for the sequel.   The book as a fast paced plot and there are no dull spots.   I enjoyed the characters  and await the next in the series.
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The story is very compelling. What Kaell and Val go through in this book really makes you feel for them and want them to succeed. The twists and turns are also fascinating and keep you reading. It is a long book, but the moments are enjoyable. 

I received an ARC from netgalley, but this doesn’t affect my review.
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Readers: Can A Hero Go To Far In His Quest To Defeat Evil? Can A Reader Claim Temporary Insanity In Court When A Character Is Continuously Tortured Beyond Reason? All That And More In The Last Seer King (Shadow Sword Series Book #2) By SJ Hartland

Truth be told I have written two different reviews for The Last Seer King (Shadow Sword Series Book #2) by SJ Hartland -official website (our interview with SJ Hartland). If you really want to nitpick, I also mashed the two together and so maybe three, which is what you are getting here, for the most part. Does that make four? Ok. Either way. Blame Ms. Hartland, but of course. Why you ask? I'm glad you asked....

The first reason should be obvious. Kaell and Val Arques. Not only does the continued torture continue from 19th Bladesman for both characters. Although, in all honesty, it is still Kaell I want to take home protect with my life and never let leave my apartment again because somehow, I just think Val Arques will just be fine.  As for Kaell? Hartland finds the most innovative and abhorrent ways to torture Kaell since Ramsay Bolton got ahold of... well anyone.

Let's see... when we left Kaell he had been captured by those he'd sworn, as a bonded warrior to kill, Ghouls and now had been forced to take their blood, promise allegiance to their God Archanin. Now slowly turning into that which he was slowly sworn to kill, Kaell finds help in another prisoner, Azenor (captured by the Ghouls in the first book while on her way to be wed). Together they plan their escape. Kaell not realizing that she has pledged fealty to the Last Seer King, Roaran. He needs Kaell in order to bring down Archanin. But wait for it... because we aren't to that treachery just yet.
Kaell and Azenor do escape Archanin's kingdom and go in search of Val Arques, Kaell believing his lord will do the right thing and put him down before he turns into a full-blown Ghoul. During this time Azenor does everything in her power to keep Kaell believing in her good intentions and loving concern. Upon finding his lord, Val Arques does agree to do the right thing but delays due to the pain it is causing him. He delays too long and all hell breaks loose.
After many plots, twists and turns.... and multiple people come back from the supposed dead, Azenor's plan comes to fruition. And while Kaell is spared death at the pyre by others that find out of his Ghoul blood, he is not spared a fate worse than death. Instead, as Roaran planned he awakens... trapped in Azenor's body.
Roaran intended this. Roaran had planned for this. Because Roaran has plans for this. There are three bloodlines needed to bring Archanin down and Kaell now bonded with Azenor, has two of them. I won't go further. But... just. Poor Kaell. What I will say is that before that is even revealed to him? He gets hit on, attacked by multiple groups from different kingdoms. He gets drugged I don't know how many times (truthfully, I don't even know why he keeps drinking wine) and has his skull crushed to the point that I'm shocked doesn't actually believe he is Azenor ... and this whole entire time? He thinks Val Arques is DEAD. Why do you ask? GOOD! Let me go back in time a bit...
While Kaell was busy being trapped in Azenor... Val Arques is captured while trying to help find Azenor (yes that Azenor because he doesn't know that Kaell is in Azenor and is trying to help her brother who saved his life and then find Kaell and they were together lest he knew) by Heath Damadar. Her brother (also back from being supposedly very dead) had set him up because he really thought Azenor was with Heath (and she was- but it was Kaell, of course- but he escaped) ... almost one hella reunion there. 

Quick side note- Heath is an incredibly complex character and best written character across the series, so far. Quick witted, funny, arrogant and a brilliant swordsman. He is easy to hate but at the same time you want to like him and over the course of the second book him and his sister Judith begin to win you over. Playing their part in the shadows for most of the 19th Bladesman, they really come to the forefront in Last Seer King. With their characters fleshed out, they truly get the chance to grip readers attention and thrive.

But at this point, Heath sets a scene of carnage making sure everyone, Kaell included will believe Val Arques and Aric is dead... again. The Damadars will then be able to imprison them so that any sibling can do as they choose with him, Myranthe, a powerful sorceress to the Gods, included. Unfortunately for Val Arques, even he is no match for her mind, body and soul magic. Thus, his torturous journey begins and continues throughout the story- unravelling many secrets from 19th Bladesman, while leaving his sanity in the balance. 

Underneath all of this is that all of them- those you hate, love and love to hate- are all pawns for Roaran. And that is where everything is woven together. Hartland shines most when the chess board comes to the forefront of the plot. The intricacies of watching the chess pieces move is spectacular but knowing who the puppet masters are that move the chess pieces along are what make the series riveting. 

You expect to be the devious and villainous to cast spells and control others against their will- and oh believe me, they do. They don't disappoint. And it is in these moments that so many juicy secrets we've been waiting for are revealed (yet so many are still yet to come).

Roaran means to do well. He wants, at the end to take down Archanin before Ghouls overrun the lands for centuries to come. It is a noble goal. However, he is playing with lives and moving people around without regard for anyone. The question becomes, even if you mean well, at what point does the price become too steep?
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SJ Hartland satisfies my craving for quality fantasy writing in The Last Seer King.  Adventure, action, larger than life characters — all are featured here.
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