Published February 15th 2016
The book blurb:
‘Slaughtered and left for crows, soldiers of the King’s Army lay dead in a field. A grim reminder: the king’s law ends at the gates of the capital.
Elinor fought for what she believed and now she is an outcast. No soldier will follow her. No officer will stand with her. Yet when she finds her brothers and sisters slaughtered, she cannot turn her back on them.
Long ago, they swore an oath. Not to the king, but to each other.
And woe to those who break that bond.’
As you probably know, I loved ‘A Reaper of Stone’, the characters, the plot and the action really appealed to me. That coupled with Gelineau and King’s fluid writing style led me to recommend this book to a lot of people. I could not wait to pick up ‘Broken Banners’. It did not disappoint.
In ‘Broken Banners’ we meet Elinor again following the events at Timberline. She has been judged for her actions and thus has lost her command; she is considered to be poisoned fruit.
Elinor encounters a company of soldiers that have been slaughtered in a village that now borders on hysteria; bodies hang from trees and corpses litter the roads. There are surviving soldiers locked in the keep and Elinor vows to rescue them.
We are initially introduced to a new character ‘Aldis’, a misanthrope with charm and wit aplenty. I really like Aldis’ personality and is characters flaws; not always wanting to do the right thing. Within this we see more of a grey area in regards to a character’s morality. This is what separates this novella from A Reaper of stone where the characters were very black and white in their beliefs. I like this internal conflict and seeing characters having to choose between what they want to do and what they should do as it is something that every reader can identify with.
Elinor is now recognised throughout the army and her deeds at Timberline have spread to the outlying villages and this causes her to be assured in her actions; she has the knowledge that what she is doing is ‘the right thing’. Here we are starting to see a true leader who will sacrifice herself for her fellow soldier and her people. Gelineau and King have given us a strong female character with enough vulnerability for the reader to identify with and to champion.
This novella is full of action, twists and turns and hard choices. The action is thorough and consistent throughout the story and the scenes themselves have been given more detail and transport us into the battles. You feel tired, you feel beat up and as a reader that is what you really want; to be there in the story.
The world of ‘Aederon’ in which the story takes place is also being given a stronger identity through the progression of the novellas. A land that was formed by legendary figures now long forgotten and their message discarded . We are starting to see the depth of the corruption and lack of regard that the nobility have for the common-folk; there is a struggle here between those who have and those who do not. Elinor is our link between society’s factions, and knows firmly which side she is on.
Rating: 4/5. I would recommend this to any reader who enjoys heroic fantasy with a strong protagonist.
Where to find Mark Gelineau and Joe King;