Book Review: Serpentus by A.J. Calvin

Title: Serpentus

Author: A.J. Calvin

Series: The Relics of War

Page Count: 266

Publish Date: February 27, 2024

Publisher: Indie

Buy Serpentus at Amazon.

Synopsis:

Dispatched to Stone Hill to oversee the city’s defenses among nebulous rumors of the Shadow Council’s threat, Owen Greenwaters must rely on the city’s guard and its natural defenses to protect the citizens.

But when an army of mythical hooded ones bolstered by a sea serpent and the Soulless arrive in the wake of a terrible storm, he knows there is little he can do beyond hope the walls hold – and pray to the gods he and Stone Hill’s people will survive.

They are outnumbered, outmatched, and without magical support. Owen is the only knight present in the city. They will be overrun.

The Soulless are merciless and rarely take prisoners, but Owen and the survivors of Stone Hill are exceptions…

And some fates are worse than death.

Serpentus

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My Review:

Serpentus is a standalone book set in The Relics of War series.

The opening sentence amused me because as an introvert, I wholeheartedly disagreed with the statement but it also made me curious about the book. From this point, I was quickly sucked in, curious about this world, what this encroaching evil was, and exactly how one man, Owen, would stand against it.

Seeing Stone Hill and the people who live there helps to build up the world and introduces a number of characters. Seeing the mix of personalities, loyalties, and ways of thinking among the people and wondering how it would affect the incoming events.

When having to deal with men like Captain Methson, who clearly got their position due to politics and strings being pulled, Owen certainly has his hands full. However, it’s clear that many of the other soldiers actually have skill and care about the town.

The pace begins to pick up as the first battle looms. In this time, we get to discover who the enemy is, though not all is revealed at this time. This trickle of information was well done, as it answers questions as the action increases, introducing new elements that Owen and Stone Hill must fight against.

When the battle does it, it is done with brutal efficiency and I have to commend Calvin for writing such an intense battle that occurs in a short time-frame. I was curious to learn more about the Shadow Council, as they were a major player in the battle against Stone Hill.

I also wanted to know more about the Soulless and exactly what they have to do with the hooded ones. I can tell these two factions will have a part to play as the story progresses. Honestly, the Soulless are the most intriguing in this moment, as they are essentially harbingers of death and destruction, which always add depth to stories.

Another character of interest I am looking forward to learning more about is Dranamir. She is quite intense and I can see her doing more damage in the future, which should be fun.

As the story moves forward we get to learn more about another race, the Murkor. These are major players of the story and yet they are also a mysterious race who reveal things about themselves slowly.

Their exact motives have yet to be revealed yet despite the misgivings of Owen and the others, there are hints that the Murkor are not what they appeared to be. However, their connection with the Soulless is clearly a sore spot for them and the people from Stone Hill and it will be interesting to see how this affects events going forward.

As the people of Stone Hill settle into their lives with the Murkor, we get to learn more about this race and see how Owen adapts to this new way of life. Most amusing of all is watching Owen try to remember the names of items since he can rarely remember people’s names.

Along with Owen, we learn more about the Murkor, their caste system, their cave-bound living, and more of why they are working with the Soulless. Many pieces to the puzzle are coming together and while it’s clear there is more to come, these bits of information propel the story forward.

While we don’t get to see a ton of the Murkor, Aj’ana, whom Owen works with is a wealth of knowledge and does her best to help Owen and the others from Stone Hill, but the differences in their cultures and the distrust between them is evident.

You can really see Owen’s character coming through when he learns about the Scorpion Men and what the Murkor are doing with them. This new race has some interesting ramifications throughout the remainder of the story.

Oh all the characters that are introduced, I would say Tessamir is my favorite. Her no-nonsense approach and the ways he doesn’t sugarcoat things is refreshing.

I wish I could talk more bout her, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

There were a couple of big twists that I did not see coming and now we get to see how the title of the book plays into the story. I’m sure anyone who has already read The Relics of Wars series would have known this going in, but I found it to be a great surprise.

This big reveal now leads to another huge rise in action and I kept eagerly reading to see how things would turn out. Battles truly play a major role in this book, even though there are only a few of them, but their impact is felt throughout.

However, once this battle was over things slowed down a bit too much for me. This was the only part of the book where I felt the pace of the story faltered too much, but it was close to the end so I figured it wouldn’t last long.

Luckily, it did pick up as the end came closer. That being said, as slow as that small section was, what was discussed during it held great significance to the Serpentus and their future. Sometimes a slow spot is a necessary evil to reach the end.

The ending was well-done and I felt like it brought everything to a close perfectly.

Overall, Serpentus was a great book. With strong action scenes, a multitude of unique races and cultures, good character building, and a sprinkle of romance. This is a must-read book and has convinced me I need to read The Relics of War series to learn more about this world and it’s many characters and races.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Serpentus. Will you be picking up this book?

Buy Serpentus at Amazon.

10 Comments

  1. Sounds like an awesome book to read. Love the cover as well. Reading your review makes me want to check it out. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Author

      Thank you. This is an amazing book, I hope you do check it out.

  2. As someone with dyslexia, I really need to know how to pronounce the name of this book. I wish fantasy books came with a guide to how to pronounce stuff. Anyway, your review makes the book look like an interesting read

    1. Author

      A pronunciation guide would be helpful for this and other books for sure.

  3. I’ve never heard of this book series or author. I love discovering new ones and this is going on my TBR list! Thanks for the insightful review and sharing the recommendation.

    1. Author

      I’ve read two of her books now and loved them both. This one is definitely worth picking up if you can.

  4. Wow, this one sounds like a goodie! I love reading books that include mysterious characters and (looks like a medieval) fantasy plot that ignites curiosity. Bummer that the post-battle part fell short but it’s cool to know that towards the end, the storyline made up for it!

    1. Author

      It was a great book for sure. It definitely has a medievalish feel to it. Honestly, while there was that slow spot, it was the only slow spot, so I didn’t mind so much. Highly recommend checking it out.

  5. Great review! I have never read anything by AJ Calvin. I will have to add this book to my list.

    1. Author

      Thank you. I’ve read two of her books and I loved them both. Definitely recommend checking them out.

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