Sunday, May 12, 2024

The Sword Unbound by Gareth Hanrahan - Book Review

From the publisher: Gareth Hanrahan's acclaimed epic fantasy series of dark myth, daring warriors and bloodthirsty vengeance continues with The Sword Unbound.

He thought he was saving the world. That was his first mistake.

Twenty years ago, Alf and his companions defeated the Dark Lord and claimed his city. Now, those few of the Nine that remain find themselves unwilling rebels, defying the authority of both the mortal Lords they once served and the immortal king of the elves - the secret architect of everything they've ever known.
Once lauded as a mighty hero, Alf is now labelled a traitor and hunted by the very gods he seeks to bring down. As desperate rebellion blazes across the land, Alf seeks the right path through a maze of conspiracy, wielding a weapon of evil. The black sword Spellbreaker has found its purpose in these dark days. But can Aelfric remain a hero, or is his legend tarnished forever?

The Sword Unbound is the second book in Gareth Hanrahan's Lands of the Firstborn series. The first book, The Sword Defiant, introduced us to the legend of the Nine and asked "What happens to the fellowship twenty years after they win?" It was an interesting idea, and Hanrahan hooked me with his tale. Now, with the second book, the tale of Aelfric Lammergeier and the dark sword Spellbreaker continues. We catch up with Alf, his sister Olav, his nephew Derwyn (who may or may not have the soul of Peir the Paladin in him), Berys the thief, the wizard Blaise, and the cursed city of Necrad. I don't want to summarize too much because this book is full of twists and turns, including a few things that were very unexpected.

The heart of The Sword Unbound is Alf, a good-hearted man who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. His relationships with his family and friends drive this story and ultimately play a major part in its resolution.

The only drawback to this book was the slow start. The first 100 or so pages are spent away from the main characters (Bor, a minor character from the first book, if the point of view here), and I found myself anxious to reconnect with Alf. However, eventually the two branches of the story connect, and the reason for the seeming side story becomes clear. 

I really enjoyed The Sword Unbound by Gareth Hanrahan. I highly recommend it to all fantasy readers, particularly fans of Joe Abercrombie or readers looking for a little darker take on Tolkein. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next in this series.

I received a preview copy of this book from Netgalley and Orbit in exchange for an honest review.