Hello and welcome to another review in Vesna’s section of The Swordsmith blog. Today’s book of choice is The Sons of Mil by L.M. Riviere, which is a debut novel. I was given a free copy from BookSirens in exchange for an honest review. I took a chance with it because the premise sounded quite amazing and the book has been inspired by Celtic mythology. I don’t really remember ever reading a book inspired by it so it was a natural choice for me.
On the continent of Innisfail, Old Gods reign. Following five hundred years of vicious conflict, the High King has negotiated an armistice between the immortal Sidhe in the North, and the human populations of the South; the Sons of Mil. In this land of treacherous magic and ageless blood feuds, the peace is precarious at best.
Ben Maeden is an outcast. He doesn’t have many loyalties and also has no interest in the political strife brewing in the South. Since he believes he has nothing left to lose, he’s content to fade into drunken obscurity in the wilderness. When a rare moment of conscience compels him, he rescues a young girl from a band of mercenaries. The heroic act gets him in the middle of a far-reaching conspiracy since Una Moura is no ordinary girl. Branded a heretic and scourged by her own people, she hides a secret that could spell disaster for everyone. Haunted by militant nobles, dark creatures and ambitious zealots, Ben and Una find themselves in a desperate race to prevent a war. But not every enemy lurks in the shadows. Haunted by the ghosts of his former life, Ben may discover the greatest challenge lies within. Can he reconcile his past to safeguard Innisfail’s future, or is he doomed to repeat his mistakes?
This is a story that has been told many times. A mighty hero and damsel in distress. But there’s a twist. The mighty hero is a lone drunk and he hides a big secret. The damsel? Turns out she’s not so helpless after all.
I have to say I really loved this book and it has to be one of my favorite debut novels I’ve read lately. It really is epic fantasy in every way possible. It has heroes, monsters, complex political schemes and plenty of magic. I didn’t know much about Celtic Mythology, so for me it was a breath of fresh air and I loved learning about it.
The plot of the book was masterfully written. Like I mentioned before, there are so many different threats. Political intrigue and large battles, which are so vividly written, you can get a taste of bloodshed. To be aware: there are many characters to get to know, but everything fits so perfectly together, there’s nothing confusing about it. The characters made this book really great. I loved getting to know Ben and Una. Their stories connected the whole plot of the book, from their past to their time together and are developed beautifully. The pacing is very methodical and the story delivered to the point. The whole world of Innisfail is quite atmospheric and skillfully developed but the book doesn’t bore you with too many details, just the right amount to get the perfect picture.
There is one more aspect of the book I have to mention: the language. I absolutely loved the dialogues and there is one particular reason about it. The dialect. Since English is not my primary language the dialect was so well incorporated within dialogues I could actually hear it when I was reading the book. I’m sure it’s not really a big deal to native English speakers but for me it made all the difference.
The conclusion about the book? There was a little problem here and there but since the book is so very well done, you can easily ignore them. I really suggest to everyone who loves epic fantasy to pick this book up. I promise, you won’t regret it. Since this is supposed to be a series I can hardly wait for the second book to be announced because I’ll be picking it up right away.