Review: Stone & Shield (Fall of Emros #1) by Thomas J. Devens


Rating: 8/10

Synopsis

The Emperor is dead. His son now inherits the throne to the Emrosian Empire and he dreams of greatness.

The mercenaries of the Stone and the Shield have fulfilled their contract in the southern deserts of Ahnvesh. Now they must begin their journey to the imperial capital of Emros City to be paid. A long march and an odd job stand between them, a hefty payment, and possible retirement. But as they march, the Empire they thought they knew is changing.

In the far west the Councilors of Guilion seek answers to their own problems, and those that would effect the future of the world. Their source of power nears its end, their ties to the Empire are failing. Now, they must decide which part of their world matters most.

Review

Stone & Shield is the first release in Thomas J. Devens’ Fall of Emros series. It was written in a classical fantasy style and in multiple POVs. I like the story, and I think the writing is technically very sound.

Devens does a really nice job of creating disparate storylines, both really intriguing in their own right but that have a tertiary connection, as well. It makes the Emrosian Empire (the featured world in the book), really interesting. This place already had a lot going on, and the Emperor dying is a catalyst for change. Not necessarily good change, though, as his son and heir is a bit of a terror (big Joffrey vibes from this one), but change, nonetheless. The storyline featuring the Councilors of Guilion brings its own narrative drama, also, that is very different and brings a welcome aspect of the story that compliments the other two pieces.

My favorite part of the book, though, was following the Stone and the Shield, a mercenary group who travel the Empire getting paid for jobs. With their most current job complete the crew is looking to get paid but so much happens along the way. Nothing is ever easy in the Emrosian Empire, and the Stone and the Shield’s journey demonstrates that. This storyline is more of an adventure fantasy than anything, and that is why it appeals to me so much.

I would have rated this book a little higher, but I felt there was something missing as I was reading. It was hard to put my finger on it for a while, but I realized by the end what it was: emotion. From a technical standpoint, I think this book is really well-written. All three POV’s are distinct and interesting, there is suspense and drama, and the story is adventurous; but, there was not enough emotion built in for me, and if the journey is not emotional it falls a little flat. That is what happened with here, in my opinion.

As I mentioned above, Stone and Shield is a really interesting, classical-type fantasy read. I like the distinct POVs, and the characters and world building are really interesting. While I wish the story was more emotive, that fact is not going to keep me from recommending it for those who enjoy classical fantasy. It fits very well in the genre.

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