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Book Review: Skallagrim by Stephen R. Babb

“And those monsters saw not a young man with a sword but a scarred and screaming horror with the rising red doom of the sun at his back and a hellishly shrieking, flashing, living sword in his hands.”

Skallagrim wakes in the middle of a fight for his life with only the vaguest idea of who he is. Facing an angry mob of murderous cutthroats, he watches helplessly while the love of his life is abducted before his eyes. Finally, with a crushing sense of despair, he realizes he’s going to die without even knowing her name. But he doesn’t die.

To find the girl and take his revenge upon the fiend who took her, Skallagrim, wounded and exhausted, must endure a journey like no other. He’ll face madmen, ghouls, tentacled horrors, and witches, both foul and fair, as he races toward a final showdown that will have readers on the edge of their seats.

An awe-inspiring tale of adventure, triumph, and tragedy, set in a brutal, unforgiving wilderness and packed with heart-stopping action, Skallagrim – In The Vales Of Pagarna marks the first installment of an outstanding new series.
– Official Cover & Book Blurb taken from Amazon

“Get the girl. Kill the man.”

This is one of those stories that could be read repeatedly and you would still find something new about it to enjoy. Mr. Babb has an epic grasp of story telling and conveying a detailed, rich world that tugs at all your senses.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the cursed land of Andorath, following the tragic journey of the pitiable thief, Skallagrim. The descriptions evoked a vivid mental image as events unfolded in the story, setting each scene with wonderful little details that really helped to paint a clear picture – not just of each moment as it unfolded, but the world as well. Every room, every road, felt as tangible and alive as the characters inhabiting them. I had chills the first time I came across “morass” and could almost imagine how awful it would be to walk over such terrain as if I were there myself.

If you’re someone with a lower vocabulary then you’ll need to keep a dictionary handy to be able to grasp certain concepts fully. However, I feel there is pressure on authors to dumb down their writing and I’m glad that Mr. Babb chose not to. That said, there were a few instances where certain word choices felt unnecessary and therefore pretentious, such as “foetid” instead of “fetid”. Whenever I saw them, I was jarred out of the story and that lowered my enjoyment marginally.

Content Warning: Violence, death, and a few mild erotic scenes. There’s a lot of delicious creep factor as well that some might find disturbing.

4.5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Review, Dark Fantasy, Grimdark, Heroic Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery

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