“The Free” was published in 2014 and was written by Brian Ruckley (http://www.brianruckley.com). Mr. Ruckley has published 6 novels.
I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there is Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is set in a mythical land. The primary characters are Drann, Yulan and Morve.
Drann is a 17 year old that has left his village to join Lord Creel’s army. He is new to fighting and barely survives his first battle. But because he seemed to act to save Lord Creel, he is set to cary the contract between Lord Creel and The Free. Lord Creel has set The Free to intercept Callotec before he can reach Empire lands.
Yulan is the current Captain of The Free, the last of the sanctioned mercenary armies in the Kingdom. He and the others are ready to disband at last, but a offer of contract comes from Lord Creel that Yulan cannot turn down. The handful of remaining Free soldiers commit to follow Yulan this one last time. Partly because of their faith in Yulan. Partly because the contract will both erase a black mark against The Free, and prevent the dreaded Empire from gaining the edge they need to take over the Kingdom.
More is head mistress of The School. The School is where those adept in magic, the Clevers, are trained. She also has at her disposal the Clade, the school’s army led by Sullen.
This Fantasy novel reminds me a little of The Black Company books by Glen Cook. There is a great deal of battle, both with magic and sword, as The Free attempts to stop the last with royal blood, Callotec, from committing further atrocities and carrying a powerful object of magic to the Empire. They must also deal with Sullen and his army who is committed to destroying The Free.
I thought that the magic used in the novel was creative. I think that a little more depth of the characters could have been developed, but overall I liked most of the characters that were introduced. The plot was not exceptional, but it made for a good read. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.
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