My rating: 5 of 5 stars
**I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review from the NetGalley**
The world is full of heroes, villains, and all the shades in between. The Bound Folio tells their stories from the tortured childhood of the legendary Blademaster the Sword of the North, to the humble origins of the Queen of the Five Kingdoms, to the death of one of the world's greatest assassins.
This anthology collects together eight dark stories of swords, sorcery, and seduction from First Earth, the setting of Rob J. Hayes' The Ties That Bind trilogy.
"The Sword of the North" - Northborn lordling Derran Fowl has a natural affinity for swordplay. Even so, such a talent cannot contend with an alcoholic father who invites an Arbiter to their estate in order to investigate his own sickly daughter and Derran's beloved little sister, Leesa. Learn the origins of what drives young Derran to begin a journey that ends with the Sword of the North.
"The Night Blade" - A tale in which two fabled assassins, one a veteran of the trade, the other a promising upstart, are hired by the same man to kill one another, with the prize being a major contract for a hefty sum.
"The Kid" introduces an undersized street rat at the bottom of the pecking order in his small group of famished and thieving orphans. A victim of frequent beatings and constant bullying, learn how he overcomes his enemies in the unfeeling gutters and alleyways of Korral.
"The Battle of Underbridge" - Tristan Southerland and his fellow squires intend to get riproaring drunk on a night out. Instead, they find themselves fighting for their lives — and dying — against a pestilent tide of ceaseless foes.
"The Merchant of Truridge" - Sirion Tell is married to the perfect woman, and although his father has recently passed, he has inherited a considerable sum and the future looks bright for the enterprising newlyweds...until he crosses paths with the pirate known as Drake Morass.
"The Twins" - Irris the Drurr is charged with the protection of royal half-breed twins as they flee to the surface world. In the coming weeks, beneath the open skies, will she be able to lead both small girls to a safe haven? Or will they be caught by human hunters; or worse, their own merciless people, intent on slaughtering the twins merely for being born?
"The Mistress of the West" - In the western deserts of the Five Kingdoms, the school of mistresses instructs young girls like Shián how to capture rich and powerful husbands to increase their family's status; however, will the mistresses be able to teach Shián what cost the price of vengeance?
"Beck" - An Arbiter of the Inquisition finds herself at the mercy of pirates, taken captive for her magical abilities and used to locate a mysterious treasure. When the treasure itself turns out to potentially be heretical, the Arbiter finds she must make a choice between her duty or freedom.
Cover: Love it!
Rating 5 Stars
Overall: Action packed and well written
Characters: Imperfectly human, perfectly written!
Plot: Exquisitely grim and gritty!
Page Turner: Yes
Series Cont.? Yes!
This book was made up of six short stories, told some of the side characters in Rob Hayes The Ties That Bind Us series. I have not read the other books yet, but this one was brought to my attention since it was on NetGalley. I plan to read the others soon! I loved the way it was written, with vivid detail, plenty of action and wit, and just enough gritty gore to satisfy! If you enjoy a well written, dark fantasy, I highly recommend you check out this series!
"The Sword of the North" - Not my favorite, but as a first story it didn't bother me. I think it works well to get you into the dark and dirty world that Hayes has created.
Score: 3 stars
"The Night Blade" - One of my favorites, I enjoyed seeing the assassins size each other up. You really don't know what to expect from either, and that makes their story all the more irresistible!
Score: 5 stars
"The Kid" - Again not my favorite, but I did enjoy it. I liked The Kid, but his tale is sad, and turning him into a monster as life deals him a heavy round of bad luck.
Score 3 stars
"The Battle of Underbridge" - This was another one that I really enjoyed. I always enjoy a good knight's tale, and this was no exception!
Score 5 stars
"The Merchant of Truridge" - When it started, I hated this one. But loved it at the end! This one was another that was filled with emotion, the less than pretty kind. But it was so well written it takes you on a roller coaster of ups and downs!
Score 4 stars
"The Twins" - I enjoyed this one, but it was the most difficult to keep up with. Having no knowledge of the world, I had to rely on what the story gave. It was good, since I was able to understand enough to enjoy the story, but because it's about a race of creatures unique to First Earth, there was some confusion at the beginning.
"The Mistress of the West" - I wasn't sure what to feel about this one. It sounded intrigue, but it wasn't until I got into it that I really started to like it, but then it took a turn and sucker-punched me in the gut! This is also the only one that I was able to guess what happened, but I was still left unprepared when it did!
Score 4 stars
"Beck" - This was my second favorite, or tied as my favorite! I loved the characters, and again they were fun, dangerous, and unpredictable! Just the way I like them! Full of danger, and questions, it is a great end to this book, and leaves me excited to find out more about the characters of First Earth!
About the Author:
Rob J. Hayes was born somewhere south of the cockney wastelands in a small town called Basingstoke. He grew up with all the usual boy toys including Lego, Star Wars figures (complete with working lightsaber action) and plenty of Transformers. Playing with these toys inspired his imagination and as soon as he was old enough he started playing with swords... OK, wooden sticks.
At the age of fourteen he started writing but, like most fourteen year old boys, everything had to be either a vampire, a werewolf, or have superpowers. Thankfully, like most fourteen year old boys, he eventually grew up... a bit.
After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey, Rob ran away to live on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.
When he’s not madly scribbling his next epic, Rob has a variety of hobbies that, unsurprisingly, are fantasy themed. He regularly plays card games based on the A Game of Thrones and the Netrunner universes and attends tournaments throughout the UK. Rob also enjoys Airsofting: the act of running around a forest with fake guns shooting (being shot by) his friends.