Review: In the Company of the Dead by Ciara Ballintyne
Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her murdered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile for striking his prince.
Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.
Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.
A faint smile curved her lips, though it held no mirth. “Few like me, Lord Aharris. People aren’t fond of those who are prepared to do the hard jobs that they themselves fear to do.” Wasn’t that the cold hard truth? Recriminations abounded after the Siege of Invergahr, with many people telling him what he ought to have done. Easy to offer an opinion afterwards, when they weren’t present at the time. Someone had needed to make the decisions. That someone was him, and there were no good choices.
REVIEW: If death came to your front door, dressed in a black robe and as a beautiful man/woman–what would be your first thought? Would you let them in–even if they said that they were there to help you evade death? Would you turn them away, knowing that they would probably be able to get what they came for–regardless of your cooperation? Ballintyne has a riveting book of fantasy, one filled with dragons and goddesses. She fills her readers’ heads with fantasy and danger, leaving entertainment and excitement in its wake.
Lyram is the commanding officer of “the castle of angels”, which has now fallen victim to siege. He was exiled for striking the prince, leaving the King forced to belay punishment. After his wife was murdered, he makes a promise to find vengeance against the one(s) responsible…but he is not alone. The left hand of Death, Ellaeva comes to assist him–her primarily goal being to keep him alive…and to find out who killed her parents. Coincidentally, a necromancer in allegiance with the god of decay has run amuck and tampered with all of their food, making some very ill and unable to recover. With little food and nowhere to hide, Lyram and Ellaeva must face the oncoming battle that is just at his gates…and within the castle. When all seems to be at the breaking point, what else could possibly cause more strife…other than finding out the person(s) responsible for his wife’s death is untouchable without possibly committing treason? What matters more–loyalty to the king or loyalty to your word?
Ballintyne has a superb story-line with fantastic character development. All of her characters have such depth that will intrigue the reader and allow them to feel emotions like sympathy and pride. The book is very lengthy, but fast-paced after the initial character introductions. It is also well-written, with little or no errors. If you are a reader of fantasy, science-fiction and/or mythical stories, you may want to add this to your reading list.
A free copy was exchanged for an honest review of this fictional piece.
She started reading epic fantasy at the age of nine, when she kidnapped Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings from her father. Another two years passed before she began her first attempts at the craft of writing. Confronting the Demon is her debut book.
She enjoys horse-riding, and speculation about taking over the world. If she could choose to be anything it would be a dragon, but instead she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House. M.D.