Dark Blade – Steve Feasey

“A gift from the gods,” Lae Fetlanger called him, the baby she found abandoned in night; raising him as her own, she named the child Lannigon, but Lae’s husband Gord never forgot that he was a foundling, and after her death his temper grew alongside his drinking and Lann, now a teenager, looked further afield than the pastures and forests of the Maiden’s Fingers.

Across the land, in the city of Stromgard, Horst Rivengeld lies dead, his son Kelewulf pretending to grieve before his cousins; Erik is convinced by his display but astrid is not, having been distrustful of them since they were children. The crown passing to their father Mirvar rather than Kelewulf, the orphan accepts the succession with apparent grace, but his mind is already on a greater power.

The first volume of Whispers of the Gods, Steve Feasey’s Dark Blade is a young adult fantasy novel undemanding of reader or apparently of writer, a “chosen one” narrative whose titular weapon is quite literally handed to Lann by the god Rakur after he has fled his home, his father slain by a wyrewolf, and been taken in by the ageless witch Fleya Gudbrandr of the Faun Forest.

The acquisition of Dreadblade, one of the ancient enchanted “swords of destiny,” and the immediate skills with which it comes a dramatic shortcut, Feasey is equally circumspect in the coup at Stromgard which takes place between chapters, and similarly Kelewulf’s first time practicing majik has him summoning the spirit of the dread Yirgan as though he were an experienced necromancer.

What worked with the light prose of Garth Nix and Sean Williams in Have Sword, Will Travel becomes a burden with Feasey’s phrasing, the characters devoid of life or excitement, his understanding of foreshadowing to place an idea in one chapter – a falling star, an attack in the forest – then have it happen in the next.

A generic fantasy setting with a trite mythology of unpredictable gods and their feuds and interference in the lives of mortals, Dark Blade improves as it progresses as the narrative becomes less fragmented but is never a gripping or demanding read, lacking a strong style or any originality which might distract from the shortcomings.

Dark Blade is available now from Bloomsbury



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