Review: Death of a City: Birth of a Curse

First, I must make my bias’ known at the top, as I do. I’m a (one-time) beta reader for the Lords of Order and Chaos series, I run the official wiki for the Bloodlines Reforged Saga, and I’m an admin on the official Facebook group. I received this story for free, though anybody can by signing up for R.J. Hanson’s newsletter. This story is also included in Whetstones of the Will, as a prologue to the story, where some scenes are worded slightly differently. This review will contain spoilers for Roland’s Path.

While the story is included in Whetstones of the Will, it’s better off being read before and/or after Roland’s Path. Death of a City, Birth of a Curse introduces a handful of new characters as well as gives crucial insight into the past of numerous people who make appearances in Roland’s Path and the Bloodlines Reforged Saga as a whole.

Disclaimers and backstory aside; surprise surprise, I enjoyed this story. It’s set from the perspective of Lord Ivant née King Ivant, a distant ancestor of Roland. It gives the backstory to things such as how Nolcavanor was destroyed, why and how King Vech’s axe was lost to the Dwarves, and how Lord Ivant was betrayed by some of his closest friends. If read before Roland’s Path (timeline order), it might just seem like a generic fantasy short story. If read after reading Roland’s Path, you will find yourself wanting to re-read it with the context of these events, what they mean, and their ramifications.

The story is well-paced and exciting but this leads me to the first downside though. The story picks up right after King Ivant and his close friend Truethorne have just slain a Kraken and why oh why did we have to be teased with such an awesome fight, only to be denied? I can see how the story might seem dull if it started off with troop movements or logistics. Maybe if it started in the middle of an intense fight with a Kraken, we wouldn’t feel invested because it wasn’t earned. But the alternative is wishing it was one chapter longer so we could know how it went down.

The second downside is minor in my opinion. I was a bit confused with the names. I have a difficult time with names and despite taking extensive notes for the series wiki, I was having trouble telling if the City or the Cathedral the story was set in/around was called Ivory Rose. (It’s the city.)

This isn’t a case of whether or not I think you should read it. The issue here is *when* to read it. If you read Roland’s Path first, then Death of a City; you realize how poetic it was for Roland to don his distant ancestor’s arms and armor. Of all the people in Stratvs, his descendant was the one to discover his treasured sword of legend and armor. To me, that scene carries a lot more weight with the context. But on the other hand, if you read Death of a City first, you might not realize how important some of these things are until much later, at which point you might not have given them a second thought and will have forgotten about them.

In the story, King Vech has an axe. Big deal, a Dwarf with an axe, what’s new? When you read Roland’s Path, you learn that was THE AXE of the Dwarven Kings and has been lost for 2,000 years. But I might ask you when you read the story, do you really give Vech’s axe a second thought with everything else that’s going on? This is why I previously mentioned that it should possibly be read before and after Roland’s Path. First for the context of what some of these things are to the story and then for the weight of just how big of a deal these were to the story.

If you couldn’t tell, this series has really captured my interest. I hope that cums across in this review. I hope that readers who stumble across this series will give it a shot. The reason I made a wiki for this series and got invested early on was because I could tell how much love and care was put into building the lore of this world. … I mean, really, it was just because I wanted to nerd out on the lore and couldn’t keep track of all of the ranks, titles, locations, etc. and nobody had made a wiki for it yet…. but that’s not nearly as epic sounding.

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