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BSFA Review: The Blackhart Blades by David Gullen

13/03/2024 16:35 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The Blackhart Blades cover

The Blackhart Blades by David Gullen

(Newcon Press, 2023)

Reviewed by Steven French

This is a whimsical slice of fantasy involving the usual suspects: a gang of good-hearted mercenaries, known as Blackhart’s Blades, are taking home the heart of their former leader, when, in need of money, they decide to take on one more job while crossing a remote mountain kingdom. The King of Zangomar having just died, the crown has passed to his daughter, Queen, formerly Princess, Zaphron. However, as the Steward Sieur Bon Banacort explains, in between reciting his own bad poetry, Zaphron rushed to her rooms at the top of one of the castle’s towers the day after her father’s death and hasn’t been seen since. That very same night, the kingdom’s Treasury was emptied and the General of its army, so-called ‘Black’ Talahan, retreated to Hardknot Keep, where he is currently holed up, refusing to come out. The Blades’ mission, should they choose to accept it, is to kill Talahan, return the gold to the Treasury and persuade Queen Zaphron to show herself, although Banacort doesn’t seem that bothered about that last bit. A further pinch of spice is added to the stew by the threat that Zangomar faces from Veng the Usurper whose army is massing on the border. And, it turns out, Hardknot Keep occupies the ‘pinch-point’ at the mouth of the valley which offers the only passable route for such an army to march into the kingdom.

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Review from BSFA Review 22 - Download your copy here.


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