The Ragged Blade by Christopher Ruz reviewed

The Ragged Blade Book Cover The Ragged Blade
Century of Sand Book
Christopher Ruz
Parvus Press LLC
June 04, 2019

As a young mercenary, Richard followed a mysterious Magician on a quest to steal a demon's treasure and overthrow a king. The two men started their journey as strangers, became lovers along the way, and ended as master and loyal soldier.

Twenty years later, that kingdom is steadily falling into ruin and Richard has realized that time and power have twisted the Magician into more monster than man – children disappear nightly into his dungeons and the only things that leave are terrible creatures crafted in the shadows.

To save his own daughter, Richard flees into the wastes where magic boils beneath the sand and monsters walk the dunes in the shape of men. He will return to the burning heart of the desert and restore the demon's treasure, or die in the trying.

What Richard doesn't know is that Ana is the key to the Magician's plans and he and his favorite monster will lay waste to the world to get her back.

In The Ragged Blade by Christopher Ruz Richard is the lead character. He has been a loyal fighter and executioner for years to the Magician. He starts to realise that his master is more evil than people he has been killing on his behalf.  After the death of his wife some years ago he gave his baby daughter into the care of the Magician.  He rescues her and escapes.  They are both in grave danger as Richard has also taken a precious artefact which the Magician treasures.  So begins a journey that has the makings of classic fantasy writing.  The two of them journey in wild places to avoid the Magician and seek help to defeat him.

The pace from the start of this is very good.  He and Ana’s journey is fraught with danger.  However there are times when Richard is reflective.  He is also trying to get Ana to speak – what has the Magician done to her?  This allows him to tell a substantial amount of back story  in a way that satisfied this reader’s curiosity very well.  It is always hard to introduce new worlds, beliefs, magic etc in a convincing way.  For me it worked here.  By the time I was 10% in I had a fair idea of the general setting and was hooked!

The writing is vivid as is the landscapes the Ragged Blade is set in.  In the main Richard and Ana travel through desert areas which create their own problems.  There were times when I was walking through strange landscape with them.  It is fair to say that, as well as writing very well, this author has a dark and powerful imagination.  Some of the creatures he invents are vividly scary.  Meeting some of these in the settings he creates might make this a book not to read at bedtime for those of a sensitive nature.

I really liked the characters here.  Beyond Richard and Ana are others who are well worked.  Are they simply passing by or will we see them again.  Will those who seem to be enemies at the start still be that later and vice versa?  Be prepared for some very interesting people/beings to wander in the pages of this book.  Even minor characters are worthwhile.

Religion plays a real part in this world and its stories.  In practice the item Richard stole from the Magician belongs to a demon.  Richard hopes the demon will help defeat the Magician if this treasure is returned.  However what are the demons in this world and who are the gods?  Will they talk to anyone?  For a fantasy book magic plays quite a small part in this story.  The emphasis is more of basic alchemy which Richard is able to use.  Be prepared for swords and the like rather than spells maybe.

I found the Ragged Blade an enormously satisfying read.  It was one of those books which took over  Any spare minute or two and the decision was what shall I do – the answer was obvious…  I am a fairly selective fantasy reader and can be quite fussy.  However this was right up my street.  While the style and ideas are not similar this book was in the same league as some from writers such as Hobb and Canavan.  I would suggest that a lot of fantasy readers would enjoy this book and hopefully the whole series.  I for one cannot wait for the next book.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review