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Gallow: The Crimson Shield, by Nathan Hawke

review published on September 4, 2013. Reviewed by Sara Garland

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

You cannot begin to review this book without first passing comment on the cover; an amazing artistic image without title or text. It is eye-catching, artistically impressive and very refreshing to see. Not only that but it managed to pretty much capture the essence of the book.

Gallow is the central character. He is a Northlander, a Lhosir soldier who crossed the seas, serving his King, engaging in years of battle to fight the Marroc and the Vathan settlers. However when the end of his king’s reign occurs, disliking the ways of the new prince, he forges his own path, shaving off his distinguishing beard, reinventing himself as a blacksmith, marrying a local Marroc woman and becoming a father.

He is a good man, a warrior at heart with his own moral code; perhaps ahead of his time, as he finds not only is his integration viewed very negatively by his own Lhosir people, neither is he properly accepted by the Marroc, merely tolerated at a distance. But he is a strong character not readily phased by such outward hostility.

His quiet life changes when war returns to his doorstep, with the Lhosian prince seeking to acquire what is known as the Crimson Shield. A number of events bring him back into the heart of battle.

Whilst there wasn’t much in the way of world building, this was by no means a weakness as it enabled you to get straight into the story and experience battle after violent bloody battle. There were in fact so many battles, some readers may find this to be all consuming, but the story and character development effortlessly takes place through the structure of combat. Each of the main characters seemed to have at least two names they were known by, which were used interchangeably within paragraphs. Whether I was a bit tired at times when reading and this affected my concentration I’m not sure, but I did find this stilted my reading flow as I had to re-think about which character was which. The story belted along at quite a pace, so some aspects of the story and characters got glossed over. Given it is the first book in a trilogy, this will have most probably been deliberate. Enough mystery was sustained, particularly about the Crimson Shield and the deeper background of some of the characters to keep you curious and intrigued. The ending was particularly impressive, a great cliff hanger, leading you straight into book number 2, Cold Redemption, published from 8 August. Book 3, the Last Bastion will be released 13 September 2013.

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