Scourge of the Betrayer: Bloodsounder's Arc Book One

Scourge of the Betrayer: Bloodsounder's Arc Book One

by Jeff Salyards


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Many tales are told of the Syldoon Empire and its fearsome soldiers, who are known throughout the world for their treachery and atrocities. Some say that the Syldoon eat virgins and babies — or perhaps their own mothers. Arkamondos, a bookish young scribe, suspects that the Syldoon’s dire reputation
may have grown in the retelling, but he’s about to find out for himself. Hired to chronicle the exploits of a band of rugged Syldoon warriors, Arki finds himself both frightened and fascinated by the men's enigmatic leader, Captain Braylar Killcoin. A secretive, mercurial figure haunted by the memories of those he’s killed with his deadly flail, Braylar has already disposed of at least one impertinent scribe… and Arki might be next.

Archiving the mundane doings of millers and merchants was tedious, but at least it was safe. As Arki heads off on a mysterious mission into parts unknown, in the company of the coarse, bloody-minded Syldoon,he is promised a chance to finally record an historic adventure well worth the telling, but first he must survive the experience! A gripping military fantasy in the tradition of Glen Cook, Scourge of the Betrayer explores the brutal politics of Empire–and the searing impact of violence and dark magic on a man’s soul.

Skyhorse Publishing, under our Night Shade and Talos imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of titles for readers interested in science fiction (space opera, time travel, hard SF, alien invasion, near-future dystopia), fantasy (grimdark, sword and sorcery, contemporary urban fantasy, steampunk, alternative history), and horror (zombies, vampires, and the occult and supernatural), and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller, or a Hugo or Nebula award-winner, we are committed to publishing quality books from a diverse group of authors.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597804516
Publisher: Night Shade
Publication date: 01/08/2013
Series: Bloodsounder's Arc Series , #1
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 8.82(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jeff Salyards grew up in a small town north of Chicago. While it wasn't Mayberry, it was quiet and sleepy, so he got started early imagining his way into other worlds that were loud, chaotic, and full of irrepressible characters. While he ultimately moved away, he never lost his fascination for the
fantastic, though his tastes have grown a bit darker and more mature over the years. Salyards lives near Chicago with his wife and three daughters. By day, he is a book editor for the American Bar Association; by night, he will continue to crank out novels as long as there are readers willing to read them.

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Scourge of the Betrayer: Bloodsounder's Arc Book One 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Beauty_in_Ruins More than 1 year ago
Most fantasy novels begin with a very clear explanation of who the characters are, what the story is about, and where the story is going; the author immediately defines a goal, a destination, or an objective against which to measure progress; and then leads us to the discovery of a monster, a villain, an empire, or a philosophy to be defeated as the ultimate measure of success. With Scourge of the Betrayer we get none of that. We're introduced to the characters by name, given a few vague hints and clues as to their roles within the world, and then we're off. Much like Arki, the scribe who provides our focal point into the world, we're kept in the dark as to where we're going, why we're going there, and what it is we hope to accomplish. More than that, we're denied any insight into the significance of events, and robbed of the opportunity to play along and estimate where we are on the journey. It's a dangerously ambitious way to tell a story, and one with as much potential to alienate readers as to engage them. Fortunately, Salyards know just how to pace his clues, creating a sense of drama and anticipation that wouldn't otherwise be found in what is ultimately revealed to be a rather straightforward tale. Instead of driving towards a goal or a destination we, as readers, are driving instead towards an understanding of who Captain Braylar is and what, exactly, his Slydoon are up to. The fact that Salyards tells such a stark, brutal, realistic tale certainly helps - had this been a lighter or brighter fantasy, the storytelling likely wouldn't have worked so well. Instead, the edginess of the storytelling plays well against the edginess of the characters and their world, actually serving to draw the reader in. Make no mistake, it's a literary tease, and one that's often frustrating, but it somehow all comes together. Of course, every story must have its end, and every mystery must have it's big reveal. The big reveal here is less of a "WOW!" and more of an "hmm . . . okay" moment, but it's in keeping with the rest of the story. While I was looking for something a bit more grand, something with a bit more significance, I can't really say I was disappointed. The reveal, and the casual way in which it takes place, just seem to fit. Besides, in a story that is so character-driven, it's only fitting that the most significant moments be saved for the characters themselves, not their journey. My only complaint is that this feels like less of a complete story and more of a first arc in a longer book, the kind of opening instalment that catches your interest but leaves you wanting to reserve judgement until you know more. Having said that, it's an intriguing enough first arc to make me want to read more, and there's no better recommendation I can offer than that.
saltmanz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've received, read, and reviewed review copies of books before, either won via random internet giveaways, or through dedicated early reviewer programs. But Scourge of the Betrayer marks the first time an author has personally reached out to me and said, "Hey, would you like a copy of my new book to review?" Normally, I'd be flattered, but also a little wary, having been burned more than a couple of times doing advance reviews of fantasy debuts. In this case, however, by the time Jeff Salyards had emailed me, I had already seen a handful of glowing reviews for the first book in the Bloodsounder's Arc series, and so in this instance I was flattered and immediately said, "Yes, please!"And I'm glad I did.The first thing that jumped out at me when I removed the dust jacket (as I do before reading) was that Night Shade Books went all-out in making this a gorgeous-looking book. The silver inlay on the blue hardcover looks fantastic, and in addition to printing the author name and title on the spine, as per usual, they're also printed on the front cover, along with the swipe from the dust jacket and a splatter of silver blood in the corner; a second splatter adorns the back cover. It just looks fantastic and immediately makes you think you're holding something special in your hands.The story inside is related in the first-person by Arkamondos ("Arki"), an archivist who's been hired by the Syldoon captain Braylar Killcoin to chronicle the exploits of his mercenary company. The novel starts off with the bookish Arki first meeting Braylar and his crew, and assumes a leisurely pace as the gang gears up for their mission while Arki gets a handle on the company and his place in it. Some might say "slow" instead of "leisurely"¿very little happens for the first half or so of the book; it's mostly downtime at inns or travel across a wide sea of grasslands¿but it's never sluggish; Salyards spends this time developing his handful of characters and the world they inhabit, most of which is just as foreign to Arki as it is to the reader. There are some moments of action, certainly, but the far more numerous and quieter moments are just as compelling. It's a wise choice by Salyards, I think: by the time the real plot kicks in with all the action and excitement you could hope for, you've become invested in these characters and the mysteries of their world. And when death comes¿and this being the type of book that it is, death will come¿I was surprised by just how hard it hits. That kind of emotional connection in a book that runs a scant 250 pages is a rare thing; kudos to Salyards for making each of those pages count.I've seen a number of comparisons to Glen Cook's Black Company books, and...I dunno, getting compared to Cook is kind of the default thing when you're talking about first-person military fantasy. Salyards' book is gritty and bloody and grunt-level and narrated by an archivist, yes, but it has a very different feel for a few reasons. First is Arki's perspective as an outsider to the Syldoon group: he's out of his depth in this new world of soldiery and intrigue right alongside the reader. Secondly, although this is very much a fantasy novel, the fantastical elements play little to no role in this book (though presumably they'll be far more important later in the series.) There are no mages wielding powerful magic in battle here¿it's just swords and crossbows and shields, prowess and guts and determination, and luck. The action is decidedly mundane, and feels that much more visceral and real for it. Finally, though the Black Company is ground-level in scope, there's still an epic war going on in the background; Scourge of the Betrayer is much more intimate, and though there are, in fact, long-range machinations going on behind the scenes, they feel far more subtle and less immediate.As mentioned, this is a pretty short book. A lot happens, but not a whole
majkia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What the heck is the Veil, why did the gods leave, what the devil is Braylar up to? A scribe is hired by a group of infamous men led by a 'Black Noose' to record their actions as directed by their King. LIttle did the scribe know what he was getting into. And what few answers he might actually be given.I enjoyed the characterizations, and the dialog, and the action. I was disappointed that the book itself offered no real resolution. I'll have to read the follow on in hopes of that. Still, a good read that left me wanting more.
donaldmcobb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a very strong debut. There are a few minor quibbles (awkward word choices, words being repeated too close together, and it probably needed another look by a proofreader), but that's all technical stuff and has nothing to do with the important things, like story and character.I was strongly reminded of Glen Cook's Black Company books, and while I know that's become a fairly common thing to say over the last few years, I think Salyard has done it better than nearly everyone else. He avoids most of the excessive grimdark baggage that plagues writers like Joe Abercrombie and focuses on a group of soldiers doing their thing. He (Salyard) doesn't flinch from violence, but he doesn't fetishize it. Violent things happen for a reason and not just as an excuse to write about guys getting stabbed.Overall I'm very pleased that I picked this up and will be eagerly anticipating the sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading other reviews i thought this book would be great. I just did not see it in such a great light. Thought it was pretty slow, which can be fine, as i love thick character building. But i was bored alot too. Doubt i will be continuing series, but go with what you will- many people seem to have loved this book. Me, not so much.
Thoughtsstainedwithink More than 1 year ago
You know a book has promise when you start reading it one night before bed and then by the time you force yourself to actually go to sleep, its past two in the morning and you’re already halfway through the book.  That was exactly the case for Jeff Salyards’s novel, Scourge of the Betrayer, book one in the Bloodsounder’s Arc series. This book has everything that you would expect from a kick starter of a dark fantasy series: blood, gore, sex (or at least talking about it, as Braylar’s company of Syldoon’s are not shy to do…ever), political intrigue, death, magic, twists and turns, the whole nine yards. It’s a story about a young scribe Arki, enlisted by Captain Braylar Killcoin, leader of this particular group of Syldoon, to chronicle their journeys. Unfortunately for Arki, but fortunately for us as readers, Arki hasn’t a lick of an idea when it comes to what he’s gotten himself into, and I personally think that even by the end of the novel, he still doesn’t.  We follow and root for Arki as he struggles to deal with a company of men (and one crippled woman) that he has only ever heard horror tales about, and we feel for him as some of those tales prove closer to reality than fiction. Arki proved to be a good protagonist, albeit naïve, and one I had no problem cheering for. However, I was much more interested in the rest of the company and was probably as frustrated as Arki when I had to work for the details about each member. I’m still frustrated that I feel wanting for more, even at the end (but trust me, Salyards, that’s a good thing). I still cannot decide my opinions on Braylar himself: a dark man with a dark past and a magic that sends shivers up my spine, he is the type of man you don’t like, but you respect, because he makes the decisions that no one wants to make, and isn’t afraid to choose the harder choice. I understand Arki’s fear of him and I can’t decide if I like him or not. Lloi might have been my favorite, as she played the role of underdog. I loved the banter between Glesswik and Vendurro. Mulldoos I was not a fan of, but I don’t think I was meant to be, either. But I am also intrigued by him and want to learn more about him. Hewspear has a special place in my heart, just because I think he might be one of the few within the company to have a heart. But these characters are very well developed and I enjoyed reading and learning about them, both as a unit and as individuals. As for the writing itself, Salyards wrote in a quick-pace that was easy to follow. He gave special attention to the battle scenes which I appreciated. And the dialogue, usually banter, whether between company members or between the Baron (which those scenes need a whole review of their own) and Braylar, was particularly on point.  Overall, this book was a pleasure to read. It kept my interest, it got me invested and left me craving for more. I’m quite excited to go and read Veil of the Deserters, and I recommend, if you haven’t already, to give Scourge of the Betrayer a go. If you appreciate good literature, you won’t regret it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sandman_Slim101 More than 1 year ago
Jeff Salyards has done something new. He has taken the fantasy epic and made it intimate in a way most authors just can't manage. Scourge of the Betrayers take many elements of fantasy, such as the fish out of water character, a character dealing with a curse, as well as mentally and physically damaged characters with unknown motivations, and weaves a tale that is gritty, dark, humorous and action packed in turns. The battle scenes are especially well set, taking into account in a real way how melee weapons would fare against armor and horse, and leaving you in doubt who will prevail. The author seems to have taken special care with the narrator, a scribe, to ensure that he didn't go from a weakling into Conan, but instead acts in character of a person who has not been threatened with battle before, and acts accordingly. The characters grow organically to the story, and the ending only leaves you wanting more, which he has thoughtfully provided in a second book. One of the best reads this year. If you like the writing Joe Ambercrombie,  Anthony Ryan, Brian McClellan, Scott Lynch or Brian Stavely, you will enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arkamondos is a scribe trapped in a life of recording the day-to-day activities of merchants and lower nobles. The most exciting stories he records are of successful recoveries from droughts. But one day he gets offered a position by a unique employer – Braylar Killcoin, a Captain of the Syldoon Empire and leader of a band of soldiers on a mission in the kingdom of Anjuria. Arki jumps at the possibility of recording history, travelling with and recording the deeds of a retinue of the feared Syldoon. Through near-death experiences and death threats from his new comrades, Arki wonders if adventure is the right fit for him, but soon enough, he knows too much to be released from duty without feeling a crossbow bolt through his skull.  Scourge of the Betrayer is a thrilling introduction to the Bloodsounder’s Arc series by Jeff Salyards. Secrets are slowly unveiled, patience tested, and personalities forced into conflict. Combined with fierce fighting, Salyards builds tension on every side until the plots that have been running behind-the-scenes burst into the forefront. A lot of effort goes into establishing the core characters and their relationships to each other, so their reactions to events are highly personal. Supernatural artifacts and abilities add some extra flavor to the story, with a flail mysteriously connected to the ancient Deserter gods and people born with the special ability to manipulate memories playing key roles. Despite the importance of these supernatural elements, they do not overwhelm the story. They help shape the text, but do not define it. The definition of the story is solidly left to the characters and their machinations, which really helps provide some depth. I’m definitely excited to continue reading Salyards’ work. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been on a science fiction kick lately and took a break from that genre on the recommendation to read Scourge of the Betrayer. I found that it flowed very well and kept me interested throughout. When I read a good book I get immersed where all the action appears as a movie flowing through my mind. Scourge of the Betrayer does that for me. I am looking forward to Book Two in the series.
C-Bradley More than 1 year ago
An outstanding novel. I loved the characters, the scenery, the story and the style of writing. Mr. Salyards is a fantastic storyteller and I look forward to traveling with him as his epic unfolds. Do yourself a favor Fantasy fans!
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pen21 More than 1 year ago
I finished this book and loved it. It is well written and drew me into the story and the characters at a perfect pace. Arki the scribe is a good narrator as we see the story through his eyes. I will be watching for the next book.
trillomene More than 1 year ago
I need to be honest from the start. I love books, but I am not at fantasy reader. To me, the world of LARPing, dressing in medieval clothing and adopting an Ole Englysh accent for a weekend to joust while selling roasted turkey legs and dancing to lute music seems, well, an escape from reality taken a little too seriously. I will not line up to be a serving wench at the next Renaissance Faire in town, but Salyards has convinced me that fantasy literature is worth the time. And perhaps wearing a corset or two isn't out of the question. I actually pre-ordered the book for by brother as a Christmas present, noted its arrival on my doorstep in May, and innocently thought I'd skim a few pages before handing it off. I ended up reading the whole thing, hijacking the gift without remorse. I entered into scribe Arki's world, his narration and recording of a mysterious journey with Captain Killcoin's troupe, and I wanted to know more. The use of a scribe as the narrator is clever: the plot and discovery unfolds just enough to leave one to want more questions answered, leading us through Arki's observations as though we are he, as though we are there. We learn of the caste system of the Syldoon, the Grass Dogs, the Hornmen, and the elusive and feared Memoridon. We also learn of the dark underbelly of the mystery and the bloodiness of battle. I admit, I'm a woman, an usually not into war scenes and books about battles. But this one, yes, this one, I was nervously crouched reading through the chase of horses, the blood and gore, the flails flailing, the swords poised, and afraid of just who might become a casuality. Salyards creates a believable world, one that comes alive for me, one that I see easily. The characters gain shape and color as the story unfolds. There are a few subtle anachronisms, but the kingdoms are real, guts and all. I also appreciate the humor laced in the darkness, just enough to lighten the mood slightly, but not make the book comical. Salyards does this well. While I was converted to reading this type of literature, I do caution the foul language and adult situations are not appropriate for "delicate" readers. Don't give this book to your 13-year-old to read. It might be a little randy for virgin eyes. The second installment is anticipated in another year. Hurry up! The first book ended on a very precipitous note: I am teetering on the edge to find out what happens next! I highly recommend Scourge of the Betrayer to anyone who wants well-written adventure, with the anticipation there will be more to come! Bravo, Salyards. Brilliant debut.
eihort More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this one... it felt different from most fantasy novels. The end seemed a little abrupt, but it wasn't a big deal. I look forward to reading the next in the series.
Nwad42 More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of fantasy fiction for a long time and I've read more than my share of books that make me say "Oh, this author has clearly read Tolkien / Brooks / Eddings / etc." This is NOT one of those books. This is a first-person narrative (normally not a big fan, loved this one) told by a guy who is basically an observer to a situation and characters he doesn't fully understand. His boss is a mysterious captain of vicious soldiers on an unclear mission. Arki, the narrator, knows only what he is told and as a result, that's all the reader gets. Very effective method of rolling out the mysterious plot that is primarily a character study. The characters are well-developed, the dialogue is great, and while one probably shouldn't like the main character (who is not Arki, it's Arki's boss, Braylar Killcoin), he's very likeable. He's multi-dimensional and while he's brutal and cold-blooded, he's also decidedly sympathetic in some ways. Can't wait to read the next one in the series. If you're a fan of military fantasty fiction, medieval soldiery, or great characters, pick it up. It stays with you and makes you think.
HarlanDewey More than 1 year ago
I often ask myself what it is about Game of Thrones that makes it so fascinating. Thanks to Jeff Salyards, i now understand: It's the intimacy. In spite of the epic scope, each chapter has the feel of one person, in over their head. Mr. Salyards has taken that idea, and whittled it down. There are epic goings-on in the empire, but we are only privy to the views of a scribe, challenged with telling the story, reporting what he sees and thinks, but never gaining full insight or understanding. We are forced to stumble down the path with Arky, watching plots within plots unfurl themselves in front of our eyes as we try to piece together the full tapestry. Even more than that, though, is the power of the gritty realism of the fight scenes. These are not the "one man defeats 50 fiends" battles of other fantasy worlds. Heroes hurt, bleed and die in battle, and friends are lost. Salyards' deft touch at creating characters that are both off-putting an endearing at the same time lends an even harsher reality to the violence; fortunately, his sense of humor underlying everything also makes it tolerable and fascinating, like watching a man laugh his way to the gallows. Hopefully, the arc will continue to a conclusion that meets the promise of the initial swing of the flail.
CPerny More than 1 year ago
The fact that I enjoyed this novel doesn't surprise me, just the extent to which I did. I've got a real taste for militaristic, dark fantasy, and "Scourge of the Betrayer" definitely satisfied me on that count. I really appreciated the fact that Salyards' writing style was descriptive and aesthetically pleasing without completely sounding out of character for Arki. Speaking of which, Arki, the narrator, is possibly my favorite part of the whole book; Salyards' choice to write the blood-soaked quest from the point of view of a borderline cowardly, gentle-hearted scribe really sets this book apart from others in the genre. I've seen Salyards compared to Joe Abercrombie a lot, and I don't think that comes down just to their penchant for very gritty fantasy (although that is a definite similarity between the two)--Salyards, like Abercrombie, excels at crafting three-dimensional, true-to-life characters that live in a world which is believable, yet steeped in elements of the fantastic. I was enjoyed the first half of the book; like I said, Salyards' writing style and characters are nice to read in and of themselves, but the second half of the novel, the plot and character histories really pick up and fall into place. It was really great.