What Remains of Heroes by David Benem

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I checked out this book since it was in last years finals and did fairly well, overall I liked it and would recommend it to people who like multi pov epic fantasy


Plot:

The opening scene was with one of the main POV’s, Lannick, drunk in a bar and chasing after women he shouldn’t be. One of his friends tries to talk him out of it, but Lannick isn’t having it and ends up going home with the women anyway. As it turns out, one of them is the daughter of a general, a general who happens to already despise him. They of course get caught and Lannick has to hide out before he’s caught and arrested and likely killed.

He does get caught but manages to escape, and the rest of his story is sort of a redemption story. He used to be a captain in the army, well respected and had his shit together. He was accused of treason and had his wife and children killed and it’s been haunting him ever since. He drinks too much, gained a lot of weight and was generally pretty bad off. Through the course of the book he learns to stand on his feet again and plans on taking his revenge on the general who’s made his life a living hell. The general isn’t just shitty towards Lannick either – there’s more going on with the general being involved in really dark stuff. General Fane wasn’t upset that his daughter was sleeping with someone, he was upset she was no longer a virgin because she wouldn’t make a good sacrifice anymore. He’s trying to help bring back dark gods and he needs to be stopped.

Fencress and Kranag are both assassins for hire, and they’ve been solicited to kill the Lector, who’s the highest level of a priest that there is. When they succeed, the Lectors dead body utters some words in a language no one’s heard – there was more to him than there appeared to be and it really messed up Kranag. Ever since the murder he’s been going crazier and crazier – the people in his group are beginning to think he’s not worth the trouble and they should ditch him before he gets them in too much trouble. Kranag can’t seem to wrangle in the need to kill people and is doing it so haphazardly they’re bound to get caught. Fencress and Kranag go way back, and herstorylinee is trying to help her friend back to sanity.

Bale is a priest in the order that the Lector belonged to, and his journey has a lot to do with lost lore and secrets about Sentinals – old heroes that have since been cast out and banned from the realm.

Gamghast is another older priest who’s trying to help the Queen conceive, she’s been through 8 miscarriages and is pregnant for the 9th time. Her husband is known as the Mad King – but the lore suggests that only people from this heritage can be the High King, and without an heir things could get really messy.

Outside of the POVs main arcs there’s the Spider King who’s amassing an army of Necrists and is planning on marching on the kingdom soon.

Final Score: 7/10


 

Characters

  • Lannick is a sad sack at the beginning of the book, and he goes through some pretty terrible things that mess him up even more. Necrists come to him with the skins of his children and wife stitched onto their own faces and try to abduct him. He’s a “Veridan” and he has a lot of secrets the Necrists desperately want, and they tend to flay the skins off their victims while they still live. By the end of everything he’s getting up the resolve to be a leader again.
  • Bale is an anti social recluse who finds even the briefest social encounter to be uncomfortable. He sort of learns to get over that through the course of the book but he never becomes a confident character. He always thinks of himself as a ‘weak vessel’ and prays constantly for strength to help him through. He’s found a lot of deep secrets and has to get the knowledge into the right hands.
  • Fencress –  she’s known for her wit, and knows how to kill a man quickly. She’s good at her job and doesn’t seem to hold any sort of remorese – but she’s oddly relateable. I think that’s due to her deep loyalty to her friend Kranag, she puts herself in a lot of danger and risks a lot to try and help him through his madness

Final Score: 7/10 


World Building

  • Necrists can use shadows to transport themselves through the living world, they can smell peoples shadows and remember who they are making running from them difficult. They are twisted and terrible looking and torture people they’ve captured.
  • Sentinals were one of the Seven Greatest Heroes in the realm and thought to be long gone. In another era they were in service to the High Kings, but they were fabled to have conspired against the throne, seeking to depose the kings and take over the realm for themselves – so they were cast out and banished. But, not all the characters believe that story.
  • High Kings are blessed by Iliene and are bound to serve as the royal lines – a break in the royal line could be disastrous
  • Veridans have protective ‘codas’ that can allow them to hide themselves and protect themselves from necrists.
  • There are lots of demons and monsters and ‘garghul’ like things that the characters encounter from time to time

Final Score: 8/10


Pacing/Prose/Tone:

The tone was kind of adventurous and kind of dark – the backstories to many of the characters are messed up and what happens to them later isn’t any lighter. But, there was enough lighter moments in the book to keep it from getting that dark.

Pacing was pretty decent, there was a different sort of focus for each character so it kept things moving pretty quickly.

Pacing Final Score: 8/10

Writing Final Score: 8/10


Originality:

I’ve seen a lot of these elements used before, but they were combined in a way that it didn’t feel like I had already read a book very similar to this.

Final Score: 7/10 


Audience:

  • For people who like multi pov epic fantasy
  • For people who like grey characters
  • For people who like ancient lore/lost knowledge
  • For people who like troubled characters
  • For people who like older characters
  • For people who like lots of demons and magic

Final Score: 45/60 or 7.5/10

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