Fantasia Reviews Brutal: An Epic Grimdark Fantasy

Brutal by James Alderdice

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Ages 16+

Published 7/11/2017

About the Book – A Dark Fantasy Like Few Others

“A man of violence. A duchess with dangerous desires. Two warring wizards. Things in Aldreth are going to get Brutal.

A man known only as the Sellsword has come to the border city of Aldreth, where rival wizards struggle for control of a weak-willed duke. Amidst murderous conspiracies and a scandal plagued dynasty, the Sellsword plays all sides to his advantage, bringing about a full-scale gang war between the two ambitious and unscrupulous men, while wooing the reckless and willful duchess.

Though corrupt paladins, demonic adepts, and a surprisingly formidable assassin stand between the Sellsword and the unwholesome truth, spells and blades might not be what take the Sellsword down. It could be plain old bad luck…

BRUTAL is an powerful sword and sorcery tale with colorful characters and wit straight out of a 80’s flick. If you like humor in your pulp, gritty heroes, despicable villains and grimdark fantasy then you’ll love this riveting debut by James Alderdice.
Grab a copy now!” – Publisher Blurb

The Review – A Dark and Riveting Ride

Brutal Cover

We do our best to review without any preconceived notions, but this book brings some with it just through the title. Brutal: An Epic Grimdark Fantasy. That is a heck of a name, how could it possibly live up to the hype it generates? Well, it does. From the get-go, opening on a jagged mountain pass, it has the traditional ‘too cool for school’ hero done right, thrust into a situation of danger and intrigue. A ride that starts fast never loosens its grip, creating a relatively long story that you will likely read in a single sitting.

A lesser writer could not have pulled this off. As great as Brutal is, it would not have been half as good if it was not crafted by the deft hand of Mister Alderdice. It is his writing, his talent, breathes life into this bleak and terrible world. He is long winded when he needs to be, but pithy the majority of the time, bringing in just the information necessary to move the story along and paint the picture and nothing more. The dialogue is fun and witty, as promised by the blurb. Every time we think Mister Alderdice has overpromised, he delivers.

The Bright Side – Truly Brutal

Brutal is, as described, brutal, and it is a heck of a lot of fun to read. While not hard hitting like some dark fantasies (looking at you Valguard) it delivers what it promises, a journey through a gritty world, populated by people gnawing and clawing for their piece of it. The Sellsword is not the most believable character, but he was never supposed to be. We couldn’t help but picture some 80’s action star playing the role, and it felt like a perfect fit. What makes Brutal work is Mister Alderdice’s self-awareness in setting expectations.

The Rating – Solid A

Mister Alderdice, aka David J. West, has delivered a pulpy and fun adventure. He gives us violence, wit, and leaves us yearning for more. Without a doubt, this is the best dark fantasy we have read this year. We love writers who deliver what they promise, and you get that here. While this is not a book for everyone, if you love Robert E. Howard, you will find this little gem to be well worth the price.

Do you want to read Brutal? You can find it on Amazon.