Saturday, May 4, 2019

Review: Devlin's Justice is an only okay ending to the Sword of Change trilogy (SPOILERS)

Click the links to read my reviews for the first two books, Devlin's Luck and Devlin's Honor.

First off, let's talk about that cover. The only thing accurate about the cover (besides the title, author's name and such, obviously) is the Sword of Light, which matches the description of it in Devlin's Honor. Everything else isn't remotely accurate, including the blurb. "His own magic"? Aside from the Geas spell that binds him to his duties as Chosen One, Devlin has no magic whatsoever. I feel like whoever did the cover didn't read the book beforehand. But that's just the cover, let's talk about the book itself.

It's only okay. Going by the blurb on the back of the book, I was expecting a lot of excitement, drama, and adventure. Unfortunately, expectations slammed into reality like a race car into a wall at 190 miles per hour. Devlin's Justice felt rushed, as if Ms. Bray was just trying to get the thing done and out the door or she was trying to meet a specific word or page count. As a result, a lot of meat was left on the bone. There were so many ways the story could have been expanded or enhanced and none of them were used.

Before I go on, let me tell you what happens in this book. Devlin is returning to Kingsholm after successfully retrieving the Sword of Light in the previous book. Upon returning, he's betrayed by King Olafur of Jorsk and handed over to the Selvarat Empire as part of their deal to send "aid" to help the Kingdom of Jorsk stave off an invasion by an unknown enemy, along with like a third of the kingdom itself as it turns out. So Devlin spends a good chunk of the book imprisoned and tortured by the main antagonist while his friends believe him dead and struggle to find a way to save the kingdom from both the Selvarats (who, "shocker", are the unknown enemy) and the king himself. Four of them - Drakken, Stephen, Didrik, and Oluva - are forced to escape the city and go in search of Devlin once they discover that he is in fact still alive. Devlin eventually escapes, joins up with the others and the rest of the book is them leading a guerrilla campaign against the occupying Selvarat forces and setting things to right.

All of that sounds exciting, but as I said, a lot of meat was left on the bone and what we got instead didn't live up to the potential. For example, there's never an explanation given for why King Olafur did anything he did. Yes, he was led to believe that there was a major threat to the kingdom and yes he had a big legacy to live up to, but betraying Devlin and giving away a huge chunk of the kingdom for aid just doesn't make any sense and there was no indication that he was being manipulated by the Prince Arnauld, the main antagonist of the series or anybody else for that matter. It also doesn't explain his slide into despotism which is both sharp and sudden.

There are other examples I could point out but I don't want this post to run too long, so we'll leave off them. The other thing that I found disappointing is the lack of a big finish. I was expecting to see Devlin and Arnauld face off in a big fight, but it never happened. It was a letdown given that Arnauld was the mind-sorcerer that had been plaguing Devlin since the first book. Instead, he's brushed off like some mid-level villain and we're denied the payoff that should have been.

The ending was also lackluster as it felt rushed. Olafur commits suicide just before Devlin arrives back at Kingsholm to confront him and Devlin names himself regent until Olafur's daughter is old enough to rule in her own right. He also marries Stephen's sister which comes straight out of left field and makes about as much sense as Olafur's actions. Devlin also secures the independence of his homeland of Duncaer which I liked.

All in all, I found Devlin's Justice a letdown. It had a lot of potential that was largely squandered. I would rank it as the weakest of the trilogy.

Rating: 5/10.

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