Dark Blade

Bloomsbury. (Whispers of the Gods: Bk. 1). Sept. 2020. 352p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781408873397.
Gr 6 Up–Lann was raised to be a cattle farmer, until the day monsters tore through his family home, changing his future forever. Lann becomes the wielder of the Dreadblade, an ancient sword with a mind of its own, determined to kill all the monsters it can find. Lann’s new sword and strange visions send him and his magical guardian Fleya on a quest to save their kingdom. The king has been murdered, his son is on trial for the king’s death, and Princess Astrid is tenuously trying to hold her country together and save her brother’s life. Evil is stirring across the six kingdoms, and only Lann and his sword have the power to save their world. Feasey crafts a detailed universe filled with magic, swordplay, and mythology. While the fast-paced plot, decent character development, and world-building keep readers engaged, overall, this feels disappointingly male-centered and short on diversity. While strong female characters exist and play vital roles, the focus is clearly on two young white boys and their very different coming-of-age stories. Glimpses into the abusive childhood of the young villain, Kelewulf, make him the more interesting character, but his journey from an angry and hurt child to a world-destroying monster isn’t fleshed out enough to quite make sense.
VERDICT A satisfactory fantasy book for readers who enjoyed Lloyd Alexander’s “The Chronicles of Prydain” and John Flanagan’s “Ranger’s Apprentice,” this serves as a good filler for fantasy-hungry readers but falls short in diversity and brings nothing new to the genre.

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