Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Cost of Betrayal: The Half Orcs Book II by David Dalglish

David Dalglish's tale of the twin half-orcs, one muscular swordsman who wields two sabers, Salvation and Condemnation, and his punny, raspy-voiced spell casting brother with a flaming whip, continues in The Cost of Betrayal.

Unlike the first cover, I'm not a fan of this one. It's not the structure, but rather, the winged demon woman's feet. Their too elongated or too wide or just out of step with the rest of the illustration. Outside of that critique, it's a solid piece and another fine example of Peter Ortiz work.
Having lost their master, Velixar, an ancient nearly immortal being who serves a dark god in the last volume, the twins, now with the elf wizard Aurelia in tow, return to their home city. Valderen is a city that they were banished for originally because they had elf blood. Velixar managed to stir the pot between elf and human.

But with Aurelia with them, she's able to illusion them into the city. Where they are promptly attacked by a group of adventurers! This small guild of allies is known as the Eschaton, named so after the brother and sister duo's last name.

Folks, I'm telling you, if David Dalglish isn't a role playing or doesn't play role-playing games, or isn't a huge fan of fantasy, he's writing sure reads like it.  These mercenaries take the trio in and act as a patron, mentors, friends, and allies. During that time, Aurelia and Harruq declare their love for one another and even marry,

Qurrah on the other hand, well, he's not quite as happy. While he's glad to not be eating the lowest of the low foods, and he's pleased to have a roof over his head, and even more, to be with his twin again, he finds himself not quite as pleased as his brother.

This leads him to wander the city of Valderen and find Tessanna. If Aurelia and Velixar were powerful characters than Tessanna is literally on another level. She's a self-harmer with numerous psychotic breaks but thanks to her charm and her power, she easily wraps Qurrah around her finger.

Plots build up and more background of the setting comes forth. The different relationship between Harruq and Aurelia is played against that of Qurrah and Tessanna till eventually the brothers part on less than ideal terms.

I haven't read too many other books by David, but from rumblings, it seems that the thieves war bits in this volume run into another one of David's series, the Shadowdance series, which would make sense as Harruq's teacher is Haern the Watcher, another high-powered individual in a world of high-powered individuals.

If you're looking for a quick high action read, The Cost of Betrayal is better then the first volume and expands the setting considerably while setting up the third volume.