Review of “The Stonegate Sword” by Harry James Fox

25312178This book has a very original mix of genres.  At first, it absolutely feels like medieval historical fiction. Then there are references to “The Old Empire” and scenes with fallen cities and you realize that this is actually a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future world. That made me think, “Huh, interesting,” because I’ve never seen that before.

The characters of Philip, Don, Robert, etc. are pretty likeable. Don, as the main character, is given special attention and has the most fleshed out history as a lore man – which is a cool thing to have in this kind of future – who also becomes an accomplished soldier. As a reader, I sympathized with young Philip immediately, though you then kind of wait around to figure out how these characters are going to come together. Through these two men’s eyes, we learn a lot about this fallen world.

I will say, however, that the women in this book are incredibly flat. Rachel is a “fair maiden” to a tee, but I didn’t care about her at all. The other rescued girls are shallow, scared damsels in distress who serve no other purpose. Then there’s the lady who’s a wicked seductress, which was just weird. Deborah, as an alternative love-interest, is a bit more dimensional, but her leading attribute is literally quoted to be that she is “like a woman with a man’s personality.” …I don’t even know what to say to that.

As for plot, I definitely enjoyed the first half best because it was more character-driven and gave us the kind of journey where we learned about this world. The second half become battle after battle after battle, which wouldn’t be a bad thing except that it seemed like this book could’ve been split in two considering the way the storyline shifts so drastically. Also, the farther I got into the book, the more this medieval future didn’t make sense. It WAS cool that they were able to use the Old Empire’s weapons, but why would everything revert to medieval times just because modern technology died? Yes, you’d use horses. Yes, you’d find farming important again. But castles and calling people “lords” and women wearing dresses all the time – why would we revert that far?

I was nervous about the bad guys being in the camp of “The Prophet,” with the good guys often being Christian. But, fortunately there’s a disclaimer at the end saying this religion isn’t intended to reflect any religion now but rather the “corruption and perversion of some 21st Century beliefs.” THAT I’m okay with because the religious tensions in this story add a believable layer to the story.

If you’re up for a long adventure story with horses and swords and nicely written descriptions, go for it.

3 Stars See it on Amazon!

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