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Book Review: “The Broken Heart of Arelium” by Alex Robins

I thought it was about time that I posted another book review on here…

About the Book:

Over 400 years ago, twelve great warriors united the beleaguered armies of men and scoured the war-torn lands of evil, pushing the enemy back into the underground pits and caverns from whence they came. To ensure their legacy, each of the Twelve founded fortress monasteries to impart their unique knowledge of war and politics to a select few, the Knights of the Twelve.
But now the last of the Twelve have long since passed from history to legend and the Knights, their numbers dwindling, are harbouring a dark and terrible secret that must be protected at all costs.
Merad Reed has spent half his life guarding a great crater known as the Pit, yearning for some escape from the bleak monotony. Then the arrival of Aldarin, one of the few remaining Knights of the Twelve, sets off a chain of cataclysmic events that will change Reed forever.
To the north, Jelaïa del Arelium, heiress to the richest of the nine Baronies, must learn to navigate the swirling political currents of her father’s court if she hopes one day to take his place. But the flickering flames of ambition hide the shadow of an even greater threat.
And deep within the earth, something is stirring.

Book Title: The Broken Heart of Arelium

Author(s): Alex Robins

Series (if applicable): War of the Twelve (Book 1)


Around 3 weeks ago, I realised that I could request review copies through StoryOrigin. I immediately started looking for interesting looking books. The cover for “The Broken Heart of Arelium” caught my attention immediately… because… well… LOOK AT IT!

This is the first time I’d read anything by Alex Robins, so I wasn’t sure what I was letting myself in for, but within the first few pages I was hooked. This has a similar feel to a lot of ‘old school’ fantasy books, so it was right up my street.

Robins drops us slap bang in the middle of the action, introducing us to interesting characters and monsters from the very start. The action doesn’t let up from then on, making this a real page turner.

The book largely centres on the story of a siege, and the things our new friends have to do to protect Arelium. Alex Robins’s world building is absolutely top-notch. I wasn’t just reading this story… I was in it! I was right there with them as the greylings attacked…

Speaking of greylings…

I love monsters. If a book or film has monsters in, the chances are high that I’m going to love it. The monsters in “The Broken Heart of Arelium” are no exception. The greylings are creepy, violent and savage, and their exploits feature in many of my favourite scenes from this book. Our little greyling friends are joined by the more powerful threshers… and these guys sound bloody terrifying. The only thing I didn’t like about the threshers was the name. I guess I wanted something with a bit more oomph. I feel like their name should have evoked fear in the hearts of all who spoke it, even if they’d never seen such a being before.

As well as monsters and stellar world building, this book also contains many of the things that I look for in a fantasy tale. There’s political intrigue, secrets, betrayal, and brilliant characters. One of my favourites was Praxis and, given the ending of this book, I think there’s more of him to come in the next book!

This was one of those books that just felt perfect for me, and the only place where I felt like it could have been improved was the way the revelations arrived towards the end. Some of these were pretty big, and it would have been good if there was just a bit more space dedicated to showing them.

Will I be reading the rest of the series? ABSOLUTELY!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

(This is technically a 4.75, but I can’t make the fancy little stars do that)

Get the book!

About the Author:

Alex Robins was born in Norwich, England back when it was still trendy to wear lycra tracksuits and bright pink headbands. Norwich School Library was where he first discovered his love of reading, an old converted undercroft packed to the rafters with books. The first fantasy series he read was The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis & Tracey Hickman, quickly followed by The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and David Eddings’ The Belgariad.

At the age of twelve Alex moved across the channel to Nantes in France. Speaking very little French, the first few years were difficult and sometimes lonely as he scrambled to get a grip on the intricate grammar and vocabulary of the French language. His taste in books branched out from epic fantasy to science-fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and historical fiction, but he always came back to his favourite fantasy authors when looking to escape the outside world.

After degrees in agronomy, project management, and computer sciences, Alex founded his own company dedicated to online voting. He met his wife during a game of badminton and they spent several years getting trounced in various regional tournaments before getting married. Alex now lives in the sunny Loire Valley in western France, surrounded by imposing castles, sprawling vineyards, and two children. After reading fantasy books for the last thirty years he decided to write one. The Broken Heart of Arelium is his first novel, and the first in the War of the Twelve series.

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