Reviewed by Fehu
The Gravemen by Melissa North
Less Than 3 Press
3.75 Pants Off
THE BANAM-HIN: An elite
guard of the royal palace and city, they are seldom seen beyond them.
Asdelar is a Blade of marked skill, but also a man who lives
loud—flirtatious, teasing, open and free with affection. Life is not
meant to be dull, even for a Blade.
THE IMALT-WOR: The notorious
strong arms of the king, they maintain his law across the land. They
are highly disciplined, respected and feared. Hinego is as strict in his
personal life as he is maintaining the king's law. He has no time or
patience for careless wastrels.
Forced to work together to locate the king's missing niece, neither man sees the journey ending in anything but disaster.
Sweet and entertaining fantasy novel and I found a new author that I'd like to see more stories from in the future.
Hinego is part of a police force at least the equivalent of it in this fantasy setting and he at least appeared quite capable and interested in doing his job and the mission the king sent him to fulfill. Unfortunately for him the partner he was forced to take with him was from the king’s elite army force and Asdelar didn't really prove himself until the end.
I thought it was somewhat strange that the king would only send two men, in the search for his favorite niece, but one of them was very good at his job. Even drunk Hinego managed to defeat 4 attackers, while Asdelar just lay there and watched. I'd like to say that he was much of help in other instances, but he really wasn't. Mostly he annoyed Hinego and flirted a lot. He wasn't a character that I really liked, but he actually did manage to show some skill at the end, I'd count that as character development.
What I liked to see was how these characters, who begun their journey on quite hostile terms, found their way to each other. Hinego slowly warmed up to Asdelar and it would have been fantastic if the story was longer and I could have seen them work on their relationship back in the city.
The beginning was quite promising, had all that fun hostility and good tension, it drew me in, but sadly the middle wasn't as good, but the pace and story picked up at the end and made up for it. What I would have liked to see is more world building, some more explanations to history and culture. The Blades and The Reds were introduced and that's it, I would have liked to know more, about the kingdom in general. Of course the story wasn't all that long, which might explain why there wasn't more world building. It took time for Hinego to understand his own feelings for Asdelar and actually let him in, there was a reason for his reluctance and I wish it wasn't just mentioned at the end.
Should You Read It? If you like character driven stories with a fantasy setting and don't mind slow burn. I enjoyed reading the story and I read through it in one session, so it is an easy, nice read, with good dialogs and well written. The characters are the heart of the story and I liked it a lot that they didn't fall into each other arms after the first chapter.