#SPFBO5 Book Review - THE 19TH BLADESMAN by S.J. Hartland

(Title: The 19th Bladesman / Author: S.J. Hartland / Publisher: Self-Published / Publication Date: November 21, 2018)

THE 19TH BLADESMAN began as a really intriguing and captivating story for me.  An ancient prophecy foretells that a bladesman will emerge as the only savior of the realm when it is ultimately threatened by a mad god bent on annihilation.  Sounds cool right?  Maybe a little tropey in some respects but the first few chapters piqued my interest and it seemed like the plot was different enough in some respects to separate itself from the usual fantasy books of this style.

Main character Kaell has been trained from a very young age to be the unbeatable force that could vanquish the banished god and save the entire kingdom from destruction.  Kaell is aware of his role in what is to come but really only cares about one thing, and that is gaining the approval of his tutor and master swordsman Val Arques who he idolizes.  Arques has a difficult time trying to impress upon Kaell just how important he is to the future of the realm and its people.

As Kaell is gradually brought up to speed in his training, we see that he has become quite adept in his gifts and at the cusp of being ready to embark on the long journey that will bring him face to face with the event in his life that he was made for.  But the evil forces on the opposite side have ideas of their own as plans are put into motion that call for the assassination of Kaell before he can even get to the eventual day of reckoning..  

Along the way there will be much that Kaell discovers about himself and about the prophesy that was initiated upon his birth.  Will Kaell be strong enough both physically and mentally to fulfill his destiny as the 19th Bladesman?  Or will he be thwarted and the kingdom thrown into an age of darkness never seen before in its history.  Much will be revealed in this absorbing sword and sorcery tale.

I guess the way I would sum up this book in a couple of words is wasted potential.  When I initially began reading THE 19TH BLADESMAN I thought that this could be one of my favorites, if not THE favorite to be a semi-final pick.  Unfortunately it became confusing around the middle chapters for me.  A bunch of characters are introduced (maybe too many) and not enough time was spent moving the story forward for the important ones.  I found myself getting sucked into certain chapters and passages, only to be sidetracked by a few chapters of tangential filler before coming back to the main story arc again.

Having said that, I didn't think it was a bad book by any stretch.  In fact I did enjoy it for the most part.  Hartland's writing is strong and she paints some really cool pictures with words.  There are a number of action scenes that are done particularly well and that I found myself totally enthralled by.  It just lacked a bit of focus that could be attributed to the fact that this is a hefty book with regard to page count.

There is much about the THE 19TH BLADESMAN that will appeal to many fantasy readers in my opinion.  This is not a book that you should shy away from just because it didn't work fully for me.  Impressive writing, action scenes aplenty, and a nice story involving an ancient prophecy make this a solid fantasy book that deserves checking out.  I enjoyed it enough to definitely want to read book 2 when it is released and revisit this world.

(My Rating: 7/10)


  1. Ooh, this sounds good. Is the training a large part of the story? I don't know why, but I really enjoy stories where the characters spend most of it training/studying.

  2. Hello Victoria, I wouldn't say that it's a large part of the story but it is definitely touched on a good amount.

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review the book, Nick! I really appreciate it! I've enjoyed following all your other reviews, too.

  4. ooh, srry that came up as unknown. Kind regards, Susan. !!

  5. Sure thing Susan! I appreciate you commenting on the review!


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