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REVIEW: 'The Huntsman's Amulet' by Duncan M. Hamilton



Alone in a foreign land, Soren must come to terms with loss and a gift that has been as much a burden as a benefit.

A long abandoned city may hold the answers he seeks about the Gift of Grace, but a lethal assassin proves that old enemies have not forgotten him.

As misfortune pulls him ever farther from an unsettled score, he finds hope in an unexpected place…

The Huntsman's Amulet follows The Tattered Banner and is the second part of the Society of the Sword trilogy.








REVIEW:

As the second part of the Society of the Sword trilogy, The Huntsman's Amulet picks up where The Tattered Banner left off and doesn't waste any time getting underway.   Though he is hunted by an assassin put on his trail by his enemy in the first novel, Soren stays mostly unaware of the pursuit as he goes from adventure to adventure searching for his lost love.  The novel's pace doesn't offer you much of a chance to breath as Soren explores a mysterious haunted city hoping to find out more about his power, hunts down pirates, and finally heads to attempt a rescue of the woman he loves.

The world of the Society of the Sword is viewed mostly from Soren's point-of-view, only a step removed from being told in first person.  It offers up a world that feels fleshed out, but only offered up piece by piece to the reader through Soren's eyes.  So far, I've really enjoyed the rapier/pirate fantasy world Hamilton has created, offering a break from much of the typical fantasy worlds you come across, or even the atypical worlds springing up in flintlock fantasy and steampunk.  It falls in between and offers something that feels both different and familiar. 
Outside of Soren's "gift" there is very little magic in the novel, manifesting only physically through Soren, and seen only otherwise in glimpses when he searches an abandoned city hoping to learn about his gift.  The island also was my biggest issue, with some unexplained behavior from the man he meets there, that I'm hoping gets explained in the future.  The Huntsman's Amulet does offer just a bit more explanation of his power, giving the reader an idea of the limits, but there still seems to be more left to learn in the final volume.

Much like The Tattered Banner, the pacing of the novel is fast and often takes you in directions you wouldn't have predicted.  It was refreshing to visit with pirates and foreign lands, and through Soren's eyes it brings you into those worlds slowly, allowing you to wrap your head around the new cultures as the character does the same.  Hamilton does a great job squeezing information about the world, the cultures, and the characters into a story that rarely slows down to take in the scenery.

The novel ends much as it begins - quickly.  Though he does wrap up all of the plot pieces introduced in the novel, it doesn't move the overall story dealing with the enemy of the first book forward at all, outside of the assassin.  I actually enjoyed that.  The Huntsman's Amulet wasn't anything I thought it would be and yet, offered the same sense of adventure of The Tattered Banner, not dragging the story down like some middle volumes.


BOTTOM LINE:

I didn't hear as much about The Tattered Banner this year as I expected in fantasy circles, though I was glad to see it made 12 Best Fantasy Novels of 2013 on BuzzFeed.  The Society of the Sword has felt like a hidden gem to me and Hamilton deserves more attention for his work.  If you enjoy fast paced, fantasy adventure stories, like Sullivan's Riyria novels or come from the first person world of urban fantasy like Butcher's Dresden Files you should enjoy Hamilton's work here.




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REVIEW: 'The Tattered Banner' by Duncan M. Hamilton


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