Book Review: ‘The Broken Heart of Arelium’ by Alex Robins

Genre: Epic fantasy

Description: This is Alex Robins first novel, and the first in a series of four (over arching title ‘War of the Twelve’). This one was published in March 2021, the fourth in June 2022. All have been brought out by Bradypus Publishing.

It is not giving away anything you won’t discover in the first few pages that the McGuffin is several vast, mysterious Pits, which are rigorously guarded for reasons long forgotten. As you might expect, it becomes all too apparent early doors why the Pits have been guarded for centuries, and the action kicks off from there.

This has the sort of pace and structure that make me think the author is a keen video-gamer. Such gamers are its target readership.

Author: Alex Robins was born in Norwich, England. His family moved to France when he was 12. He was by then already into The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis & Tracey Hickman, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, and David Eddings’ The Belgariad, and epic fantasy continued to be his go-to genre as made a place for himself in a strange land. He now lives in the sunny Loire Valley in western France, surrounded by imposing castles, sprawling vineyards, and two children. He has degrees in agronomy, project management, and computer sciences.

Appraisal: Battle after battle is fought against overwhelming forces; the piles of the slain grow; new combatants are added on both sides; serious wounds are overcome with a mug of ale and a bowl of stew; mortal wounds do not prove fatal. The various battles, meetings and dialogues are ably described so that it is clear what is going on with the substantial cast of characters of more and less importance. We are given a full description of every location and of everybody’s clothing. (People make time to change, at peculiar moments sometimes.)

Once I realised the video-gaming ancestry of this novel it began to grow on me. There is chivalry. There are monsters. There are rites of passage. There is a subtle hint of romance and a substantial whiff of treachery. Towards the end, meaty plot additions are left temptingly on the table to carry the book on into the second in the series (The Ashen Hand of Kessrin).

The author obviously knows his mediaeval battle armour (in our own world) and it gets a fair amount of space. If you don’t know your greaves from your gambesons you soon will. My dictionary admitted defeat pretty quickly. Just go with the flow.

*** review originally prepared for Big Al and Pals review website. Received a complimentary soft copy in return for an honest review ***


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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