The Broken Man
By Hawkings Austin
A Shadow Man is stalking the children of Ard, leaving the dead lying in the forest with their eyes black pits. The people are in a panic, but the investigating Ruad philosophers have no explanation. Seeking someone to blame, the people of the ancient city of Ard demand the head of the most dangerous person in their midst, the giant Waylaid.
Once great among the Fomor—a prince, a sorcerer, a priest, Waylaid has been cast out by his people. He has come to Ard with his Bolg apprentice, Piju, to live quietly and study in Brea’s library. Can he escape the maddened crowed and find the killer without breaking his vow to give up sorcery?
And has he failed to teach his young and impetuous apprentice the most important lesson of them all, that the price of using sorcery is always too high?
"Some nights the shadows just seem too dark..."
It did not matter if Cail, King of the Ruad, believed in spirits or not. The truth was that something sinister was killing the children of Ruad, and there was nothing that Cail could do to stop it.
While King Cail dithered, his people cast their eyes towards the Fomor giant, Waylaid and his young Bolg apprentice, Piju. If this were dark sorcery, then the Fomor was the obvious culprit. But, Waylaid and Piju were under the protection of The Judge of the Daen, and if the people of Ard dared to give in to their anger they would face the wrath of the Blessed Folk, and that was something no wise man wanted to do for the Blessed Folk were born for war.
Ironically, if anyone is to stop these mystery killings, then it would be Waylaid, who unbeknownst to most is the outcast Prince of Fodor. However, Waylaid made a vow never to use his sorcery again. The question is, will Wayliad be able to keep his vow and stop The Shadow Man from taking any more lives? Only time will tell...
From a beautiful spring morning in the land of Pwyer to the desperate battle to defeat a deadly shadow, The Broken Man by Hawkings Austin, is what historical fantasy is all about.
With an intricate plot and a narrative that is as lucid as it is compelling, The Broken Man is the kind of book which gets lovers of historical fantasy very excited. The atmospheric world that Austin has crafted is not only incredibly well-drawn but more importantly, utterly believable. Readers will love the political intrigue and the complex relationships between the different races of people that inhabit this world. The complicated class structure was also elegantly illustrated within the pages of this remarkable book. The City of Ard, where the tension between the Ruad and the enslaved Bolg was depicted with so much care and attention, came to life in all its glory and desperation — depending of course, on which faction Austin was writing about. I felt the abject poverty of the Bolg, and the nervousness of the nobles, who despite being seemingly safe with their considerable wealth, had no defences against a supernatural being. The splendour and the majesty of the Blessed Folk were clearly depicted and mighty to behold.
There are several fascinating protagonists in this story, but my favourite was definitely the wild Bolg, Piju. Piju is a sixteen-year-old hunter whose backstory is terribly tragic. He ends up apprenticed to Waylaid in a moment of unfortunate desperation, and yet, despite Piju's initial reservation, the two of them get on well. Piju is the only free Bolg in the City of Ard, and he will do anything to help his people, but he also has to be careful not to be recognised by the Ruad. When Piju discovers what is happening to the children of the Ruad, he immediately wants to help in any way he can. Piju is a sincere young man who fears the supernatural and his own power of prophecy, but he is very honourable. I liked Piju very much.
Another protagonist that caught my attention was Mistress Brea, Judge of the Daen. Mistress Brea is a very enigmatic character, she radiates power and confidence, but under the facade is a woman who has lost her husband to warfare and will one day face her sons in battle. In matters of war, Mistress Brea is formidable, but she is also an extraordinary judge and diplomat. I thought Mistress Brea's depiction was really rather wonderful.
Waylaid, who is the hero of this tale, is a very complex character. His past is incredibly moving — he is betrayed by someone very close to him, and the life he should have lived has been denied him. Waylaid is a character that keeps his thoughts and his true nature very close to his chest. He does not want to talk about who he was and what had happened. He is, despite being a very enigmatic character, very learned and wise. He has a good relationship with Mistress Brea — there is certainly mutual respect between these two characters, and he gets on well with his young apprentice. He and Piju are two souls who have lost everything, but they find a semblance of normality, a sense of belonging, with each other. Austin has crafted a very believable protagonist in Waylaid.
The paranormal aspect of this story has been well thought out and is, at times, incredibly chilling. The Shadow Man is a dangerous being who feeds on the souls of the innocent, and he is seemingly unstoppable. He is undoubtedly a very formidable antagonist.
There are several flashbacks in this book, which Austin uses to great effect to give the reader a balanced view of some of the characters. I thought this approach worked really well and was certainly insightful.
Austin writes with a compelling style. The Broken Man is quite a long book, but the time just flew by as I lost myself in the world that Austin has created. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Fans of historical fantasy will fall in love with this book and these characters.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.