The Blade Within (Raike #1) by Jackson Lear


The BladeThe Blade Within is one of the titles on my list of books for the fifth SPFBO competition and was one of the books that I decided to roll forward after having read the first 30% with the idea of reading and reviewing fully.  In this respect I have 1 more review to follow which I’m hoping will be in fairly quick succession followed by a post to reveal my semi finalists and the book I will be taking to stage two of the competition.  So, straight to my review of The Blade Within.

I have to say from the outset that The Blade Within was very entertaining and a quick read,  I was always keen to get back to the story in fact I was more than eager to pick it back up.

The central character is called Raike.  Raike is not a character that you really want to meet at the dead of night in a dark alley.  Although that being said he’s not quite as bad as he likes to make out.  I guess you could call him a diamond in the rough.  He’s part of a mercenary gang who wields magic.   This is a book that is very territorial.  Any gangs wandering into another gangs area – it doesn’t go down well – and Raike is about to enter just about everyone’s territory and bring down a lot of trouble in the process.

As the story begins a young girl has disappeared from an orphanage.  You could be forgiven for thinking she ran away – but there was a note (not from the girl herself) – and a strange ghostly appearance only nights before that seemed to single her out for attention.  Raike appears on the scene.  He makes enquiries and receives answers.  He knows things are rotten in Denmark and is determined to try and find the girl.  This is personal.

Okay, I will just step back a little.  Raike was himself an orphan, he lived at the very orphanage that this young girl went missing from, and a number of years ago a young girl, that he was very attached to, also went missing, and the same, or very similar, note seemed to accompany her disappearance.  The whole experience never truly left Raike, he left the orphanage and took up with a band of mercenaries, learning magic in the process and now here he is, with history repeating itself.  The problem is.  Raike has been renamed, his past his behind him and to return to such things places not only himself, but all his comrades in danger.  But, Raike isn’t the only orphan determined to bring this young girl back and pretty soon he has a small band of his comrades out investigating.

I won’t go further into the plot other than to say that this is a mystery story with a dose of fantasy thrown in.

The world here, in fact the characters too, feel a little generic.  If you read quite a bit of fantasy I don’t think this will feel like it’s reinventing the wheel in either respect but at the same time it’s very easy to get along with and is actually a very compelling read.  This book has a grimdark feel but I would say on the lower end of the grimdark spectrum – it’s not overly blood thirsty and didn’t make my stomach turn over, there’s banter and cursing but not enough to make your toes curl and overall it seems like a really good mix.

We meet a number of characters.  I’m not going to name them all but I found myself really enjoying the crew that Raike surrounded himself with.  One of the characters in particular is a real charmer and another is strong with magic not to mention incredibly intimidating and a little almost invincible seeming.  Raike himself is like a dog with a bone, he doesn’t always make good decisions but I liked that he wanted to help the underdog here.  He’s not about money or profit more right instead of wrong – even if his methods of achieving that are sometimes dubious.

In terms of criticisms. Well, to be honest, I had only one thing that worried me and I really can’t discuss it in a review because it would definitely be a spoiler.  It’s just something that didn’t sit quite right for me, but of course might differ for other readers.  Of course we’re dealing with a bunch of reprobates here but at the same time, as a reader, I want to be on their side.  I know they’re not perfect characters, but, I’m grasping at whatever straws are thrown my way to make me feel that basically, deep down, badass or not, their bark is worse than their bite, they still have that core of decency even if it’s well hidden.  Now, I’ve probably made that seem worse than it is, it’s one element of the story that just worried away at me and so I couldn’t deny it’s presence but it might not cause that reaction in others.  Did it spoil the read – no.  I still found this a really good story and would definitely read more in the series to see what scrapes Raike gets into next.

Good writing, likable-in-spite-of-themselves-characters and a thriller that intrigued me to the end.

I received a copy courtesy of the author for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




10 Responses to “The Blade Within (Raike #1) by Jackson Lear”

  1. Tammy

    I love the sound of this, Lynn. Thriller combined with good characters is a great combination 😁

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The mix of fantasy and mystery sounds like a good recipe, and I have something of a soft spot for mercenary bands… 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Me too – you should give this a shot. It is very good.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Karen

    Fair review. No idea what was worrying you. I too read this book and absolutely loved it.

    These characters are mercenaries so they aren’t going to be the good guys. The theme through the Raike series is that their basic character type is lawful evil, although Raike definitely sounds like a guy with a good conscience and ultimately tries to do good things – especially in this book where he is acting more like a chaotic neutral. A complex character when you really look at him.

    The plot is interesting and the pace of the book is good – definitely made me want to keep reading.

    Jackson Lear always create novels which cross over many genres – the Raike series is another example of this. You may not be a fan of fantasy but you don’t need to be – although magic is part of this world, it is not the focus of the story. It is more of a thriller / mystery.

    I recommend this book/ this series to a wide variety of readers.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed this and it was definitely in the running for finalist. I did have one thing that didn’t really sit well with me but I’ve not highlighted it and won’t discuss it here because it would be a spoiler.
      Lynn 😀

  4. November : My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Blade Withinby Jackson Lear […]

  5. waytoofantasy

    Great review. Probably not one for me but it seems intriguing still. I like the idea of a mystery in a fantasy setting.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was a very good read. I liked it very much but like you say – probably not for you.
      Lynn 😀

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