#SPFBO Review : By the Pact (Pacts Arcane and Otherwise #1) by Joanna Maciejewska 

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By the Pact by Joanna Maciejewska is the fourth book from my Third Batch of books. My update post will be up soon and I shall be posting further information about my final three books asap.   My reviews so far are linked below and you can find feedback from my first and second batch of books here and here and further information on SPFBO here.

Bythepact

By the Pact is a tale of demons and mages, sand and sorcery, I confess that I liked the way the author turns certain tropes on their head a little and I also found myself connecting quite well with the central duo.

As the story begins we step into a sort of Indiana Jones type adventure with two characters searching the desert for an old ruin and a valuable artefact.  Of course, you could be forgiven for immediately suspecting traps and trickery and you’d be spot on, up to a point – however, this particular trap has been laid by a demon. Imprisoned many years ago by archmages and believed to be dead by the majority of the world following a cataclysmic event, Veranesh is very much alive and not entirely happy at having spent the last few centuries entombed in crystal beneath the sand. The only way for the two to escape alive, albeit a temporary reprieve, is for one of them to make a pact.  Ultimately Veranesh wants freedom but how can anyone justify releasing the very monster who caused such widespread death and destruction?  Regardless, a pact is formed and the two main characters buy themselves a little time in which to think up a Plan B.

Now, I would point out that as I started this I felt a little overwhelmed at first, well, perhaps not overwhelmed so much as in the dark a little.  There were lots of references about past events, mages, highmages, archmages, demons and their ranks not to mention arcanists and mage killers.  So, yes, at first I was trying to figure out all the whys and wherefores at the same time as wondering if I was being incredibly dim witted.  As it happens, I think that you simply have to run with this because the author does a great job in gradually bringing you up to speed with the world, the characters and the demons and their own hierarchy – so, be patient.

The two central characters are Kamira, who potentially gave up a promising career as a highmage following a dispute with one of her teachers and turned instead onto the path of the arcanist and her friend and adventuring partner Veelk who is a very capable warrior and mage killer. Alongside this there are a couple of other plotlines involving certain characters.  A queen whose lands have been taken over by an army of demons following an unlikely pact between four stronger demons who has been forced to flee and seek refuge.  Her people have become dependent on magic that they thought kept them protected, they’re also addicted to the essence of magic that has been constantly available to them through a structure or relic that is now destroyed.  The other storyline involves one of the Archmages who seeks power and is constantly trying to manipulate those around him.  As these three storylines develop the nature of the demons and the role they play is revealed and it definitely turns things on their head a little in a rather surprising way.

I found By the Pact very easy to read.  I may have got off to a slightly hesitant start but as the story progressed I found myself forming attachments to the two central characters.  They have clearly been on a lot of adventures together and obviously care about each other and this comes through in their banter.  I also really appreciated the twist on the demon trope.  Don’t get me wrong – the demons are still, well, demonic, but at the same time they have their reasons for behaving the way they do, the pacts they form are usually beneficial to both parties and there is a well thought out element to why humans really need them (probably more so than the reverse). That’s not to say I’d be rushing to make any pacts myself but I think what basically comes to light is that, as with any race there are elements of good and bad and so whilst I wouldn’t say that you’re going to get any soft and fluffy demons here you do encounter those that live by a certain code of conduct – (although even those might rip your arms and legs off if you annoy them too much). Just saying.

In terms of the pacing.  Well, certainly this seemed to gather in strength as the story got underway.  The author steadily adds layer by layer to the characters.  We find a little more of their back stories and definitely in terms of Kamira her character arc was really quite pleasing as certain traits were teased out of her.  Veelk was perhaps a little less well drawn.  He came across like a Conan the Destroyer type warrior, hench, rushing into the fray with a smile on his face like a killing machine and womanising on his days off.  I didn’t dislike him, I enjoyed the friendship he shared with Kamira but he was a little bit predictable. Veranesh? Well, I ‘m not going to say I liked him – he’s a demon, can you really trust him? I mean, your basic definition of ‘demon’ is ‘an evil spirit or devil’ – however, he definitely added a certain something here even if I don’t buy into his ‘nicey-nicey’ side.

Criticisms.  Well, a slightly slow start whilst I was getting used to all the dynamics. One of the central characters could use a little more fleshing out, but, I think the only issue I really encountered was quite a number of mistakes or perhaps typos.  I mentioned in a previous review that I don’t usually mention such things but this one felt like it needed another once over with a red pen and whilst it didn’t spoil the read I think it could very easily annoy other readers.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.

  1. Deathborn by CE Page
  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts
  5. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
  6. Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks
  7. Book of Secrets by Claudia Blood
  8. Dragonbirth by Raina Nightingale
  9. Carrion by Alyson Tait
  10. Iarraindorn by Phil Dickens
  11. Rising Shadows (The Pillar of Creation, #1) by Phillip Blackwater 

One Response to “#SPFBO Review : By the Pact (Pacts Arcane and Otherwise #1) by Joanna Maciejewska ”

  1. Tammy

    I’m intrigued by the idea of making pacts with a Demon. This sounds pretty good😁

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