#SPFBO Healer’s Ruin by Chris O’Mara : Review

Posted On 27 August 2019

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Healer'sHealer’s Ruin by Chris O’Mara was one of two books that I chose from my second batch of SPFBO books to continue reading.  This was a very quick read, at just under 200 pages I had no problem with making fairly short work of this and it was entertaining and quite different in some respects.

Basically, this is a story of war.  The North vs The South, and the bulk of the story takes place on or around the battlefield.  This is a bit like taking one of the major campaigns from any epic fantasy story but then focusing on just a small element.  I liked this as it allows a much more intense story to play out in terms of characters and even though there’s plenty of bloodshed and people dying left, right and centre, because you’re not really reading about the bigger picture it doesn’t become quite as bleak as it could do.

The main character of the story is Chalos.  Far from being the hero of the piece Chalos is a magic wielder, a slinger, but his talent lies in the arts of healing rather than dealing out death.  He usually follows the army wielding magic after the battle concludes and healing those who survived but sustained injuries in the process.   Chalos is healer to the Black Talons, fearsome Krune warriors who fight for the Ten Plains King.

A bit of background.  The Ten Plains King rules the South.  As the story begins we discover that the King has sailed North and waged war.  For three months the King’s powerful mages, accompanied by the might of his armies, have carved a path through the Rilm army.  It seemed like the North had no resistance to offer (other than numbers) and yet the South were still not victorious.  Then, unexpectedly, a hero from the North stepped up and wielding magic, the likes of which had never been seen before, wiped out a huge swathe of the southern vanguard.  The surviving Gilt Plates were forced to take cover in the Dallian Woodland  and the Black Plates, accompanied by Chalos and one of the other mages, Samine – the Dread Spear,  are being sent into the forest to recover and assist the Gilt Plates before heading for the Ruin.  The Ruin is the halfway point between the coast and the capital, it has been deserted for many years, cursed and slowly turning to dust and rubble.  This is where the King intends to establish an operational camp before staging his final push – that doesn’t sound at all ominous does it.

This is new territory for Chalos, for once, he will be heading into the thick of things instead of bringing up the rear in relative safety.  He doesn’t even own a weapon and has no desire to do so.  On top of this, everyone is now aware of this new magical threat and although the Krune are making light of things there is a little more caution in the air and as if a spooky forest and a cursed ruin weren’t bad enough bigger things are afoot.

I enjoyed this.  The writing was confident, the world building was delivered with a light touch, there were elements of the story that I didn’t foresee coming at all and it was entertaining.  Chalos becomes involved with Samine as the story progresses and this new found ‘love’ serves to give him something else to dwell on and push him to greater deeds.

The build up to the battles was good and the author managed to increase the tension with an unexpected twist.

In terms of the characters, I liked Chalos – although in fairness I probably liked his Accomplice more!  Mages are all given a magical Accomplice.  Chalos has a crow called Mysa and she’s a great addition to the story.  The two of them can communicate although nobody else understands her clicks and squawks and in fact that’s the same for all mages and their accomplices.  Samine is the war mage, she strides boldly forth into battle giving the army their magical advantage.  The two become romantically involved but whilst this does serve as a means of giving Chalos a new focus it doesn’t dominate the story.  The other character that I liked here was Lieutenant Jolm who leads the Black Plates.

In terms of criticisms.  I think this could have been a little longer.  Even though the focus is more concentrated I didn’t feel like I had as good a grip on Chalos as I would have liked.  I also felt there was a bit of a missed opportunity in terms of the forest and the ruin – I would have liked to feel a little bit more menace from both.  And, the ending was a bit rushed.  I did wonder how the author would wrap things up and to be honest I think the ending is quite good in some respects, it just felt over very quickly and considering some of the events I would have liked a little more emotion.

Small issues aside  I had a good time reading this.  Quick and entertaining.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.  The above is my own opinion.