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on 1 March 2017
I was asked to read this book for an honest review, so this is what I think...

The characters in this fantasy tale are what make it an excellent read, that and the philosophical debate about 'the truth' (I don't give spoilers).

Carrying on from book one, the group of travellers battle various enemies as they continue their quest, but it is the character development and relationships that are most interesting...although Vashni is my favourite because of who she is, her talents, her bravery and her determination not to be what others expect.

There are secrets revealed and, I expect, more to come as the adventure continues, however, it will be fascinating to see the plot development and how the questions are answered.

Well-written and entertaining.

Recommended.
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on 17 June 2014
4.5 stars

This book surprised me in a lot of ways. Usually by the time I get to the second book in a series, I feel like I pretty much have the motives and personalities of the characters figured out. Not so much in this series. One of the things that impressed me the most about this book is the way the characters have grown since the first in the series. Martyn Stanley takes his world, his characters and his story seriously enough to care that they learn as they go, grow into the heroes you want them to be and become worthy of continuing on with another book.

The Verkreath Horror also surprised me because of the sheer intelligence in his battle scenes. Whereas many fantasy books annoy me because the battle scenes are either too short, too long or everyone ends up running and screaming or standing around confused when they would logically have been chopped to bits in a real battle, this author doesn't allow his characters that luxury. The descriptions are incredibly good and keep you holding your breath as you turn pages, hoping your favourites make it out alive.

Whilst this is a darker book than the first, I also saw a line of hope and redemption in this story. I'm still trying to figure out how he managed to make a book so conflicting with itself, and yet pull it off so smoothly.

My only complaint:

I miss the goofiness between two of the characters. I won't add a spoiler here by saying which two, but one of the reasons I adored the first book so much was the banter and awkwardness between these two. It wasn't present in this story and that made me a little sad.

Finally, the ending was not what I expected. Generally these books end on some massive cliffhanger, where everyone is in peril. These characters actually seem to be relatively squared away for the moment. I had to analyse this for a bit before writing this review. I believe this is the best way this book could have ended. The author now has me wondering not if, but when the danger will come. I'd rather wait for the next book thinking characters I have grown to love are safe for the moment. It makes it seem more real. How long can a terrifying beast stay suspended in mid-air whilst we wait for the author to release a book? Nope. This ending was genius.

If you love fantasy books and you don't love reading the same thing that has already been done a million times before, this is a great series to go with. Even as someone who has spent much of their life reading fantasy novels from many authors, I still see originality in these books. Check them out, you won't be sorry you did.

Hurry up and write me another book, Mr. Stanley. I am not altogether patient.
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on 15 December 2013
Wow, get ready for a wild ride on the epic adventure of Arc 2, because Stanley delivers. I really liked Deathsworn Arc 1, especially the ending with the emotional losses of the final battle and the revelation that the quest had much more to it than we, or most of the seekers, knew or hoped. So I was excited to see how it would all play out.

The Verkreath Horror is even better than the first book of the series. The author's writing is confident, descriptive and more visceral, especially in battle but also in all sensory aspects of the different scenes. The Verkreath are a challenging addition, lots of fantastical and frankly horrific elements come with them, and it's all handled well and ups the tension intensely. I admire the way the author stayed true to each character, really allowing each type of being to be shown with their particular gifts as unique and important, like when Votrex rises to leadership with his dwarfian expertise of the underground tunnels.The warrens are claustrophobic and the author works the tension here very skillfully. As a reader I'm confronted with the question: would I have what it takes to triumph over underground savages to complete my quest? All of the details, plot developments and descriptions are fascinating and make Arc 2 a great read.

More than that, what I also really like is the truthseeking aspect of the story. There is a subtext about how important it is to keep an open mind, how we might shrink our minds to survive stress but that our strength, like the spells herein, come from openness and focus, and our peril comes from drawing within, and our weakness is revealed in a delusion of not appreciating this one life. Great stuff to think about, and another reason the Deathsworn series is an epic fantasy for our times. There's more to come...the quest keeps growing in scope and in need for wrongs to be avenged, so we have a lot to look forward to.
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on 28 February 2015
'The Verkreath Horror' has more in common with the sword and sorcery genre than it does high fantasy, yet, like the previous novel it shares and subverts features of each. Violent conflicts, mystical mentor romance, magic, the supernatural and a band of sword-wielding heroes on a perilous journey that tests their physical endurance to it limits, as well as their mental fortitude in the face of Brael's truth: a truth, a horror, that pursues the characters throughout the novel like the monstrous Verkreath in the hellish depths of the fallen dwarf warren they traverse.

A Gravian, Elf, Barbarian, Wizard, and Dwarf: the novel follows this misfit bunch of warriors on their perilous journey to return the dragon heart stones to their ruler, Empress Jade. Their journey is fraught with danger as they travel underground in a labyrinth infested with the Verkeath: a savage and deadly species of humanoid rat. There is always the underlying knowledge throughout the course of the novel that the stakes are high. The noble dragon may have been defeated in the 'The Last Dragon Slayer' but the battle is not won. The whole of Empress Jades empire is at peril: there is the ravages of the plague, Thrax's fanatical worshippers, and civil unrest about to erupt like a volcano from the depths below. The mystery surrounding the dragon's heart stones remains unanswered and will no doubt be the focus of third book in the series, "The Blood Queen," but still 'The Verkreath Horror' is teaming with action, bubbling with intrigue and introduces a set of new, darker characters who complicate the plot.

The journey is not sprinkled with faerie dust, it is so gruelling, even the characters themselves comment, ironically, it has been a far cry from the tall tales about heroes journeys told in the ale houses. Throughout the novel Stanley's attention to detail and world building are impressive. Architecture, functional arrangements, customs are all lovingly depicted and well thought out. I was particularly impressed with the Brael's character: being biased towards sci-fi as opposed to fantasy I was delighted to discover he is depicted as a Mage/Scientist which brought to mind Arthur C. Clarke's quote “Magic's just science that we don't understand yet.” Many of the themes and messages weaved within the novel resonate in our own world and history, which is an example of fantasy working at its best. Brael's truth is symbolised in the figure of the Verkreath, the humanoid rat creatures who are emptied of meaning and souls, driven only by the instinct to survive.

Definitely a book recommended for fans of the high fantasy genre and Sword and Sorcery. (Received a free copy in return for an honest review).
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on 28 March 2016
'The Verkreath Horror' is the second book in the 'Deathworm' series.

Just when they think their quest is at an end the group find themselves being hunted down by Thrax's followers. Trying to escape them they come across new creatures who are perhaps worst than what they are fleeing.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and looked forward to reading this one. Out of the two at the moment, this one is my favourite. It was well written and held my interest all the way through.

Even though, Korhan and Vashni seemed to be more in the background, I still thought they were good.
It seemed as though the group couldn't get by without Brael and Vortex in this book. Some of my questions about Brael and 'the truth' were answered in this story but not all of them. Saul, was alright and you seen him using his powers more.

By the end of this book there is so much that still has me curious and keen to read on. The only part I didn't like was the Verkreath creatures because from the way that they are described they sound horrible.

I would recommend this to fans of fantasy, but suggest reading the first book before this.

Thank you to the author for a ebook copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.
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on 3 May 2016
A wonderful, delightful trip into the world of fantasy. Great characters that come alive as the tale weaves it merry way. All the things we love about this genre- differing character types, dragons, heroines and more. I love the interaction between the main characters and there jests at each other’s “breed”. How teach has strengths and weaknesses, tales to tell and beliefs of their own. I also love the couple of ethical sentences intermingled amongst the story- “’tis humans who destroy more than they realise”….So true.
Fantasy is not usually my “thing” but having enjoyed the first book I was honoured to be asked to review the second. This book will stand alone but better enjoyed having read the first to understand the characters, their relationship to each other and their skills (or lack of!). A light hearted fantasy tale to make you smile along the way intermingled with the realms of fantastical creatures and lands. A book that could be enjoyed by both children and adults.
I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review
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on 27 April 2016
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
When I enjoy the first book in a series, starting the second always makes me nervous. Will it be more of the same? Will the story move and the characters develop? Will it be as good?
"The Verkreath Horror" follows on from "The Last Dragon Slayer" (which is the first book in the "Deathsworn Arc" series, and it surpassed my expectations.
The story develops superbly, making this a much faster read than book 1. The characters naturally become fuller and richer.
As with book 1, I had problems with some typos, punctuation errors, and even some missing words on occasion, but none of that is enough to mark the book down.
5 stars - no question.
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on 10 November 2016
The author kindly gave me a free copy of his second book in his ‘Deathswarn Arc trilogy and it has been oh so well worth reading. Overwhelmingly good, it represents truly high quality fantasy for me and has a much greater depth of writing than can be found in many fantasy books coming out these days. Where do I begin to review this brilliant book? There is so much to admire. I don't like spoilers so found it difficult to review this complex and oh so special book.

I found it even better than the first in the series, with its exquisite attention to detail in the magical and unique world Martyn has created. It moves on from the rather sad ending to continue the quest for his little band of very diverse ‘warriors’ I really like the theme of the group overcoming tragedy to continue on their dangerous journey. Each of them is tested and changes in the way they think and feel as they struggle with the way forward. They work out as a group with much discussion and differences of opinion, the directions they must follow. They individually have to find the mutual strength to overcome the horrors they encounter on the way. The Verkreath are a vicious band of huge rats that are frankly terrifying... but the individual strength of the group comes from their unity as they attempt to share not only their unique gifts but also their weaknesses.

Martyn has created such a fresh and beautifully world which is beautifully written. His group of characters are a fascinating mix of differences, both in breed and personalities. This gives him the opportunity to explore in each of his characters the strengths and frailties manifest in all life, humans or otherwise which began in the first book. It is clear the author is writing about so much more than just an adventure story in the fantasy genre.

There are moments of humour to lift and lighten some of the terrifying experiences the little band face as they continue on their journey but overall they face some truly horrifying experiences with breathtaking battle scenes for example.

The detailed and descriptive writing is of an extremely high quality and the book captured my interest and emotions immediately, helped by already having read the first book in the series.

Fresh, original, terrifying, enlightening and intriguing... I was drawn and gripped into a compulsive and wonderful world of differences. This book for me has been a privilege to read. I began with reading on my Kindle but since have purchased the paperbacks as I was so keen to have them on my bookshelves. Thank you Martyn for a most special experience and so looking forward to the third book in your trilogy. Go read it all you fantasy followers.
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on 16 July 2016
The plot of this book is more involving than book #1. But although there is marginally more to this storyline, the events which unfold still do not imbue me with any sense of foreboding or peril. And unfortunately, it seemed to me that the whispering was simply a get out of jail free card which compounded the lack of any impression of danger.

Although an easy read, I'm afraid this series has not grabbed me.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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on 14 February 2017
This was a good read. The characters are much more complex and well developed compared to book 1; their personalities having subtleties that make them feel much more 'real'. Brilliant characterisation and graphic, often gruesome, vivid depictions of the scenery mean that the plot feels slower and more measured, but without ever becoming frustrating or feeling like things were moving along too slowly. I can still smell the rotting corpses of Strak and feel the claustrophobic darkness of the Warren even now as I write this review.

The relationship between Vashni and Korhan was handled well in this book and I enjoyed their more subtle budding friendship greatly. We do hear much more from the other characters and it felt much more balanced as a result. Brael still leaves me intrigued and desperate for more, Vortrex really comes into his own while fighting the Verkreath and Saul did a lot to help the group during the journey (though I felt he was unfairly sidelined, he was actually critical to their success).

All in all, a very good read. I'm very much enjoying seeing both the developing complexities of the characters, as well as seeing the evolution of an author. I look forward to the next instalment.
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