Review: Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes

Published by: self-published
ASIN: B071D6KB7D
ISBN: 1545581924
ISBN 13: 9781545581926
Published: May 2017
Pages: 371
Format reviewed: mobi
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

Pirates! As someone who has the username SkyPirate on various platforms (inspired originally from Final Fantasy), and who utterly adores Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies, and who still mourns the time when Pirates of the Caribbean (and Depp) were good and fun… this book is right up my alley. Pirate Kings and prophecy, as well as a big confidence trickster scheme, what more could one want?

So the story goes that the navy are reaching out from their previous territories, and are slowly wiping out the pirates in any way they can. This means that the pirate clans must become allies if they want to survive – something pirates aren’t overly interested in becoming on a normal day. The worldbuilding in here is typical yet somehow manages to not be cliché – there’s the typical pirate catchphrases, parrots, and they’d sell their own mothers for rum, yet there’s also a humour in this that makes it richer and well-rounded. You can easily believe this world exists. Especially as it also shows us the wilder sides of monsters, magics, and almost LotR-style landscapes. The worldbuilding was easily my favourite part of the book.

The characters are somehow likeable even though they’re scum. They’re crafty, they’re ambitious, and even though there’s prophecy they still have to work hard to make it so. Just knowing that there will be a reward if they work hard enough for it is an interesting consideration. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters especially, but they were completely readable.

One of the issues I had with another finalist for the SPFBO was the – what I felt – unnecessary rape. This book shows how things that are dark and triggering for some can possibly be handled in a way where you expect it. It’s the real-world feel to ‘shit happens’. This is grimdark, it happens to a likeable character, and isn’t pushed further than it needed to be, and it’s used to really show just what one character is really like. I still skimread it a little, but it didn’t make me put the book down for a break.

Overall this is a very decent book. No typos that I noticed, a little slow in parts but not to any great degree, and as I said before, very readable. That’s all one wants sometimes, right?

This series is this is set to be a duology – no trilogy needed, which shows that the author has done some decent editing or planning and knows that the usual trilogy isn’t a requirement. There needs to be more duologies in the world!

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