The White Frontier has fallen.
Four centuries have passed since the Secundan Empire was all but destroyed. Now Secunda's people are threatened once more. This time, with their backs to the mountains, they have nowhere left to run.
Uthiel Caellar and his young brothers don their knight's plate and mail and go to war with the greatest heroes of the land, their youthful lust for glory to be brutally pitted against the horribly harsh reality of all-out war.
As Secunda's sons start to fall to the horde and a fell god who feeds on the weakness of the proud and strong, can Uthiel and his brothers survive the bloodshed?
Shield of Secunda is an impressive debut that captures both the brutality of war and the camaraderie between battle brothers. This is not surprising as Collins admitted to me that he grew up obsessed with the writings of Black Library authors and Fantasy greats such as Gemmell, Abercrombie and Martin and aspire to their standards.
If you’re a fan of Black Library books then you are already familiar with some of the concepts in the book such as the training of the initiates into knights and how the different Knightly Orders operate independently of each other. In fact the initiation scene reminds me a little of the training recruits went through in Mitchel Scanlon’s Descent of Angels. Even though some ideas are similar, Shield of Secunda has enough differences to keep the concepts interesting.
The story focuses on Uthiel Caellar and follows him as he is picked to join the Grey Wolves and prepare to defend Secunda from the forthcoming invasion by the barbarians. As the story progresses, we see the gradual transformation of Uthiel from a brash, untested youth to a battle-hardened veteran as he deals with the loss of his fellow brothers-in-arms and rejections from those that remain.
There are plenty of battles in the story and you won’t be disappointed by the fights in the book. There’s a sense of urgency and imminent danger in these scenes. Where there is battle, there is violence and it shouldn’t come as a shock to see how the captives are treated in the book. The tortures may be gruesome, but I feel they are necessary to show how depraved and twisted the enemies have become.
Like many stories that focus on telling the story of a heroic protagonist in times of peril, the secondary characters felt a little weak and less memorable in comparison. There are times in the story that made me pause and ask who those characters are. As the book approaches the midway point, we see one of the characters fall to the dark side but I felt the transition happened a little too quickly. I would have loved to see more internal struggles as he slowly accepts his new station.
That being said, the book ends at an interesting intersection, and I wonder which direction the next book will head in now? Can the fallen character ever be redeemed or Uthiel has to put an end to him?
I enjoyed this book and if you are a fan of epic fantasy or the Space Marines books then you will definitely like this one.
You can find out more about Adrian Collins and his works over at: http://adriancollins.com.au/