Review of Champion of the Scarlet Wolf, by Ginn Hale

Champion of the Scarlet Wold, 1Well, I am just gobbling up all the Ginn Hale books I can get my grubby little hands on. This time it was Champion of the Scarlet Wolf (book 1 & 2). I borrowed them from the library.

Description of book one:
Five years after abandoning the Sagrada Acedemy (Lord of the White Hell universe), Elezar Grunito has become infamous in the sanctified circles of noble dueling rings for his brutal temper and lethal blade. Men and women of all ranks gather to cheer and jeer, none of them knowing Elezar’s true purpose. But a violent death outside the ring marks Elezar as a wanted man and sends him into hiding in the far northern wilds of Labara.

There, creatures of myth and witchcraft—long since driven from Cadeleon—lurk in dark woods and prowl the winding streets. Soldiers and priests alike fear the return of witch-queens and even demons. Elezar soon learns that magic takes many forms, some too alluring to resist, others too terrible to endure. But just as he begins to find his place in this strange new country, the past he left behind along with his school days returns to challenge him once again.

A really quite marvelous read. Yes, there were some copy edit issues that really surprised me and yes, I cringed at the cliché use of the scorned woman going bad (seriously authors, women do have other motivations in life than men), but mostly I really quite enjoyed this.

I found Elezar’s tarnished honor and torn desires created a complex hero and I thought that Skellan, as a wholly under-estimated badass, was endearing. Their slow burn relationship was a pleasure and the Grimma/witches was an interesting culture.

However, though it was fun to see Javier and Kiram again, I admit they didn’t seem to add much to the plot and I thought Elezar and Skellan deserved the stage to themselves. But maybe J & K will become more important in book 2. Lastly, I thought that the villain was defeated too easily. Not in the sense that it was an easy thing to do or without sacrifice, but that the understanding of what to do and actually doing it seemed to come out of nowhere and be accomplished in a very short, almost anti-climatic amount of time.

So, I had complaints, but mostly I enjoyed then and can’t wait to jump into book two.

Champion of the Scarlet Wolf, 2Description of book two:
Skellan meant to save his city and avenge the woman who raised him. Instead he’s plunged his country into war and shaken their delicate alliance with the great nation of Cadeleon. 

Now only he and his crumbling city stand between an army of old gods and the world of mortal folk. But even as Skellan raises the city’s wards he struggles to unify the disparate defenders of Milmuraille. 

Though he promises his friends that neither political machinations nor magical power will ever undermine his ideals, the merciless reality of battling gods soon threatens to claim all he hopes to save.

I am so happy to have discovered Ginn Hale. Wow. This wrapped the series up nicely (though I could see some of the other Hellions maybe getting a book or two). I have very few complaints. I adored Skellen and Elezar as much, if not more, than I did in book one. I liked the world, the side characters, the writing, pretty much all of it.

I did think it felt overly long, like the middle dragged a bit. As with the other three books by Hale that I’ve read, the editing is surprisingly problematic. There aren’t a ton, but everything is so well done that I just don’t expect to stumble across copy edit mistakes. And I thought the ending a bit abrupt. Both in the sense that the final danger was quickly overcome and in the sense that after the climactic battle we’re given very little winding down of the story. But despite my grumbles I’ll be looking for more of Hale’s writing for sure.

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