Updated: Oct 19
** spoiler alert ** ARC Review 4.5*
Very enjoyable read. A single POV of an unlikely hero going from farmer, to avenging warrior, to prisoner to the rallying character for the enemy. Unlike Druss he's no natural warrior and that begins his convoluted revenge quest to pariah. There are heavy norse vibes and more with an interesting worldscape of medieval times with easy comparisons to medieval history, which works well in a comparable way to Windborn and ticks many fantasy boxes.
Taking the competing factions and religions aside it is a clever take on survival, and as Oben and his reluctant disciples find, survival is key when reviled on all sides, and set an impossible tasks.
It begins with an impressive opener that repeatedly twists the revenge saga into increasingly impossible tasks that test and erode Oben's faith and beliefs. Even more ironically impressive is how he achieve's his vengeance. The middle side quests, particularly with Rek, could have been fleshed out more as the supernatural and chosen one force Oben and co from one calamity to the next with surprising rewards and status.
The ending is well put together as Oben runs out of options and sides and friends as war rages. It is hard not to have sympathy for the guy as he twists and weaves to survive and attempt to keep ahead of prophetic fate and here the story works very well, with humour, brutality and varying moments of fortune. Neat twists and acceptance set things up for the final conflict which can easily provide options for future tales, and events. Oben is a bit of a shit, Blin worked well for humour and impulsiveness and Rek was a surprisingly good background character. It would be interesting to see more of Rek and Grinchell's stories as there was scope to flesh them and Oben's homecoming further.
Instead Oben is the loadstone for destruction and butchery, while furthering the number of jail cells he can visit, as fate and both sides twist him around. His final fate as hinted at is not unexpected and a surprise it took so long, but the moral of the story is "Don't underestimate Oben." And don't underestimate Oben's few friends, as the story wraps with humour and irony coming to roost.
I look forward to further novels/series as it's been damn good entertainment, and well worth anyone's cash.