EMPIRE PALADIN: Realm of the Dead is set in the 13th century, and the Holy Roman Empire faces a mounting threat. One of its order has turned against the church, and the powerful paladin gone blackguard is raising an army of the undead to devour the world. It is a sweeping, historical fantasy full of blood, glory, and magic.
Author M. S. Valdez’s unique character designs are absolutely the stars of the show. The care and attention paid to creating a rich array of characters is obvious, and the descriptions do much to paint the scene for the reader. Valdez’s descriptions of each are so vivid and illustrative that it feels less like reading and imagining them and more like seeing them in the flesh (or scales!). Fantasy fans of all kinds will delight in the diverse cast of mayhem causers: the sharp and commanding Camila, and her steadfast paladin brethren; a sorceress who accessorizes everything in red and, of course, just adores fireballs; a tortured man who turns to rage and necromancy when he loses everything dear to him. Even Lucifer himself and his host of demons and warlocks join the fray!
In contrast, many of the battles are rife with long, unwieldy sentences with oppressive detail leaving little room for visualization. Breaking sentences into somewhat more digestible, bite sized pieces during action scenes could be helpful in future edits. Valdez is at his best when he sheds tedious, overly choreographed fight scenes in favor of lush descriptions and flowing imagery that stokes the reader’s imagination.
Readers will be pleased to find that this fantasy action epic also has a great sense of humor. One might imagine that with all the zombie guts, demon possessions, and godly warriors that EMPIRE PALADIN would have a dark and serious tone but Valdez keeps the atmosphere boisterous and punchy with deft touches of humor throughout. The characters are made all the more realistic by their flashes of irreverence, cheeky wit, and sarcasm, because if you can’t at least have a laugh while bashing in zombie skulls and fighting for the fate of the human race, then what the heck’s the point?
Whether it is blood and guts, the lush imagery and unique characters, or the fireballs and maniacal laughter – fans of action-driven historical fantasy are bound to find something to love about EMPIRE PALADIN: Realm of the Dead.
~Lauren Napoli for IndieReader