Deathless Beast/Bone Shroud by Andrew D Meredith


Deathless Best

Fates intertwine – Pantheon calls – Darkness grows

Far too many blame their own bad luck on Hanen and Rallia Clouw. When opportunity knocks, they leap to put their past behind them.

In the turmoil of a holy order fraught with lies, frustration, and heresy, the paladin Jined Brazstein is called to deeper faith.

When Katiam takes up a seemingly ageless seed pod from a botanist’s desk, she cannot guess at the change it will bring.

While life stirs within that seed, while the path to deeper faith beckons, while there is coin to be made upon the road, darkness moves-a winged, deathless wrath invisible to the gods.

All would be heroes must give their lives,

Or be made illustration-

For those who’ve still to come and try,

To fall or rise,

Above their station.

Bone Shroud

Secrets deepen — Prophecies doom — Shadows grow

The errors of yesterday continue to haunt Hanen and Rallia Clouw, though deeper secrets from their past reveal an even darker future.

A rift in the order of the paladins threatens to tear wide open, and Jined Brazstein is all that stands in the gap.

A dark prophecy wilts the sisterhood, as Katiam Borreau is cast away to a land beyond the edge of any dream.

The blind monk Seriah Yaledít has never feared death, until she becomes sole witness to a ghastly murder.

While darkness stirs, nightmares become flesh, heretical schism looms, and contracts bind souls, an unseen figure walks in shadow wearing a cloak formed of countless bone made from his victims.

For those who seek the heroes path,

Fate takes more than bargained for.

Hubris breeds a deathless wrath,

That always hungers after more.


Objective rating: 5/5

tl;dr: a modern masterpiece and proof that self pub can hang with anyone.

Subjective Review: 99/100

This one is a long time coming. I’ve had both finished for awhile, but haven’t had the time to sit down and get my thoughts out. Like literally. So here we go. The promised mega review. I will warn you, I listened to both of these as audiobooks, so it’s likely I will misspell names I’ve only heard.

I’m going to start with this: there are those indie/self pub books that could “pass” as traditionally published. I hate that there is that distinction because of what seems to be a glut of underdeveloped work that can drown out the true gems. I’m not going to say this is a self pub series that could pass for traditional. I’m saying this is a self pub series that could pass for a true classic of the genre, and maybe years from now we will look at this series and realize this is where it all started.

More than ever, I’m going to have trouble being unbiased because so much of this work appeals to me and what I strive to be—both as a person and as a writer.

I felt personally challenged and seen in ways that fiction usually doesn’t make me feel. Your mileage may vary, but as a man who has grown up in the church and seen both sides to it, a lot of the religious themes spoke to me on a deep level. During one particularly impactful scene late in Deathless Beast, I felt my skin tingle and wished I could be in the same situation as one of the characters. It brought tears to my eyes and made me consider my own faith and its basis.

And that’s to say a lot of his characters and themes are all of us in situations that are intimately familiar. The flawed but devout Paladin, Jinid, spoke to me on that profound level, but you may find yourself in the Black Sentinels or the women of the Chrysalas. No matter where you find yourself, we all feel the things these characters go through: self doubt, self discovery, redemption, and failure. We all have people we know that aren’t living the way they claim to. We all know people who take ideas to their logical extremes. And that is the beauty of this work. The very true things it has to show us.

That isn’t to say this book is solely for the religious among us. In some ways, I can see how it would work just as well, if not better for those of a less religious persuasion. Meredith is at his absolute best when he is giving us insight into conflicts of belief and action, contradictions between gods and mortals, and what exactly is free will anyway? These conflicts are pervasive throughout the first two books of this series, and there are no easy answers.

Considering the writing, these books compare favorably to other epics I have ever read: the worldbuilding of Wheel of Time with better pacing and the stakes of the Stormlight Archive with more human characters. It’s amazing how Andrew D Meredith embodies some of the best strengths of the fantasy genre while giving it the heart it so desperately needs. I don’t need another epic fight scene or loredump. I need to know why the world is the way it is and see myself in part of it.

Even though this is a mega review, I’m cutting it short because, like this work, I want to keep it honest and address the author: Andrew, keep this up. You are one of the brightest, freshest voices out of any of us, and I deeply respect what you are doing. I can’t wait to read more of your works. Thank you.