Monday, March 28, 2016

Spotlight-Review & Excerpt: THE SWORD CHRONICLES: CHILD OF THE EMPIRE by Michaelbrent Collings

by Michaelbrent Collings
(Dec. 03, 2015, Michaelbrent Collings, publ)

"Epic fantasy meets superheroes, with lots of action and great characters. The Sword Chronicles is dark yet hopeful, and very entertaining. Collings is a great storyteller."    - Larry Correia, New York Times bestselling author of Monster Hunter International and Son of the Black Sword

"... intense... one slice of action after another... a great book and what looks to be an interesting start of a series that could be amazing." - Game Industry News


She is a Dog - one of the many children and teens across the empire of Ansborn who have been sentenced to fight in the arenas. There they fight in battle after battle until they die for the sport of the people of Ansborn - an empire built atop the peaks of five mountains.

But one day she picks up a knife... and everything changes.

She discovers she is a Greater Gift - one of a handful of magic users with powers so great they have only two choices: to join the Empire as one of its premier assassins, or die as a threat to the Empire itself.

She is no longer a Dog. Now, she is Sword. And she will soon realize that in this Empire, not all is what it seems. Good and evil collide, and she can never be sure whom to trust - not even herself.

She holds life in her hands for some. Brings death by her blade to others.

She is a killer.
She is a savior.

She is Sword.


And suddenly the girl found herself alone.
Her own Packmates had not gone without a reckoning. And she herself had killed three of the other Pack. Still, that meant she was facing ten… twelve… thirteen still-fighting members of the other Pack.
She was going to die.
They ringed her. Several of them growling like the dogs they were named for.
She tried to decide if it would be better to fight or simply to kneel and accept her fate. She knew that some Packs would kill fighters quickly, would punish those who chose a coward's death with a long, agonizing demise. Other Packs were the opposite, and would reserve torture for those who resisted.
So she would fight. Because it was her nature to fight. She would follow what she knew and what she was.
Something landed at her feet.
It was a knife. Someone in the crowd had tossed her a knife. Perhaps so she could have a chance facing the thirteen girls and boys before her. Perhaps so she could grant herself a merciful death.
This had happened before, she had seen it. But that was the only other rule of the arena: no weapons. If any Dog took up a weapon, he or she would be put down. Riflemen waited behind the glo-globes, ready to put a bullet into the stomach of any Dog who took up arms. A certain painful death.
Death, no matter what. And she had never handled a knife, so she doubted it would matter to her survival.
I'm dead already.
She picked up the knife.
The second her fingers touched the knife, something happened.
It was something like the times when a shockstick slammed down on her. A thrumming, pounding pulse that ran from the knife to her fingers to her hand and arm. It settled deep in her chest, a fire that would not be quenched.
She remembered, for an instant, her Dream. The Man and the Woman, reaching for her. She felt as though she was loved again.
Then one of the other Pack jumped at her. She moved, unaware of how she was moving, of what she was doing. She was only vaguely conscious of the dirt floor of the arena kicking below her feet, her arm moving so fast she couldn't see it.
The Dog who had jumped at her continued his jump. Only she wasn't there, and when he landed he was holding his stomach.
Not holding it. Holding it together.
He stumbled. Fell. Blood ran into the sand.
She spun. Two more Dogs rushed her. Three. They fell as one.
She did not know what she was doing. Her arm was its own master, the knife its own creature, a beast that sought only to drink the blood of her enemies.
Four Dogs down. Then five. Ten.
The last three circled her. No hesitation in spite of all that had just happened, because a good Dog never hesitated. Never thought, just attacked, just killed or died.
They leaped.
They fell.
And she did not have to look to know that all who had stood against her were dead.
It had all happened fast. So fast that the crowd had utterly hushed. Shocked to silence by the impossible ferocity and skill they had just witnessed.
And it had happened so fast that apparently the Riflemen had been stunned to inaction.
But not anymore.
She heard the shot.
She moved.
Something numbed her hand.
Another shot.
Again her hand tingled.
The hush that had spread over the arena somehow intensified.
A single voice whispered into the silence, "Gods' Charity, she blocked them. She blocked the bullets."

Shannon's Review

I have been a big fan of the fantasy genre since I was very young, but lately have had trouble finding a good fantasy book. This is my first time reading a Michaelbrent Collins novel, and I was immediately drawn into the story! “The Sword Chronicles: Child of the Empire” starts in a dark place, with a young girl whose past is unknown, and whose present is dominated by the reality that she must fight and kill in order to survive. She is the lowest of the low, a Dog who must fight in the Arena for the entertainment of others. Despite the grimness of her existence, she dreams of a Man and a Woman who once loved her, a mysterious part of her past that seems to fuel her strong will to survive.  During one particularly brutal fight, this young girl (who has no name) picks up a weapon that has been thrown into the Arena…and awakens a gift that will utterly change the course of her life.  She is trained to become part of an elite force that protects the Emperor and the interests of the Empire, and is given the name Sword.  Sword believes she has found a purpose beyond survival, and a family, but all is not what it seems.

All seems well for Sword as she settles into her new life with her fellow Blessed Ones, but along the way she begins to have doubts that what she is doing is right.  I really enjoyed watching her development throughout the book.  Despite her horrendous childhood, she somehow manages to hold on to her humanity, and develop a good sense of right and wrong.  She understands that death is sometimes necessary for the survival of the Empire, but she begins to question her missions when asked to kill innocent bystanders to maintain secrecy.  And during one such mission gone horribly wrong, she is kidnapped by the “enemy” and is forced to face the possibility that everything that she has known and has been taught is wrong.  I found myself rooting for Sword throughout the whole book, hoping that she would make the right choices, and that she would find a way though the confusion and treachery surrounding her.  I also was greatly concerned with the fates of her “family”, both the old and the new.  The author does a fantastic job of showing that although the world contains great good and great evil, for most the reality is actually a grey area.  Many of the characters in the story truly believe what they are doing is right, or have other motivations (like threats against loved ones), that drive their actions, and therefore I really felt connected to them even though they were on the “wrong” side.  The story also has lots of twists and turns, some which you could guess and some that were total surprises.  Overall, this was an excellent story, with well developed characters that you just can’t help but to like, so I’m giving it a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.  Although the mystery of Sword’s past was resolved in this book, the story ended with a great twist that indicated that her journey was far from over, and which makes me very eager to read the next one!

About the Author

Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally-bestselling novelist, one of the top indie horror writers in the United States, and a multiple Bram Stoker Award-nominee. He is  also a produced screenwriter and (perhaps most important of all) he makes amazing chocolate chip waffles. Find out more about him and his books at, or you can sign up for his mailing list (and get a free copy of one of his books!) at

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