*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Monsters. Daemons. Dragons. Spartans?
The Hard Blokes of Sparta are gaining a reputation as high-class adventures-for-hire, always willing to lend a magically-strengthened hand in the monster-slaying department…for a fair price, of course. But though they are going up in the world, the world in question remains full of secrets and mysteries. And if they are to get home, they must understand the deeply strange workings of Level 31. Why were they drawn here? What power makes the place so unstable? And even more pressing…is something going wrong with it?
When it becomes apparent an especially evil daemon has been engaged to slay the Hard Blokes, Dave decides the only sensible course of action is a pre-emptive strike.
But taking on a daemon on their home turf was never going to be easy, especially when the daemon in question is horribly ancient, exceptionally sneaky, and addicted to stealing fragments of souls. And when you lose a part of your soul, it turns out that one thing it throws into question is your understanding of the past…
Now everything Dave and his friends thought they knew seems uncertain, and the danger isn’t only the horrible monsters, but the Hard Blokes themselves…
To prevail, they must go on a journey that will take them into the strange secrets which lurk at the heart of Level 31.
The Hard Blokes – Dave, Chad and Phil – return to face a tougher challenge than ever before… themselves And a daemon prince, and an evil magical queen, and an angry girlfriend… Business is really booming on Level 31.
This series sets up a perfect juxtaposition between the mundane and classic fantasy tropes, to great humorous effect. I definitely recommend reading the books in series order (see here), as there is an overarching storyline about the Spartans’ past and their place in the Storystream universe, and Jamie Brindle begins to take us deeper into that back story in this instalment of their adventures.
Dave’s struggle to reconcile using magic with his past as a Spartan warrior and his reputation as muscle-for-hire continues here, as does his budding relationship with Leena. Well, it would be if he had the slightest clue about what he is doing. Luckily the other Blokes have his back… or do they? There are a few internal struggles here, and for those who are familiar with the series I will just note that Brindle really showcases his fantasy-writer chops by actually giving Phil a turn as the sensible hero and romantic lead. When Phil is the voice of reason, you know things have probably gone wrong somewhere!
This role-shifting and development of character complexity is a running theme in the story, as they explore some moral grey areas and it becomes harder to label anyone as good/hero or bad/villain, and even harder to know who to trust without those certainties to cling to.
Within these pages you will find action, humour, romance, tragedy and intrigue all packed within a well-written, easy-to-read and thoroughly entertaining tome. And its part of a series, so plenty more Dave and co. still to come. I can’t wait!
There was a scream like the tearing of metal. On the raised dais, the hulking, skeletal figure of the daemon-prince Azkareth the Black, Master of Fallen Souls, bellowed his rage to the air, and began whipping up a storm of magical energies with which to vanquish his foes.– Jamie Brindle, The Hard Blokes of Sparta: The Daemon in the Basement
Dave and Chad exchanged looks.
“Why do they never just give up and come quietly?” Chad asked. He was tall and well-muscled, even for a Spartan, and his voice was deep and resonant. His long black hair fell dramatically around his face as he spoke, lending him a dark, brooding intensity of which Dave was sometimes mildly jealous.
“Buggered if I know,” said Dave, who was the leader of the Hard Blokes. “Maybe he just hasn’t heard of us?”
The Hard Blokes of Sparta: The Daemon in the Basement is available on Amazon right now!
Follow these links if you want to see my thoughts on Jamie Brindle’s Diminishing Returns and The Hard Blokes of Sparta: The Princess in the Tower.