Series: Assassin’s Rising #1
Genre: High Fantasy
Size: 100k words (approx).
Availability: Kindle, Smashwords, paperback

Kaltor is an assassin-in-training with a powerful secret that could shatter the world if it gets out and a fear of reaching his full potential, despite the knowledge that reaching his power could be the key to finding his lost brother. When one night, an ancient demon is released from her tomb free to unleash her long thought about plans upon the known world, Kaltor knows he must decide between saving the people and hiding his secret.

Decoy is a book I read and experienced in two parts. I believe it was one of the earlier indie ebooks I accepted for review. I’d started reading it and I must have read up to about halfway through the book before putting it to one side for a few months.. I’m fairly sure it was to make way for a small handful of blog tour review books which ended up swamping me and I didn’t get around to picking Decoy back up until a fair few months later, so this is one of those book reviews that really appreciates the joy of notetaking. Thank you Kindle with keyboard for being so awesome!

We are thrust into the nail biting action from the word go as Kaltor fights to the death with a Viper Hound, a deadly creature which can change its form depending on need. From this opening scene we get a taste of the depth of Kaltor’s secret powers and his struggles with holding back so as not to arouse suspicion from those around him, as well as his publicly acknowledged powers as a Varadour (assassin) in training. We are introduced to the magic system and combat style so early on that it’s easy to think that the pacing of Decoy would be so speedy throughout.

It isn’t. Sadly, it feels to me as though Sebrick tried a little too hard to write well and the pacing slows down a fair bit with much too much focus on Kaltor’s inner monologues. We’re left to consider Kaltor’s relationships with his parents, friends, and the other people around him and I couldn’t help but wonder why he goes to the extent he does to lie to the people close to him. Although, Kaltor is a pretty well rounded character with emotions and flaws making him feel real though the people around him in the first half of the novel are not quite as well developed. One thing I felt Sebrick was successful with was in breaking the clichéd mould of much epic fantasy with his Assassin’s Rising series with Kaltor’s relationship with his parents. The cliché dictates that the protagonist is estranged from his parents, or orphaned, whatever his background, but Kaltor’s noble parents actually care about him a lot.

However, don’t let my criticisms put you off. I seemed to have put this book on hold right at the tail-end of the slow part as when I picked it back up, I loved every moment reading this descriptive fantasy novel. The pacing speeds up, the environment changes (my particular favourite was the prison in the later half of the novel), there are new characters brought in who I found myself connecting with much better, and the story reaches a satisfying conclusion. While I’d have loved to have seen more things tied up a little better, or even mentioned, it left me eager for more and without a doubt I will be continuing on with this series when I get a chance to. In fact, I wonder if the difference between the first part I read and the second later on could have simply been down to my vastly varying reading moods.

Either way, I love this world with its unique magic system, religion, history, legends and all of its little mysteries. It features tragedy, triumph and a little joviality between friends. I urge you to give it a try.

Other reviews of Decoy can be found at Stories of my Life and Bookworm Blogger.

Assassin’s Rising series:

1. Decoy
2. Deluge
3. Defiant
4. Desolate
5. Deliverance
6. Dire