Squire of War

by MH Johnson

Original Action Adventure Fantasy Female Lead Magic Martial Arts Reincarnation School Life Supernatural

There are hidden truths behind all stories and fables, secret paths leading to worlds wondrous and strange.

Some lucky few discover wonders. Others horror neverending. And for most, only cold death awaits them in realms of living dream.

When the premier war college of Erovering is placed in jeopardy from an arcane experiment gone horribly wrong, a girl's secret dream becomes a desperate mission to save her friends from the most hideous of deaths, their souls the playthings of a corrupt wizard bent on revenge.

Yet there was one thing that fallen mage hadn't counted on. A Squire of War who could embrace darkest nightmare, and make it her own.

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MH Johnson

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Jason07
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If you like realistic combat, this is a fantastic read!

As a recent student of HEMA, I've gained a new appreciation for any fantasy novel with a realistic depiction of combat. I study longsword primarily, spear as well, and I can tell you that with few exceptions, most authors have no real idea what they are talking about.

Longswords, for example, are fast, deadly weapons that can strike quicker than you might think, and the author does an excellent job of conveying the speed and tactics of a longsword bout. She? Is not afraid to use the actual names of the various hews to make the combat that much more realistic, much like other authors (such as Jordan, Wheel of Time, Eisler with his John Rain series) will use Japanese terms for various martial arts moves to make the combat in their books more realistic)

Of course, any good fantasy novel isn't just about the combat, it's about the characters, their story.

Frankly, I enjoyed seeing a strong female lead who wasn't a complete emotional wreck, yet had her vulnerable side as well. The pace definitely picks up as the story progresses, and you get a great sense of the characters and the world building. I like the magic system, what we see of it, talking cats and druidic powers are pretty sweet for anyone who likes nature, and the thought of adventurers gaining power for daring to enter realms of danger is an interesting one.

In closing, if you like chicks that can actually wield a sword, combat that's descriptive, and a fantasy both dark and sweet, this might just be your cup of tea.

And finally, in response to the 3 page criticism one reviewer made that the author is just using 'made up words'...here is a video the guys at my club watch... those 'made up words' are actually the names of various strikes, parries, and voids.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln94E9AGYTc 

 

Jade Dragon
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NOTE: I only read the first 5 chapters or so of this work.  Because of that, while I gave it scores for style, grammar, story and characters, I DID NOT give it recorded star scores for any of those.  I simply don’t believe I read enough of the story before I dropped it to accurately judge those metrics. 

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I sort of regret trying to read this one.  

Listen the author is a very good writer.  Frankly I think they could be a success writing pretty much anything.  However, this story is just rough to read.  The few words of middle English that are placed into the work to make it feel a period piece just are harsh on the eyes.  Period pieces are rough, especially if you plan to make it read like they used to talk back then, you have to get used to how they used to write.  Frankly, I would never dare to try to write one, because I’m simply not good enough to do it.  I’m not sure if this author can do it either, though they’re much better equipped than I would be.  As a result, their effort ends up just not quite right.  This work is written in modern English with splattering’s of 15th century rare middle English verbs.  It just doesn't look right.

For example:

If you're going to use words like saturnine you have to understand that you're using words that most people will blink at when reading.  Maybe even pull out a thesaurus (which I suspect is where the word came from, more on that point later).  I think I'm well read, I can't remember saturnine used in any conversation, movie or text I’ve ever come across.  I had to look it up, and I’ll be honest with you it's been years since I had to do that.  

To top it all off I'm not even 100% sure the word was used right; I mean it is a synonym for dower, dark or bleak, and I guess you could describe someone's face as dower, and if they're in a rough spot maybe bleak, and if they were furious I guess you could describe it as dark, but the definition of saturnine talks strictly about MOOD or PERSONALITY, not a single definition is of appearance.  So while it's a synonym for words in modern English we might use to describe someone's appearance I can't actually find an example of saturnine used that way in actual conversation/writing in 15th century English.  Furthermore, the character described as having a saturnine face doesn't have a mood or personality or even action that anyone would describe as saturnine.  He's an angry, violent, sadistic, rapist, chauvinist bully.  Which is exactly why I think it was placed into the text thanks to the aid of a thesaurus.  If the original word was “dark” meaning, he was “angry” then I can see how someone could mistakenly place saturnine with the help of that thesaurus into that sentence of text; as nothing about this youth actually matches the word saturnine (saturnine means “dark” as in without light, dim, or depressed, the author using dark as in angry in describing a face, then substituting saturnine for dark is misusing the word badly)

I don't mean to go off on a tangent about an archaic word that popped up once in 20,000 words or so of text I waded through, but this was just one example of the language issues with this work.  See this work has at least one word like saturnine every 2 or 3 lines of descriptive text or even dialogue.  It sorts of kicks you out of the work, it’s far worse when the word probably never would be used in that fashion even in that period of time.  If the author didn't pepper this work with the aid of a thesaurus, then the author has an amazingly deep vocabulary that they probably should be taking the reins of.  It hurts the content.  Modern English with a word here or there of middle English is not period writing.  Then the author mixes in their own MADE UP words for the fantasy setting.  So not only are we getting some very rare English words we’re getting made up words with no description except context.  Of course I tried looking a few of those words up thinking I was getting “saturnined” again only to realize it’s a world specific word the author made up which based on use the author could have used an ENGLISH word just as easily without harming the story.  Ugh.

Ok, I just expressed my main problem with the headache I got trying to read this.  Now on to the specific score I gave.

 

OVERALL: 3.5

As I started out saying, this wasn’t my cup of tea.  I think I had a great deal of trouble liking the MC almost right from the start.  I’m not sure why but I felt like I was reading a Jane Austin MC with none of the charm, humor, quirks, defects or sympathizing characteristics her heroines usually possessed.  She just wasn’t interesting enough to read about.  I couldn’t sympathize with her, I couldn’t identify with her, and I certainly couldn’t root for her. 

Style: 2.0

As I said earlier, period pieces =/= modern English with old rare words.  This just butchers this story.  It reads like a bad period piece romance novel at times. 

Story: 2.0

This is probably the most unfair score I’m giving.  I didn’t find the story interesting and dropped it before the plot started around chapter 3 or 4.  You have to hook people in by humanizing characters in some way.  Talking about family history between two characters with robotic and unreal prose doesn’t do that.  Starting a story with a pointless fight between characters we barely know, hinting at some sort of history we don’t know isn’t interesting.  Then at the end of the first chapter we time skipped to 3 years later, and making the central conflict being between these two characters we don’t really know about with 3 MORE years of history we didn’t get to read between them is just ill thought out.  I would have liked to see the main character’s experience after having her ankle and nose broken.  Not have it shoved under the door with a 3-year time skip and “oh by the way you’re now engaged ROFLOL with the rapey bad guy who kicked your ass 200 words and 3 years ago. 

Grammar: 4.0

This one should be higher, the author clearly has a massive vocabulary, or an amazing thesaurus, but in this case the author should rope it back a bit, the massive vocabulary harms the work and readability more than helps it.   That said sentence structure is FLAWLESS for the most part.  Punctuation is spot on.

Character Score: 2.0

I can’t say anyone stuck out in any way except for the antagonist and my irritation for the mc.  Everyone else was background scenery at best.

 

Again, my first impressions of this authors technical writing skill are VERY POSSITIVE.  I’m not ashamed to say that this author is a better technical writer then I am.  But for whatever reason it just doesn’t seem to come together in this story.  Perhaps it’s the period piece writing, or it’s the aggressive use of the thesaurus (or their own massive vocabulary) or it’s the unlikeable Mary sue like MC, or the cartoonish evil antagonists, nothing really drew me in, interested me or made me think “I need to know what happens next”

I’m sure this series works for people who wants a story about a girl trying to be a knight, fighting against the patriarchy in a book writing with modern English using occasional middle English vocabulary to make it seem “immersive” but it just doesn’t work for me. 

Knoweyedear
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I can't say enough about how good this story is.

As the character experiences victory hate and worry I too experience it.

I have not noticed a single error in spelling or grammar(though I'm not the best judge).

The story and style is well paced and enthralling.  It does not rely on cheep tricks to dramatize a scene.

Silhou8
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I do believe I sense excellent potential in this work. Please, do continue to write this sir. I look forward to seeing where it takes me.

novel-fan
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Excellent story , great potentiel

I like the story overall so far , the Characters are well written , the story kind of draws you in its world . keep up the good work 

Flimm
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Thank you, Mr. Johnson, for this amazing story!

This is so full of life, dreams, endless energy... Reminds me of my childhood when I could dream of fantasy worlds with the same passion this book shares with us. Thank you. I totally love the story and crave to know what's next :)

Xairs
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Spoiler: Spoiler

 

 This was a pain to read. I get what the author was trying to do and I appreciate the probably incredible amount of effort to mimic medieval English but it falls so short of it. 

 

I'm not joking when I say ALL of the characters sound like pretentious asses. Even Louise the child herbalist. Every (I'm not kidding) conversation were filled with long winding explanations, unnecessary embellishments of present and/or past accomplishments and was prone to digressing. For example: we have the mc and her friend supposedly in a hurry to escape with an injured friend to boot but then you see them conversing as if theyre having tea smack dab in the middle of an emergency. Discussing how so and so was amazing, stupendous, worthy of being praised 400x until we get the idea that yes he/she is the bomb and that yes already, this was mentioned in the earlier chapters! 

I don't mind it when an author tries to detail a situation by adding these sprinkles (torrent) of conversations here and there or tidbits about previous experiences but the feeling of urgency that the reader SHOULD be experiencing is completely gone when you insert 3000 words of brand-new-irrelevant-to-the-scene-iformation! 

 

This was one of the fastest books I read and not because I couldn't stop or put it down but because I skimmed and skipped so many pages when I just couldn't stop rolling my eyes. I hate to say it but this book was full of "CRINGE". 

It's such a shame, too. I liked the story and the plot is really interesting but you can probably take out 60-70% of the words in the book and you'll get the gist of it. 

(/spoiler)

Edit: added spoiler

Kedryn
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Good writing style but...

Good writing, and after the first couple chapters, it really seemed promising. But after awhile i started to lose my interest.