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Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Glass Dagger by M. D. Presley (reviewed by Lukasz Przywoski)

Official Author Website
Order The Glass Dagger over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Woven Ring
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Imbued Lockblade

OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: Born and raised in Texas, Matthew D. Presley spent several years on the East Coast and now lives in California with his wife. His favorite words include defenestrate, callipygian, and Algonquin. The fact that monosyllabic is such a long word keeps him up at night. He’s also worked as a professional Hollywood screenwriter who has written for Chinese TV serials as well. When not writing, he also makes jewelry for fun. The Woven Ring was his debut book. 

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Some Monsters Secure Our Safety.

Everyone fears a Render, those chosen by Sol to sever the bonds of life with their glass blades. And no Render is more feared than Graff, who single-handedly held the line at Stone Cleaver. Hundreds died by his hand during the Grand War, and hundreds more in the intervening years, despite Graff not spilling a single drop of blood. A relentless monster, Graff has set his sights on the child Caddie, and not even Marta can stop him.

And now Luca doubts if she even should.

Their band shattered and original mission scattered to the winds, Marta must ally with old enemies as new friends betray her. Worse still, Marta now suspects something dark dwells deep in the child she now considers her own.

FORMAT/INFO: The Glass Dagger is 461 pages long divided over twenty-nine chapters. Narration is in the third person via Marta Childress, Luca Dolphus and Solace Graff. This is the third volume of the Sol’s Harvest series.

The book was self-published by the author on February 6th, 2019  as an e-book. Cover art and design is provided by  Michael Shinde.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Solace Graff, Render extraordinaire, is a creep. A huge, clumsy bloke with a glass eye, insane powers and total lack of interest in personal hygiene or well being. His lifelong obsession to become the greatest living Render living on Ayr made him stark raving mad. Obviously, there’s much more to it than we suspected and Graff’s dark past hides many surprises.

In The Glass Dagger, MD Presley brings important plot and character arcs to a satisfying and surprising conclusion, while simultaneously opening new ones.We learn who Caddie is and why the future of Ayr may depend on whether she lives or dies. We learn who and why made the civil war start and how key characters’ pasts intertwined and converged off-page. New reveals blew my mind and attest to MD Presley’s impeccable plotting skills. I love the way he orchestrates timelines and characters arcs while moving between them.

The real joy of the book is how well the magic integrates with the rich Ayr’s mythology. The result feels compelling and immersive and every chapter draws the reader deeper into the dark and disturbing story. The plot, while mostly journey- and hunt-based (Graff and Luca follow Marta and Caddy) has enough twists to remain compelling even after the characters and world are established. Add to this cinematic fight sequences and enjoy the ride.

The Glass Dagger stumbled only with characterisation. An autistic, overpowered and single-minded Graff, while intriguing lacks complexity. Marta, Luca and Isabel lost a sense of direction (a deliberate choice of the author before the final book, I think) and turned into feral animals that fight, bite and destroy things.

Especially Marta. A pity as I always loved her as a character. Killing is her second nature. Caddie awakened her maternal instincts. When someone threatens Caddie, their life ends in seconds. Speaking bluntly, for the most of the story characters feel flatter than in previous instalments. Although their relationships still have much growing left to do, many of the later scenes in the book between them (and in various configurations) felt emotionally rushed. That said, Marta and Carmichael’s confrontation was excellent and showed a genuine development of Marta as a character. It also hit her where she’s always been most vulnerable.

CONCLUSION: While this book won’t make you sit back and feel good about the world, it’ll make you reflect and wonder (on politics, religion, beliefs and ambitions) and that’s the power of a good novel. MD Presley doesn’t provide a salivating cliffhanger, but he sets the stage for final reveals I can’t wait to discover. After this ending, I have little doubt that the ultimate book will be anything less than breathtaking. I can’t wait to see how it wraps up.



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