What first must be said about The Sword and Its Servant is that this is very much “High Fantasy Sword and Sorcery.” Good and evil is a large part of what the book stands for, though the whole concept of “gray areas” is a strong underlying theme. To be honest, I had thought that, being a “YA” book, that the violence would be minimal. And I would have been very wrong. This first in a six-part series is, in a word, nightmarish, with nightmarish scenes that would discourage me from recommending the book to the under-18 crowd.
With that said, this is indeed a very good book. There is an undercurrent of the horror genre that drew me in right away, as we first meet Johannes, whose nightmares we enter upon our first introduction to the story: He groaned as the terrible vision of a giant wolf chased him through his dreams. Dreams are an inherent theme throughout the book – though one would more easily say nightmares. Glowing eyes, shining in the dark . . .
The Sword and Its Servant is something more than a book. There is a whole world set up around the book series, the world of Grauwelt. Online, the Grauwelt follower is immersed into an experience well outside of the novel, as readers can immerse themselves into a whole world, including a role-playing game, Grauplay, on the publisher’s website. Apparently based upon a “Dungeons and Dragons” style platform, the site takes the storyline of the book series and pulls the reader even further into the storyline, and the world, of Grauwelt.
If you are a High Fantasy aficionado, with a penchant for horror, this is absolutely something you should check out. While the author and publisher say that the reading audience is “15 and up” I would, however, not recommend the book to those under 18. But then, maybe I am just behind the times. I know that bloody shoot-em-up, whack-of-body-parts violence is available to the younger set, but there is quite a bit of disturbing imagery in the book.
I received a copy of The Sword and Its Servant from the publisher in return for a realistic review. Personally, I will not continue the series, but for the proper audience, this is an exceptional read.