Otto Black (Through Old Lies and New Intrigue Book 1) by Alexandru Parvu

Anyone for a good dark fantasy?

Length: 446 pages
Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: The official blurb for the novel is as follows:

“The Novel takes place in a fictional universe, on the continent of Latikon, in an area known as the “Wes Lands”, or the civilized lands of that continent. The story of the book follows Otto, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Roux, known as Tudor, and the consequences of his father’s failed rebellion. At first Otto tries to avoid the fate of all traitors and flees from the kingdom his father tried to usurp, helped by unexpected parties. But changes in the political landscape of the continent makes it obvious that he can’t run for long and he certainly can’t hide. As such he decides to use his small fortune to return to his homeland and like his father, to try to usurp the throne of the kingdom. But it does not take long for him to realize that he has become the puppet of stronger men than him. With the consequence that his rebellion like that of his father fails at the sword edge of the king of Valagard’s allies.”

Cover Art: At first, I couldn’t figure out why the cover made me think of Germany. My brain started working on it while I was sleeping and now I know why! Its font appears to be similar to the typescript used in a book I have that’s written in German from the early 1900s. The German flag is red, black, and gold; the cover has those colors, too (and white). I wonder if the author is German…

My Thoughts: The copy I read of this book was not the kindle version so I don’t know if there was a map at the beginning or at the end for reference. When I read a fantasy where the character(s) travels far and wide, I like a physical map to look at to help get my bearings. For example, say the character is going south. I like to be able to see what is at the other end or how wide geographic features are. Also, I would have found it helpful had there been a list of some of the main characters at the beginning and their titles like emperor, emperor’s wife, King so-and-so from such-and-such land. I mention this because a lot of characters are introduced in the very beginning and I was getting them confused at first. A little later, we get good descriptions of several royal characters

The setting of the book is the continent of Latikon. Think medieval times and pikemen, archers, catapults, banners… Certain scenes remind me of The Chronicles written by Jean Froissart (ca. 1337- ca. 1410). Then toss in some fantasy characters, such as elves and dwarfs, and political ‘scandals’. That sets the scene for Otto Black.

The author does a good job with his descriptions and I had no problem visualizing the places and people. He did a very nice job of giving the main characters personality. At times I wanted to hate some of them (and kill them off myself) and other times I cheered for those same characters. It’s not often that happens when I’m reading books.

Notes: The book does have some editing mistakes in it. So, grammar Nazis, this book may not be for you quite yet if you tend to get caught up in mistakes. I relayed to the author there are errors in the book (and gave him some specific examples), so, hopefully, there will be more editing done on the book in the near future. With it cleaned up, this book would receive a higher rating from me.

Rating: 3 stars

disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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