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The Blighted City

The Fractured Tapestry
Narrated by: Todd Menesses
Length: 19 hrs and 29 mins
4 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"To challenge the gods is to invite their wrath." So it is written of Lachyla, the Blighted City, in the Codex of the Ages. But who reads codices? And who really believes the tall stories of the Taleweavers? 

Dagra does. If it's a story about the gods - even a dead god - he believes every word. When his sellsword team is offered a contract to cross the Deadlands and find a burial jewel in the crypts of the Blighted City, Dagra wants no part of it. His companions are undaunted by the legend; to them, the blurred divide between the living and the dead is superstitious nonsense. Completing the contract would earn their guild's failing reputation a much-needed boost and secure them the bounty of a lifetime. They're going, with or without him. Torn between the convictions of his beliefs and the importance of his friendships, Dagra reluctantly journeys into the godless region in search of the fabled city. But the Deadlands are only the first challenge. The sellswords uncover an age-old deception when they learn that Lachyla's foul seed is much darker than its legend, that its truth must forever remain untold or risk plunging humanity into an eternal nightmare. Snagged on the barbs of the blight, Dagra faces the toughest choice of his life...and of his death. 

The Blighted City is a dark epic fantasy adventure for adults and mature teens. As the first full-length entry of The Fractured Tapestry series, the novel can also be heard as a stand-alone story.

©2018 Scott Kaelen (P)2019 Scott Kaelen

Critic Reviews

"The action scenes are vivid and fast-paced. The characters are varied and detailed, the settings rich and immersive." (Rebekah Teller at Kreative Joose)

"A fantastically dark and macabre journey. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells. When an author takes the time to build a solid history, it adds so much depth and mystery that make it a joy to read. Scott Kaelen has accomplished that tenfold. This book had virtually every box checked that I love in a great dark fantasy read. A truly wonderful book with world-building of the highest quality. I recommend The Blighted City without reservation." (Nick T. Borrelli at Out Of This World SFF Reviews)

"Scott Kaelen's The Blighted City is a ton of fun. He does suspense and action well, and the way he plays out his storyline is great. He brings the characters and their banter to rich life. If you like George R.R. Matrin and Joe Abercrombie, give this a read. I don't think you'll be disappointed in the least." (Josh Mauthe at The Library Police)

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  • C.T.
  • Ashland, Ky USA
  • 09-09-19

A fantastic merger of horror and fantasy

BLIGHTED CITY is a fantasy which involves a juxtaposition of two things which you normally don't see much of: a biohazard horror setting and a fantasy world. Basically, it's a series which could best be described as THE LAST OF US, THE SHADOWS OF INNSMOUTH, meets your typical DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS dragon crawl. Even then, it's not a very good description and you could draw parallels to many other works.

The premise is a group of mercenaries (called "Freeblades") are hired by a woman to retrieve a family heirloom from the titular Blighted City. It is a taboo place which no one visits and have not done so for centuries. Long ago, a monarch offended the gods and the city was sealed off from the rest of the world. It is considered cursed and there's rumors that the dead walk inside it while the locals around it are incredibly untrustworthy.

I fully expected the story to be focused on exploring the Blighted City. I've visited many accursed cities in my fantasy life from Myth Drannor to the former capital of Darkon. Much to my surprise, the book barely spends any time in the cursed city proper. Instead, the majority of the book is a meditation on the results of a "curse" which many people would take as a blessing. What is it like to know you will never die as long as you never leave a specific area? To never get any older whether you're a toddler or a crone? What does one do when you have all the time in the world but can never do anything with it?

I liked the sense of decay which hung around the communities nearby the city. There's a sense of hopelessnes and age that clings to everything without ever fully giving to despair. Our protagonists are strangers in a familiar land but unlike most typical horror movies, we actually get the perspective of the locals. They've lived comfortably for a long time in their current state and they hate the potential threat the Freeblades present. However, these are not crazy cultists and they're averse to anything too extreme to get rid of them.

The characters are nicely broad but suitably deep with a central conflict between the three main ones based on religion: one being an atheist, one being deeply religious, and the other caught between them. The Blight and it's possible relationship to the gods as well as existential questions about life, death, purpose, and existentialism means it gives plenty of fodder for their long-running dispute.

This isn't a hack and slash novel with many action scenes. While they exist and are competently written, this is really a novel much more about big ideas. There's great moments like the fight between an immortal swordsman vs. a very mortal but utterly ruthless one. However, the best moments are quieter ones like trying to figure out whether to take up a long but pointless life versus a short but merry one.

Ultimately, this may be the first volume of a series but it feels like a complete novel by itself. The characters go through an arc and end their storyline in a fairly definitive way. I wouldn't be adverse to reading more by the author set in the universe but this is a story which stands on its own. I felt it was very much a "thinking" fantasy novel which deals with questions of a man's purpose in the world as well as the "point" of death.

The narration is fantastic and consistent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story but a bit slow!

First off, the narrator Todd Menesses does an amazing job bringing the characters to life. If it wasn’t for Todd I would have quit the book around 10 hours. The story is great but very slow. The author takes a ton of time explaining unnecessary details about the story/characters. Unless Scott Kaelen intends to link this story to his other books he could have shaved off at least 8 hours of waste. Overall the story was good enough and the ending was interesting. If you are looking for a different kind of bio hazard/zombie fantasy story this one is for you!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book

the story is great, nice pace and great visualization of events. I find it amazing that one person can do all those voices but great job

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes stories and legends are true!

I really liked this one, the narration was fantastic and the story kept me interested. It did have some slow parts but all books do as characters are being fleshed out. The graveyard scene alone was the best part of the book for me. All in all a fun little adventure with three enjoyable heroes and a very memorable scene for one that brought me to tears. If you like fantasy and treasure hunts and the undead, pick this one up.