Review: What Remains of Heroes by David Benem

Um.. sir? I think you dropped your floating sword. Sir?

A good start to the year calls for a good audiobook! Good audiobooks help me stay on task at work, which is excellent… as far as actually doing work at work goes. My boss thanks you, Mr. Benem.

Lannick deVeers used to be somebody. A hero, even. Then, he ran afoul of the kingdom’s most powerful general and the cost he paid was nearly too much to bear. In the years that followed, his grief turned him into a shadow of his former self, and he spent his days drowning his regrets in tankards of ale.

But now an unexpected encounter casts Lannick upon an unlikely path to revenge. If he can just find the strength to overcome the many mistakes of his past, he can seize the chance to become a hero once more.

And with an ancient enemy lurking at the kingdom’s doorstep, he’d better…

“I could give two shits about who sits on what throne and what flag rises from Rune’s towers. Whoever it is I have to kneel to is always going to be some vicious swindler who climbed into that throne on the backs of the poor, the broken and the dead.”

For the most part, this novel follows the exploits of three primary characters: Lannick is an old soldier, once a hero and a captain in the royal army, and a former member of a sort of secret society of protectors. Now he’s more of an old drunkard who spends most of his time in the pub drowning the sorrows of losing his entire family to a gruesome murder. Karnag is a thief and an assassin who is going completely bonkers insane because of the last job he did. (B-O-N-K-E-R-S. Like… right off the deep end). Last but not least, Bale is a socially anxious scholar who, despite it being the last thing he wants to do, is sent to investigate the same murder that’s driving Karnag mad.

We also get some pretty awesome secondary characters: Fencress, a mercenary and member of Karnag’s company; Gamghast, a prefect of the same religious order as Bale; Brugan, an old friend of Lannick (and purveyor of drinks), and Lorra, a woman who agreed to guide Bale to his destination. Interestingly, sometimes we see the story from the POV of some of the secondary characters, in fact, Fencress’ POV takes over Karnag’s as the story progresses and he’s not… really in his right mind. I think my favorite character is Bale. We have a lot in common, Bale and I. Except the religion. >.>;

This book is very well written, not at all boring, and dark as fuck sometimes (Lannick’s first encounter with the Necrists, I’m looking in your direction). You would think that the main antagonists of the book, who are basically a group of necromancers trying to revive their nightmare god, would make the whole thing kind of cheesy, but that’s not at all the case. They were legit creepy as fuck, wearing people’s faces as masks and shit. Other reviewers have pointed out that this book does have a few commonly used fantasy tropes, but it doesn’t feel at all like a common fantasy novel. Benem does a great job using tropes like the retired soldier, and the evil necromancers and making them seem new and fresh.

Andrew Tell, the narrator did a very good job at telling the story. I liked the voices that he gave Bale and Fane (who is easy to hate to begin with, but I might have hated him more because of the voice. Fuck that guy), but I loved the voice he gave Karnag most of all. Very menacing and appropriate (though, there were a few times that I desperately wanted him to say ‘I’M BATMAN’ with all that menacing gruffness). He made each character quite unique and helped immerse me in the story. Well done!

I related the most to Bale. Social anxiety twins power activate! Form of…  staying inside, reading books, and hating people. *fist bump*

All told, this one was a real solid 4.5/5 stars for me. I’m eagerly awaiting book 2!


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