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Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes – SPFBO Review

Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes – SPFBO Review
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Book Name: Where Loyalties Lie
Author: Rob J. Hayes
Publisher(s): Self-published
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Dark Fantasy
Release Date: May 24, 2017

For some reason, the archetypal pirate accent from Hollywood movies always comes out of my mouth (and pen) as a farmer from deepest Wiltshire or Somerset… it doesn’t have quite the same menace. Few folks are scared of a man with a piece of straw between his teeth rather than a knife or cutlass.

Anyway, I am off topic already. Rob Hayes has written pirate-centric fantasy book set in the same world as The Heresy Within (which I read a few years ago and enjoyed, though I gave it an 18 Rating. It retains his almost trademark use of swearing, blunt language and acts of dark violence. You’ll either be fine with this or you won’t – but it comes with an advisory warning.

The characters are each out of for themselves. One wants to be King of the Pirates, he may in fact be destined to be so. Another is the daughter of the blackest pirate to ever sail the seas (and why she doesn’t a) run or b) slice him to pieces is something I don’t understand), and another has quest, a goal in mind but I never quite found out the reasons for it.

There are other characters, some of whom don’t make it to the end, but each is well-drawn and has their own quaint ways about them. More are introduced as the story progresses and the world expands. Though much of the action takes place on water, a fair amount takes place on land too – it is a very Caribbean type of setting, which should be no surprise.

Though there is magic and religion throughout the world, it is the politics and scheming that take centre stage – along with the violence. The pirates are a backbiting, untrustworthy bunch and seemingly everyone below decks is only interested in sex and rum (in any order). There are hints of love and romance as the story progresses and sometimes it is quite vividly described.

I’m going to return to the 18 Rating for a moment, before I continue. There is a scene, about a third of the way in, which almost made me put down the book and DNF – I’m glad I didn’t, but I can imagine some might. One of heroes (loose term for this bunch of pirates) is raped upon the orders of her father… just read that again, got it? Worse still, the father demands the man he ordered to carry out this act, commits the act anally so that he does not impregnate his daughter… just read that again, still with me? And he watches it – though by this stage you’ve already got a throat full of acidic bile. Put the book down and walk away. Come back to it later. I did and I came back expecting a certain response that did not happen.

Anyway, you get past this scene (though it sticks in your mind, throat and unsettles your stomach) and into the rest of the book. The story unfolds, the treachery continues and the sea battles are fantastic! There is a depth to the world and a weight to it that draws you in – I never felt much sympathy for any of the characters, bar one – the abuse victim, but the pace and action push the story from chapter to chapter. Another judge thought the characters were really well drawn and came to care for them. I cared too, I just had little sympathy for them.

As the story develops, the battles on board ships are exciting and there is a mix of gunpowder and magic which makes things interesting. Also, it has to be noted that the prose is incredibly smooth and there are no awkward sentences to jar you out of the action.

The ending, as you’d expect, leaves it open for the sequel and our team are intrigued to see where it leads.

We’re pretty confident we can recommend this book to anyone who is looking for some pirate based adventure and betrayal on the high seas.

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