Review: Blackcloak: A Man of his Sword (The Bloody Tapestry of Kaef’re Book 1) by W. James Chan ★★★★★

Blackcloak: A Man of his Sword by W. James Chan Blackcloak: A Man of his Sword is the first installment of the Bloody Tapestry of Kaef’re series. The book is set in the eponymous Kaef’re: a strange and exotic world reminiscent of, but not analogous to, ancient China, where the world is alive with the forces of nature, magic, and things far beyond true mortal comprehension. In this twisted realm, where dream and reality can uncomfortably intertwine, a young man sets out on a journey of self – against these forces, between mortal and immortal, and through the hands of the two who vie for his life and more. Observed by one who stole his memories, told by another who wishes to reshape him, the tale of the young man is split in two as the Mindwarp explores his path, and the Nightsong reveals her own recasting of events. Together, two halves form a whole, and destiny reveals itself in the details of its components – through the Scourge; through the sword; through Blackcloak.

Blackcloak is an incredibly unusual and unique read, falling into a seldom-explored psychological niche of traditional fantasy. Judging a book by its cover, one might mistake the tale for a run-of-the-mill sword-and-sorcery affair with an Eastern touch to its setting, but Blackcloak reveals itself as much, much more from even a very early start in its reading. The book reads like poetry from its very first line, presenting itself in vivid imagery and abstract concepts where a reader might otherwise expect a gentle introduction or explanation of affairs. The book does very little to explain itself more simply from here on, adding questions for every new answer, and asking a reader’s full engagement to be properly understood, all before the story begins to even properly branch out.

In short, this book is not simple, and it is not for everybody. But, anyone who finds themselves intrigued by the concept will be helplessly hooked from the first few pages until the bitter end. This is your warning.

Once you have a feel for it, Blackcloak is one of the most beautiful, interesting, riveting fantasy books that, personally, I have had the chance to lay eyes upon. The book is no less than poetry as it tells the dream-like tale of a young man’s coming of age through the inconceivable webs of the powerful, natural, and the willing. To discuss the details of the story devoid of its presented context is difficult, but to say that the book is a tale of battle and blood is to simplify something far more deep, lyrical, and even maddening. Blackcloak is a book that demands your attention while reading, and after you’ve given into its world and immersed yourself in its story, the urge to read it through again with discovered knowledge is overwhelming. The book is a journey, taking pages from Eastern storytelling throughout, and the right balance of concentration and simply opening your mind to what it has to say is necessary to fully appreciate it.

The book is reasonably long at just under 450 pages, with a simple but very fitting cover that leaves a prospective reader clueless until already submerged in its pages. Blackcloak is anything but a relaxing beach or pick-up read, but readers looking for an experience to fall into should give it their attention.

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Blackcloak: A Man of his Sword

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