Review: ‘Shadow of the Conqueror’ by Shad M. Brooks

Who better to fight back the darkness of the world than the one responsible for most of it?

Daylen, once known as the Great Bastard, the Scourge of Nations, Dayless the Conqueror, has lived in hiding since his presumed death. Burdened by age and tremendous guilt, he thinks his life is coming to an end. Unbeknownst to him he’s about to embark on a journey towards redemption where his ruthless abilities might save the world. Many battles await with friends to be made and a past filled with countless crimes to confront, all the while trying to keep his true identity a secret.

Indeed, it might be too much if not for the fabled power awaiting him.

CW: Rape

This would’ve been a DNF (did not finish) for me except I bought the audiobook and the cost of that — as well as the excellent narrators, because somehow it had the same pair that does a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s audiobooks — kept me going. By the end I’d grudgingly decided to give it a second star, despite its serious flaws.

The story could’ve been really good (I’m not opposed to an antihero in principle) given a hard edit and the attention of a sensitivity reader — the frequent use of rape and rapists was often ham-handed and, in one awful instance, literally nauseating. That and the “tell, don’t show” use of info dumps and shallow descriptions of everything but technology and sword fights really dragged the story down. 

The magic system had promise, but its application seemed rather inconsistent — if the main character were a roleplaying character, the magic could’ve been used to modify any attribute (strength, intelligence, fortitude, etc), skill or even magical artefact. The end result was that the he was so versatile he was never really in any danger — which meant there wasn’t the sense of peril that keeps you on the edge of your seat. We always knew that Daylen would come up with some neat trick that even the order that has had this same power for centuries couldn’t think of. 

I definitely won’t be following this series.

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