Book Review: The Imbued Lockblade by M.D. Presley (Sol's Harvest #2)


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Never passing up the opportunity to speak about himself in the third person, M.D. Presley is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. Born and raised in Texas, he spent several years on the East Coast and now waits for the West Coast to shake him loose. His favorite words include defenestrate, callipygian, and Algonquin. The fact that monosyllabic is such a long word keeps him up at night.

Publisher: M.D. Presley (July 13, 2022) Page count: 435 Formats: ebook, paperback

“The Imbued Lockblade” picks up where “The Woven Ring” left off. Marta Childress, accompanied by a pair of freebooters named Luca and Isabelle, plans to deliver the catatonic Caddie Hendrix to the child’s father. Marta secretly intends to kill the man to save the nation of Newfield from a second civil war.

As the story unfolds, Marta starts to trust her companions, but she may be proven wrong as it becomes apparent that Luca has plenty of secrets. Similar to “The Woven Ring,” “The Imbued Lockblade” skillfully weaves two storylines—one in the present and the other revealing Luca’s past and the path that led him to become who he is today.

Both storylines progress and build up to a dual climax. The pacing of the book is good, and from the start, I was invested in the story and characters. It felt like meeting exciting people I wanted to know more about. However, readers who prefer non-stop action may find the pacing a bit slow in some places. If you are intrigued by Luca and eager to learn more about him, you will be thrilled by the insights provided. But if you don’t care much for his character, there’s a risk you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information on his backstory, especially as it is presented amidst action sequences.

“The Imbued Blade” is undoubtedly a character-driven story. Both the protagonists and antagonists are complex and morally ambiguous characters, caught in a conflict that brings out the best and worst in them. Each character has dreams, plans, and aspirations, but the Civil War and personal struggles influence their choices, which in turn impact others.

My favorite character is Marta, hands down. She’s not always likable and has been described as an antihero, but I don’t see her that way. After all she has been through, I wouldn’t expect her to be sunny and cheerful. Her moral ambiguity is what makes her so interesting to me. If you were hoping for her to have light-hearted moments or fall in love, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, she faces dangerous foes and is proven wrong at times. She’s a force to be reckoned with, especially with her new Armor, a sort of Exoskeleton, that makes her formidable in battle.

However, it is Luca Dolphus who receives the most attention in this book. We learn about his past, his relationship with Isabelle, and the kind of person he is. Charming and charismatic, he is undefeated in battle as long as he wields his Imbued Blade. Luca is an interesting character, driven by ambition and passion, yet also willing to make significant sacrifices for his loved ones. The story of Luca obtaining the Imbued Blade is heart-wrenching and well-done. I wouldn’t mind reading a short story focusing on his misadventures during his time at the Hottenkof School of Tshi—an intriguing concept for a blade school inspired by flying insects and cool trials allowing students to progress in the school hierarchy.

While Isabelle isn’t a point-of-view character, we learn much more about her and her relationship with Luca. Her Ingio blood makes her wild at times, but she is also fiercely loyal—a trait worth appreciating.

Finally, Caddie’s secret is revealed (although not fully explained), and without giving away any spoilers, she holds a unique position in the understanding of Sol’s will.

The world-building in the series continues to impress with its scale and depth. In “The Imbued Blade,” the author delves into the culture of the Dobra—a mashup of Roma/Jewish traditions in our world. We learn a lot about their customs and lifestyle, as well as their secret rituals, such as imbuing things, a process that requires death. The clan structure is intricate and well-developed.

The writing and prose are precise and to the point. The author enjoys incorporating archaisms and informal American terms, which adds to the flavor of the story.

If you enjoyed “The Woven Ring,” chances are you’ll love “The Imbued Blade,” especially if you were curious about Luca and Isabelle’s pasts. Luca truly shines as the hero of this story, and we learn a lot about him and the Dobra culture. The book ends with a sort of cliffhanger or game-changer that promises even more intrigue. I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. Additionally, I’m curious if the author will continue the tradition of telling the story in two parallel timelines presented in alternating chapters. Carmichael’s perspective on the events could be compelling, given how skillfully he manipulates all the strings. Learning more about Isabelle would also be quite intriguing.

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