Bared Blade is the second book in the FALLEN BLADE series. Kelly McCullough continues the story of Aral Kingslayer, survivor of the destruction of the Goddess Namara turned petty thief and spy.
Aral is still struggling with the revelation that other members of his cult survived the fall of his goddess. His experiences in Broken Blade have started to give him an inkling that there may be more to look forward to than alcoholic oblivion. The relationship between Aral and his familiar/partner Triss has been an interesting twist on typical sword and sorcery tropes.
When a couple of oddly matched women are suddenly attacked in front of Aral, he chooses to get involved. The women have powers and skills far beyond the ordinary, which changes everything immediately. As further evidence of Aral’s re-orientation away from self-destruction via Kyle’s whiskey, Aral chooses to befriend the duo in their quest. The fact that he is kind of attracted to one of them only adds fuel to the fire.
Bared Blade is a relatively light fast-paced adventure as Aral works to help save the world — well, at least the Kingdom of Shan — from being caught up in a multi-species war for a powerful magical artifact. Being pulled back and forth between different factions in this race for the prize is almost expected, but MuCullough introduces a new character, a lost novice of Namara, into the hunt that takes Aral to the very limit of what he can handle.
Bared Blade was decent, but I didn’t get into it as much as I did Fallen Blade. I can’t say exactly why, except that some of the supporting characters just bothered me. I didn’t like the way that Aral interacted with them and the effect they had on him. It was a sophomore effort that I didn’t like as well as its predecessor, but with no glaring reason why. I did, however, like the next book, Crossed Blades, better.
Fallen Blade — (2011-2015) Publisher: Once a fabled Blade of Namara, Aral Kingslayer fought for justice and his goddess alongside his familiar, a living shadow called Triss. Now with their goddess murdered and her temple destroyed, they are among the last of their kind. Surviving on the fringes of society, Aral becomes a drunken, broken, and wanted man, working whatever shadowy deal comes his way. Until a mysterious woman hires him to deliver a secret message-one that can either redeem him or doom him.