Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan

Independent Publication Review
Spoil of War by Phoenix Sullivan
ATTENTION: This review is SPOILER FREE. For a more detailed description on the book go to Spoil of War. Personally, I recommend not reading the detailed virtual back cover on Sullivan’s website, and enjoy this book without prior influence.

Spoil of War is gripping, an exceptional story that breathes new life to Arthurian Canon.

Elsbeth, a Celtic noblewoman, finds herself in a dangerous situation when her father starts a small war with the neighboring stronghold of Cameliard, and its newly crowned ruler Leodegrance. War is a way of life for Elsbeth’s father and other lords scattered across Britain. When her father’s quest for victory takes a deadly turn Elsbeth becomes tossed in with the spoils. Not just any spoil, but Leodegrance’s.

One would think a spoil’s only trial is the singular attention, said spoil, must bestow on her captor, though Elsbeth quickly discovers that life is not as simplistic as it seems. The loss of her home and the life she lived disappear like a thief in the night, replaced by warring emotions, political squabbles, and the danger of once more losing another place called home.

The story and Elsbeth’s trials of being a spoil are poignant. The entire story is told from Elsbeth’s perspective, which is exciting and leaves more to be discovered. One of my favorite scenes is shortly after Elsbeth's arrival in Cameliard and she finds that Leodegrance has a queen:

Already he seemed to have forgotten about her, though. She watched the crowd part again as he and his queen, hand in hand, left her with his war steed and moved off toward the inner keep.
Dismounting, Ector's men followed them, the crowd swarming behind them, cutting off Elsbeth's view of the king's retreating back.
She felt a touch on her shoulder. Spinning around, she found Ector at her side, looking at her, amused. "He didn't tell you, did he?"
For some reason Elsbeth blushed. She knew perfectly well what Ector meant, but some demon made her ask, "Tell me what?"
"That there was already a queen."
"What makes you think I even entertained the idea that he was taking me to be his queen?"
"You're a woman. What woman would not want power?"
Too True. "But at what price?"
"It seems to me you've already sacrificed your chastity. What else have you left to lose?"
"Honor. Pride." Myself.
"Those are men's sacrifices, not women's. He left you with nothing, didn't he, save the one vain hope that you could win yourself a king." 
"Maybe a Roman would dream of marrying the man who warred against her father and burned her home, but I'm no Roman. It would do you -- and your king -- well to remember that."
"As you will, my Lady." The knight smiled easily.

Readers will find moments to cry, scream, and even rage while reading. The detailed descriptions of life in an era where women were properties, merely to be traded or used in any fashion devised, are emotional, but worth the experience. There is something for everyone: battles, romance, conflict, and the unmitigated courage of a woman who refuses to back down in defeat.

Spoil of War is by far the largest book I have ever read in 24 hours. The story grabbed me by the eyes, and wouldn’t let go! As a fan of Arthur and Camelot, I found Spoil of War unique, but not damaging to Arthurian Canon. I found the historical element and period information on practices, beliefs, and even politics fascinating. This book is graphic at times, but the scenes portray the reality of life in early Britain. Absence of such scenes would have marred the story, in my opinion, and created more of a fairytale versus a work of fiction that truly entertains through facts. Overall the book was refreshing, real, and will easily engross readers.

Spoil of War is available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Amazon UK, and Smashwords. The retail price for this glorious novel is $0.99. That's right $0.99 thru June 30th. So I recommend you spend the small fortune now on getting yourself a copy, your brother, your best friend, and everyone you know!

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