The Darkest Champion (The Shadow Battles #2) by Bard Constantine

This stunning sequel picks up directly following the shocking conclusion to book one. After the murder of the King of Leodia, humans and the immortals are at each others throats. War is coming and a Dark Champion has taken the playing field with one desire in mind, vengeance. The wild card in this whole struggle may be the only hope for mankind against Alaric and his followers. This will be a spoiler free review, but I will be touching upon events from the novel.

I implore anybody reading this review to turn away now if you have not read The Eye of Everfell as I will be discussing a HUGE spoiler. Marcellus is standing on the brink after the tragic death’s to his wife and daughter. Desperate to rid himself from the pain he instead turns to vengeance against Alaric but Marcellus can’t fight this battle on his own. The shadowy figure Levilavin has taken the playing field and bestowed upon Marcellus the dark power and transforms him into an ancient being of power, a Reaver. With his powerful stead, the Reaver hunts Alaric and his forces but only at night as once daytime hits, he returns to his human form but is always haunted by the blood lust.

Nyori in possession of her powerful Geod Eymunder, knows the importance of learning everything about the magical item as she is being hunted by Alaric. Nyori is torn between her mission and the love she holds for Marcellus as they are bonded in more ways than one. Alaric is gathering all the different sects of the immortals to his cause and he is determined to end his peoples eternal torment with Eymunder possessed by Nyori. This will take Alaric down a very dark path knowing there is a bigger power out there should he not accomplish his goal. We are also introduced to Rhanu as a main character even though he was in the Eye of Everfell. Rhanu is in my opinion the costar in this novel along side Marcellus. We get a deep dive into Rhanu’s shocking past involving the death of his family and the only trinket he now possesses is a talisman of unknown origin. There will be many twists and turns for Rhanu and not all of the will be so easy to decipher.

If the Eye of Everfell was just an introduction to this fantastic world, The Darkest Champion is the heart and soul of the series so far. The worldbuilding and plot expand exponentially with always the hint of something bigger on the horizon. We get to see battles, betrayals, magic, ancient creatures, and a foretelling of the return of the ancient Sages. Centuries ago there were five Sages each containing a Geod of immense power and a sixth Geod hidden away. We are still learning what exactly happened to the Sages but their memories are locked away in each Geod waiting for a successor. Nyori is one of the Sages reborn with many more still to come. This is the type of story I drool over with unconditional anticipation and glee!

To bring this long winded review to a close, this is a homerun by Bard Constantine. He takes what was established in Everfell and gives the series more depth, emotion, and a voice waiting to be heard. It is rare for me to be blown away by a series and even more for one unknown in the SFF community. Do yourself a favor and read this series. It has a classical feel while showing you something new and amazing. With book 3 on the horizon, now is the time to jump in with both feet. You will be glad you did.


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