“Selflessness. Humility. Truthfulness. These are the three marks of an honorable man.” – Suzy Kassem

In Richard Dawes’ novel ‘Sword of Doom’ we are transported back to the times of callous kingdoms and conniving kings. In their midst is our sword wielding hero, Valka the Wolf Slayer, who, in spite of his aristocratic lineage, chooses to pursue scholarly studies in the famous Museum of Korava on the shore of the Inland Sea. But make no mistake, Valka is a ferocious fighter trained in the Warrior’s Way. He carries the sacred bloodline of an elite warrior group known as the Dragon Lords. This episode depicts his adventures as he escorts a royal princess back to her kingdom.

This is the second book in the ‘Wolf Slayer Saga’ series. The first book ‘Dragon Sword’ introduced the character, Valka, as a young and skillful swordsman with a penchant for acquiring esoteric wisdom. In this edition, he is no longer a student. He has mastered his fighting skills and has achieved a basic understanding of higher knowledge. Also, compared to the first book, the characters and the world have grown in scope and complexity.

Valka the Wolf Slayer has enough oomph and pizzaz to capture and hold the reader’s attention. He displays a type of masculinity that is rarely found in the modern world. He’s as idealistic as he is passionate about life, and he’s as ferocious in battle as he is level headed when confronting a problem. And along with his big, strong heart he also possesses a mind as quick and keen as the edge of his sword. Valka and Princess Uralia, the beautiful young woman he is escorting back to her kingdom, initially appear to be complete opposites. Their relationship develops, however, as they share many dangerous adventures, and finally reaches a level of affection, especially after Uralia comes to terms with the harshness and brutality of everyday reality.

The reader will experience different types of fighting techniques in the book. You have to pay close attention to the action sequences to notice the different ways Valka approaches an opponent, and how he changes his methods of combat, depending on the situation and his level of respect for the antagonist. The fighting sequences are not only a pleasure to read, but they also reveal a great deal about the protagonist and how he deals with a particular predicament.

Richard Dawes has quite an engaging way of narrating stories. He mixes action and characterization in such a way that the freshness of the story line is always kept alive. Everything in 'Sword of Doom' exists for a reason. The characters don’t merely work their way around tough situations. They exist to introduce, discuss and illustrate ideas of a higher nature.

The action, violence, passion, and sexuality in the novel are expressions of power and struggle. Living on the edge, the characters, while facing death or beauty, are always striving for ultimate power. There’s a kind of beauty to their brutality; a definite method to their madness.

The Wolf Slayer sagas can be read in any order without losing comprehension. I recommend, however, reading ‘Dragon Sword’ first to properly understand the character of Valka before he consolidates his mythical status in this one. There is a surprise ending, and this ‘end’ suggests it may be the beginning of a sequel!

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