Don't Bloody the Black Flag (A Malitu Prequel Novella), by James L. Dulin

8 Jan 2024

The Book

Don't Bloody the Black Flag
Series: Malitu
Pages: 125
Age Group: Adult
Published on 24 Jan 2024
Publisher: Self-Published
Dark Fantasy
Available on:


The fight for peace is often a war.

To end nearly a century of war plaguing Ennea, a clan of nomads plans to bring leaders from the four nations together. They task a young water dancer named Isála to deliver a missive to a northern general, her estranged mother, and convince her to join the conclave. However, there are those who would do anything to defend their war from the threat of peace. After living a life sheltered from the violence, Isála will have to choose between her principles and shedding blood for the good of her people.

Don’t Bloody the Black Flag is a novella set in the world of the Malitu series. It takes place more than 200 years before the events of No Heart for a Thief.  

My Review

Don't Bloody the Black Flag is a prequel novella, set 200 years before No Heart for a Thief, which helps develop further the world of Ennea, written by James L. Dulin. An intense novella with a new set of characters, with Isala, a young water dancer, being the main focus, but exploring several points of view to tell a compelling and thought-provoking story.

War has been plaguing Ennea for near a century, and finally, a clan of nomads is convoking a council of peace between leaders of the four nations; with that purpose, messengers are tasked with bringing the notice to them, identifying their intentions with a black flag. Isala, a member of this clan, a pacifist in her core, is sent to deliver a letter to her mother, a northern general, and to try to convince her to join the council. 
Isala's mission will be proven to be hard, as in her way she will find people that have interests in maintaining the war running; at some point, Isala's principles will be tested, as she will be forced to choose between them and violence with the purpose of maintaining peace.

Isala is an excellent character, who represents sometimes the naivety of idealism, in this case, about reaching peace through the way of no violence; an idea that, despite being noble, doesn't clash well with reality. At some point, she has to choose between defending that peace she aims to reach with violence or simply let it be broken to stay faithful to her principles; by extension, Dulin creates an excellent discussion about how sometimes inaction can be tremendously dangerous, and how idealism shouldn't be mistaken with naivety.
Outside of Isala, the cast of secondary characters is well fleshed, despite I feel Laiken's arc could have ended less abruptly; you can understand why the General Kalut aims to continue with the war, and some deaths are extremely hard to read, as they are really impactful despite the shortness of this novella.

Don't Bloody the Black Flag is an excellent dark fantasy novella, working greatly as a standalone (still I would recommend to read it after No Heart for a Thief); if you are in the awe of trying James L. Dulin's world, I totally recommend you to read this novella, you won't be disappointed.

The Author/s

James L. Dulin

James L. Dulin

James is a nerd with a head full of stories and limited time to put them on the page.

He grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, spending an excessive amount of time at a local community theater where he developed his affinity for storytelling. This affinity grew into a deep admiration for language and spoken word poetry while studying mathematics and education at the University of Michigan. A few hundred mediocre poems and lackluster performances later, he decided his dream of writing a novel might not be as ridiculous as he once thought. He firmly believes that art—even silly books about magic, or maybe especially silly books about magic—has the ability to tell stories that sink beneath the surface.