The Swordman’s Descent (The Royal Champion #2), by G.M. White
Lost in a foreign city. Assassins around every corner. No allies in sight.
Survival is key, when enemies are all around.
Belasko, the Royal Champion, war hero, legendary swordsman, has distanced himself from the trappings of court life and toils at his academy. Searching for his successor.
When a general Belasko defeated long ago stages a coup to place himself upon the Baskan throne, Queen Lilliana’s desire to negotiate a permanent peace takes them into a vipers nest of intrigue, suspicion, and betrayal.
When blades are drawn, and all seems lost, can Belasko save the lives of those he loves the most?
My Review (4.75 out of 5 )
The Swordman’s Descent is the third book (second if you don’t count the prequel novella) in the low fantasy series The Royal Champion, by the British author G.M. White. After loving the prequel, which shows us how Belasko gains his spot as Royal Champion of Villan, and really enjoying The Swordman’s Lament, it was just a matter of time to read this book; and honestly, at this point, being back at reading Belasko’s adventures is like having a beer with an old friend.
Our story starts with Belasko training with his pupils in the academy, preparing those new swordsmen when a Baskan challenger comes, and gets defeated easily by Belasko, showing how despite being older he’s still a really skilled fighter, even dueling disarmed. And even after defeating somebody who could have been defined as unpolite, he invites the challenger to join his academy and to train there, showing that Belasko is still a really good person, despite the time and all the difficulties he has experienced (do you remember Lament?). Shortly after, we can see how our protagonist is suffering from some complications derivated from a physical lesson, and that is shrinking him, which will force him to retire soon and nominate a successor.
Queen Lilliana and Belasko, among others, get invited to visit Bas, as the Baskan King wants to establish good relationships between Bas and Villan and forget what happened during the war (where Belasko became a hero), which will be the excuse to visit Bas and to travel there. The world that we know in The Royal Champion saga gets expanded in this book, finally showing the neighbour country, Bas, and even at some point introducing a little bit of religion and magic, showing us the mountain people. Criminal underworld from both sides make their apparition; and the internal politics of Bas marks the novel, as a conspiration from a certain side (not going to say much, I don’t want to spoil your experience) that will endanger Queen Liliana, forcing Belasko and the rest of the Villan expedition to live an adventure in Bas, surrounded by assassins that can appear in any corner.
Even near the end, the full cycle of the story of Belasko will metaphorically close, as we will be back at the Pass where everything started, where Belasko emerged as a hero. The elements that made me love this saga are again a part of this novel, such as the detailed and realistic sword fights, the political schemes, and to be fair, Belasko is an important reason why I love so much this saga; and G.M. does marvelous work of keeping them while adding new things to the world, showing us more places outside Villan.
I absolutely loved The Swordsman’s Lament, being the perfect continuation to a saga I really enjoy each time I read. It’s an absolute must for low fantasy fans, for those that look for a more optimistic fantasy but without magical elements. At this point, I can just hope that you all pick The Royal Champion saga, because it’s amazing, and I also hope that if we don’t have more Belasko, at least G.M. continues expanding the world shown in this saga.
G.M. White has always been an avid reader, a love of the written word instilled in him by his parents at an early age. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that he was a very talkative child and the only time he was quiet was when he had his head in a book. Anyway, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.
A lifelong daydreamer he finally decided to put his imagination to good use and set pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard) and started to write down the worlds that he carried with him in his head. The Swordsman’s Lament is his first novel.
He has also had the typical author’s chequered job history. He has been at various times an actor, a performer at The London Dungeons, a theatre usher and box office clerk, a ticketing systems specialist working at the Ambassador Theatre Group, National Theatre, and Royal Albert Hall, and played drums in a variety of rock bands.
After thirteen years living and working in London he and his wife gave up the rat race, and moved to St. Martin’s in the Isles of Scilly, where they continue to live.