The Dog and the Serpent (The Books of Belshalara #1)

Lillian Asterios,
M.A. Asterios

DARK FANTASY:  Every year on Feast Day, Lillandyr Shadowglade, Marquis of the Flesh Quarter, lies with an oracle-chosen man before the elven city of Belshalara.  Merris Osterious, an ally with many secrets, wants to be that man.  They manipulate people to get what they want.  They place their players in hopeless situations and get blood on their hands. Yet Lillandyr and Merris aren’t the only manipulators in the city.  A friendship, the gods, and power-hungry rulers move their players like pieces on a chess board.  Sacrifices must be made and lusts slaked. Can anyone triumph amidst so many corrupt souls? 


Readers – be prepared for a dark, decayed, and grim setting.  Belshalara is a dog-eat-dog world made up mostly of vices (drugs, prostitution, and human sacrifice).  There really isn’t a hero in this story, and every character gives up a little bit of his or her soul. The few sympathetic characters present are merely pawns and their presence isn’t properly maintained.  Lillandyr and Merris, who are implied to be the main protagonists, don’t develop enough for readers to feel any high stakes.  While the narrative flows smoothly from one character to the next, the tension is lost.  As a consequence, the plot loses momentum and the reader really feels the length of this novel.  The characters do have a decadent flavor, which makes them worthy of further exploration and a stronger conflict.  For those craving dark fantasy, the macabre, and carnal situations - the world-building in “The Dog and the Serpent” will satisfy those needs.


Anna Fitzgerald