Read-to-Review: The Swordmaster (The Afterlight Chronicles #0.5) by Rose Reid

30836095In Evrallon, skeletons have a way of escaping their closets.

Before he captured Aerietta.

Before he was betrayed by the princess.

Before he became the Swordmaster.

He still had secrets.

Lyom Livingstone wasn’t supposed to live to the age of twenty-two. He’s never touched a sword in his life. He’s known as the reckless, impulsive kid Blancathey can’t get rid of.

Get trapped in Rose Reid’s spellbinding prequel to Crown of Crimson. Learn the secrets the Children have been guarding, discover the truth behind Evrallon’s history, and uproot the hidden past the Swordmaster has done everything to bury. (From: Goodreads)

Actual rating: 4.5/5 Rising Stars

***Mild spoilers in the following review***

The Swordmaster is the prequel of The Afterlight Chronicles series so not surprisingly, it’s all about the Swordmaster, Lyom Livingstone’s, past and how he became an Afterlighter/Riser. Like most prequels, I strongly suggest you read this one before stucking your nose in Crown of Crimson. The book provides you with necessary information about Lyom and you’ll certainly find them helpful in the following installments. All I can tell you is that Lyom basically bargained with a devil and being a Riser was the consequence he had to take. The story isn’t beautiful, not in a way that’ll allow you to fantasize about such a young, good-looking, atheletic guy, or in a way that’ll make you swoon. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” image of Lyom, nor is there a predictable outcome for everything he experienced. In other words, Rose Reid took the whole story up a notch and made it a spectacular work by adding these features into her book.

To begin with, the story starts pretty slowly at first because apparently, that was a long, long time ago before Lyom met Aerietta. Besides, you’ll realize that it’s a rather young, lively, original version of Mr. Livingstone and thus, it kind of makes sense afterwards. What really captivates me is the idea of being turned into something you were not before; I not only got the big picture of the transformation, but actually felt it from how the process was demonstrated and vividly described as well.

Darkness is setting in, like the darkness of the Forest, and I feel it clawing its way into my chest like an unwanted house guest. It sits where my heart used to be, crowning itself the king, and begins to spread outward from there. … until all I see is the empty throne where my soul used to live.

When I was reading the first book of the series, Crown of Crimson, I’ve always wondered the age of the Swordmaster because of the way he behaved, as if he knew so much more than the fellow 21-year-old swordsmen and that made him look much, much older than he said he was. Well, according to the book, it appears that 23 years have passed before he met Aerietta and I dare not do the math of it! *covered my eyes for fear that I might accidentally see the result of his real age of mind* I mean, even though he was “forever 21,” the truth behind it was still hard to swallow.

Thankfully, the more I know about him, the better I can accept his immortality. Though I wouldn’t deny how hard it was to change my mind about the whole thing (truth is, I don’t even know why I care about his age so much), the story eventually convinced me with its meaning and I came up with my own theory at the same time. We know that Lyom sort of fell for Aerietta in the end of Crown of Crimson and I have the feeling that their romance had just started. After finishing this book, we also learned that Lyom had many some girls before Etta, but they all had one thing in common: betrayal. Marielle tricked him by showing her innocence and that thing which was more powerful than kisses but turned out to be a selfish pixie; even though Carenina didn’t do anything against him, she was afraid of his soulless look along with his characteristics as a Riser; Princess Haraya was the last person I’d want him to get attached with because to me, she was nothing but a superficial seductress. As for Joelle the vampire, well, that was the MOST DISAPPOINTING part in the entire book. I hate that Lyom was so devastated and stooped so low in order to ease his pain of seeing Princess Haraya with Prince Finnegan.

Anyway, my theory is, the reason why Lyom had to be 44 years old in reality if he were a mortal whereas he remained 21 in appearance was that in this way, he could experience more failures in his love life (to see what kinds of girls usually deceived him and played his heart) and when he finally settled for Aerietta (I truly hope so!) , he would find out that there was someone worth fighting/living for after a long, lonely, hopeless pursuit of love.

Aside from the age theory, the only thing that didn’t sit well with me is the instalove issues in the story. Lyom wasn’t a chaste man but I seriously couldn’t stand the fact that he was too attracted to beautiful women to see through their real intentions. I mean, he seemed to make the same mistake over and over again during the past 23 years but still, when there’s another flirtatious girl showing up in front of him, he falls for her almost immediately. THAT’s not what I expected him to be in the first place, and I’ll never, ever want him to act like that.

Seriously, how can a guy kiss a girl ONCE and bring her to bed right away?! Call me a conservative as you like but even in modern days, I do not like the idea of instalove. However, I held a contradictory opinion on his history with girls. On the one hand, he was undoubtedly a Casanova and satiated his desire by spending nights with young ladies; on the other hand, he may learn some lessons in these failures at last and hopefully, won’t walk the same, dangerous path again.

Furthermore, I can see certain potential developments in process and the story is indeed getting more and more interesting. Not to mention that by the end of the book, Lyom met Aerietta and the rest of it matched perfectly with Crown of Crimson. Overall, he wasn’t as stoic and cold-blooded as Aerietta thought and there weren’t questions left unanswered…for now.

For a moment–a brief moment–I falter. Because when I look in the Queen of Crimson’s eyes, I see the pain of betrayal, the fear of being captured, and the sorrow of lost friends. I see every agonizing emotion I have ever experienced playing out in her eyes in this one moment and I pity her.

To sum up, in spite of some teeny tiny flaws I may not appreciate, The Swordmaster is still a book I’d recommend to everyone. Just like Crown of Crimson, you’ll never know what to expect or what will happen in the next second because the author’s writing style is impressively brilliant and she’s also an outstanding storyteller. Besides, I genuinely think the series can’t be complete without this prequel since it gave us some flashback of Lyom’s life before becoming the invincible Swordmaster. So, why not give this series a try?

*Thanks to the author for offering an ebook ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

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