“Some call me Murderer, others call me Lord. I’ve been called Savior and Enslaver. But no one has ever called me Child.”
A young man signs his own death warrant when he joins an already failing militia. A teenage girl is haunted by her childhood abuse and begins to crave the very things she hates. A childless mother finds herself on the run as a convicted murderer. Yet they are all unaware that their own fates are tied to a young orphan who has drowned and come back to life in a foreign land where he will be the death of everyone he meets.
Hælend’s Ballad is a tale about what happens when men and women from two colliding cultures realize they may not be on the right side. Heroes are villains. The persecuted are oppressors. And when rumors begin to spread that the world is dying, the darkness of their own hearts betrays them.
Review of Hælend’s Ballad
Arnon knows the old stories and songs. He knows how the world is supposed to end. Still, it’s hard to know if his world’s cruelty and hopelessness means the end draws nigh. Maybe this is just another war. Either way, maybe the world deserves to end. In Haelend’s Ballad, Ian Conrey creates a fantasy that borrows from steampunk, staging a war for freedom that does not follow expected courses, in which characters fall short of ideals. Heavy themes dominate the story—suffering, evil, and sin that darkens every human heart. Content is sometimes brutal, but not without purpose. Some readers will may struggle to see in the novel’s darkness or to track its many characters. Nonetheless, Haeland’s Ballad forges a thought-provoking and richly constructed war story.
Best for: Adult fans of dark fantasy with deep Christian themes.
Discern: Graphic violence, from battles to executions; war atrocities, including mutilation of corpses, abuse of prisoners and wounded soldiers, and sadistic experimentation in a Nazi-like prison camp; child abuse as well as rape and prostitution, mostly between the lines.
What say you?