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Book Review: The Sword of Mercy and Wrath

Table of Contents

In a cathedral at the south of the Istryan Empire, young men and women are trained to be killers. The Order of the Golden Sword’s inquisitors are feared for their brutality masked as piety. Masters of blade, poison, and crossbow, their quarry is the god-cursed werewolf, whom they hunt with impunity to herald the return of their god.

Betrayed by her monstrous father, Selene loses her left arm and nearly her life when she’s saved by a traveling inquisitor. Scarred and broken, she swears vengeance on the cursed beasts and joins the Order. It takes all her will to overcome her limits, only for her violent past to drag her back into blood.

With the fabric of the empire at stake, Selene must master her hatred, hone it to a sharp point, then let it loose on her enemies.


Book Information

  • Title: The Sword of Mercy and Wrath
  • Series: Swords of Dominion #1
  • Author: N.C. Koussis
  • Page Count: 411
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Rating: 4.5/5.0
  • Date Read: May 3rd, 2024

Opening Thoughts

The Sword of Mercy and Wrath by N.C. Koussis was an early addition to my personal SPFBO-9 TBR that I’ve spent months trying to chip away at. To say I had bit off more than I could chew would be a grow understatement and since then, a lesson learned. If I had not gotten involved with reading and judging another competition just weeks after creating this list, I might be finished by now. At it stands I still have 16 books yet to get to.

The good news is that this is officially my 38th read from SPFBO-9 and I’ve enjoyed so many of them. I’ve only had a single DNF which I actually tried twice and it just wasn’t for me. The other 37 have yet to fall below a 4 out of 5 rating for me. To say I’ve been luck to have picked so many entertaining reads would be very accurate. Without further ado lets get to focusing on The Sword of Mercy and Wrath.


The pacing of this read seemed very typical of an epic fantasy novel to me. This was a visual read for me and I honestly didn’t come across very many editing issues at all. If they were there, they seemed so minor to me that I skipped right over them and didn’t miss a beat. There were quite a lot of characters and good amount of geographical regions to be found in this story. Thankfully, I didn’t have any issues with names of characters or places in this one.

Overall this turned out to be a really fun and entertaining tale to experience. I’m glad that it worked out that way as I feared having to pause this read midway through for almost two weeks and then returning, might confuse me or have me feeling less connection to it. That was not the case at all. I think the fact that I had taken quite a few notes while I read this one did help me stay on track with the break.

World Building

The world building in The Sword of Mercy and Wrath was interesting. For the most part is had a familiar medieval fantasy feel to it. However, there are plenty of aspects that make it a unique world and tale being told as well. The ability/curse that is passed down only to male heirs was one part. As things expand and we learn more about these people/creature and the history of this world is when it really got interesting. There were enough twists or reveals to keep things interesting. There was also a good mix of regional areas and the author did a solid job in painting a picture of these areas as the characters interact with their environments.

Character Development

The character development might be the strongest aspect of the three that I tend to focus on in my reviews. I say this because not only do we have some solid character arcs for both Selene and Tristain but seeing the growth and understanding of several of the supporting characters was also great. I had a hunch of Leon’s origins which ended up not being exactly correct but the reality was still a good story in itself. I will worn readers that there is a considerable body count in book one here. Don’t be surprised if you grow attached to some characters who don’t make it to the end. Though I still have another hunch on one of these as well. Things seem as this character was dead, I just don’t know if I am buying it at this point. Only time will tell!

Roundup & Recommendation

Another item that I didn’t realize when initially adding this book to my TBR was the inclusion of demons or werewolf/lycanthropes. When that first came up in the story, I was a bit shocked but in a good way, I don’t mind these creatures in my stories at all. Another poor observation of my own was the cover of this book. Not only did I not look close enough to notice it was a female but I also hadn’t noticed she was missing an arm. Now that I’ve read this book in it’s entirety, the cover seems way more fitting for it!

I would certainly recommend this book to any readers of fantasy that don’t mind things a bit darker and with some solid plot twists and turns along the way. There were some really good full circle connections revealed in the second half.


World Building 4.5/5
Pacing 4/5
Character Development 4.5/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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