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Daryl K. Hill
From a Broken Grail
What does it mean to be cursed? Why, who would know better than the stalwart knights of the Brethren of the Sword? Fresh from a brutal crusade against the faithful, the Livonian Order sends a band of demoralised and faltering knights back into the abyss when a border castle falls into darkness. Godfrey, the youngest and last anointed of the knights carries his guilt easier than his seasoned brethren, but as they make their way through lands newly seized from the pagan Wends, his resolve begins to falter. Creatures from the old darkness seem to draw around them like the halo of light gathers at the heads of the saints. Beings of great craft and malice stalk the untamed land – nymphs of the night forests, dwellers from below the earth, and fallen men. Sleep brings no reprieve, as Godfrey’s past follows him in unbidden dreams of his chequered past, brought forth by a hungry, searching eye – a stranger within his mind. As they trek through the rugged northern coast to the lonely holdfasts and keeps of the Order’s farthest reaches, the senior knights fall to their despair – and the scent of rot and corruption lingers around each man. Their feral Wendish captive gives them no respite, nor does the mystery of her survival at the massacre of Verlorenhoef. And Godfrey must answer the question that has plagued him since they put an end to the heresy at the end of their bloodied swords... Are they truly forsaken?
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Hill unites dark magic, mythical creatures, and a hero crusade in this well-developed fantasy. Moments of intense action are well-crafted and keep the story’s pace brisk, as the Order of the Brothers of the Holy Sword fight to overcome their past, while trying desperately to survive against new forces that are far more dangerous than any they’ve ever faced. When central characters fall in battle, Hill renders their deaths as tragic as they are memorable.

Prose: Hill’s prose holds a poetic beauty in places that subtly builds the story’s setting while advancing the action at the same time, and the story’s structure holds throughout, despite the complexity of the plot. 

Originality: Striking a nice balance between the magic, religious, and political systems in the story, Hill delivers skilled worldbuilding that makes From a Broken Grail stand out. That, coupled with the story’s arresting characters, transforms the storyline into an exceptional read.

Character/Execution: Hill fine tunes his characters, with special attention to their internal battles and backstories. Godfrey, in particular, is carefully wrought, with inner conflict that is both vivid and, in places, heartbreaking.

Date Submitted: April 02, 2024

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: The Brethren of the Sword are sworn to uphold the 'faith'--but after a seemingly successful campaign against heretics, they are haunted by their sins and followed by their guilt as they face a dangerous journey to aid their allies. Along the way, Godfrey, a young knight, finds himself haunted by his own past, and tortured by an uncertain future that tests his beliefs, his strength, and his very soul. Hill delivers a multilayered and finely constructed fantasy.

Prose: Hill's prose is action-packed, and accentuates the fast-paced tale of adventure with skill. Overall, the storytelling is engaging, though at times the language does get bogged down in its own mythology.

Originality: Knights on a quest; mythological creatures and stories; a past steeped in both religion and superstition; a cast of characters walking the thin line between barbarity and morality: From a Broken Grail has it all. And while elements of the story are not overwhelming in their originality, as a whole the plot's devices work well to produce an entertaining story.

Character/Execution: At first, Godfrey appears to be the only one tortured by the knights' deeds at Alba--and his nightmares, memories, and internal conflict reflect his torment well. However, the other knights soon partake of their own torment, each in their different ways--as the past comes to catch up with them all. Overall, this makes for a cast of characters that are complex and multi-dimensional in their ambiguity.

Date Submitted: May 31, 2023