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The Broken Land by steinulfr

Things fall apart 

The Broken Land is a dark epic fantasy story set in a world coming apart at the seams. Capricious magic warps beasts into strange and dangerous monsters, and Changes people into distorted caricatures of what they used to be. Peace and prosperity are the order of the day, but the past casts a long shadow, and the wounds of the war are still fresh.

The story opens with Silf, a Changed girl living in the remote town of Branson’s Ford. Once a prosperous community, the town has fallen on hard times in recent years, and these days it’s a backwater at best. Scarred by civil war and with the flow of trade reduced to a trickle, this small agricultural community is barely limping along.

Silf’s life as the assistant at a failing inn seems to be, if not a thrilling or particularly joyous, at the very least stable. But Branson’s Ford is a town where everyone has a secret, and everyone has scars. When a shadow from the past arrives in Branson’s Ford, old wounds will be reopened, buried conflicts will spark to life, and Silf’s quiet life will never be the same.

Note: The Broken Land contains some graphic violence and harsh language.

A serialized novel, updating Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

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Listed: Jul 24, 2016

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Quality Fantasy Adventure

By Krako, member

Apr 10, 2018: The Broken Land is a fairly small-scale adventure set in a compelling fantasy world, featuring a magically mutated protagonist who mostly tries to live her life. The writing is quite professional in style, without any weird web-serialisms.

The titular "Broken Land" is a fairly conventional high-medieval fantasy setting. The Innovation is that the ambient magic outside of the boundaries that protect settlements acts a bit like radioactive fallout, mutating flora and fauna. Plants and beasts can become dangerous monsters, and humans too can become "Changed," although they generally keep their sanity.

The protagonist is Sif, a young war refugee who starts the story working as the barmaid in the only inn of a backwater village. Sif is chock-full of depth, with traumas and vulnerabilities aplenty, but also with a set of smarts and a ruthless streak. She’s also a Changed, and the author does a great job portraying her condition. She has certain advantages over normal humans but also many quality of life issues stemming from her physiology, and the people around her react to her in a variety of ways, from fascination to disgust.

The plot begins when an imperial survey team visits Sif’s village for mysterious reasons. The story is more small-scale (so far) in that there’s no big villain and no world ending threat. Sif really just tries to live happily and peacefully, although events tend to conspire against her.

As aforementioned, the writing is quality, as might be found in a published novel, and the grammar and mechanics are flawless. One kick I do have is that first arc, set in a tiny struggling village, has a somewhat grey and depressing tone. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, and I believe it’s done on purpose, but it’s a strange way to start off your serial. The plot does move on from the village though, and it gets considerably more colourful.

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