Mandestroy by James Hockley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Because you can’t beat a Mandahoi.
In Mandestroy, Joss Kantal had a hard childhood – growing up a boy with a girl’s name can do that to you. Youngest of 5 boys and seemingly a disappointment to all, he spends his time learning and dreaming in the library when not being bullied and abused. Until he discovers the meaning of his name, Kantal – or blacksmith – and creates a Mandahoi sword from Mandari steel. And now he has a purpose and a goal, if any will listen. He needs to win back the land the Mandari stole over 100 years ago, and prove his worth, not only to the world, but to himself.
Because you can’t beat a Mandahoi . . . unless you have what it takes to become the Mandestroy.
Only complaint is that the prologue could have been abbreviated with just as much effect, and the use of the Mandahoi phrase became a bit overwhelming in its frequency of use in that chapter.
Otherwise, this story is gripping. It’s an underdog story, at its heart, and a gritty tale of wit and guts and fear and hope. The story stops on quite a cliff-hanger, but it doesn’t feel cheap. The story is rich and full, and it continues past the last page (thankfully with more pages :).
Fair warning – this is a very adult tale, in that it deals with difficult material, like his dark childhood beatings and assault that may not be suitable for a younger audience. All of it is handled well – not too graphic and even with a touch of humor without making light of the terrible situation.
Mandestroy is not my usual read (definitely not the fairies and magic kind of fantasy), but if it’s your kind of thing, it comes highly recommended.
**There is swearing in this, and Trigger Warning, there’s a lot of abuse, some of it sexual, though it’s handled delicately without losing its gut punch.