Saturday, July 24, 2021

 An Epic Conclusion

The Last Lies of Ardor Benn

To be honest, I wondered how best to introduce this, the final book in the Kingdom of Grit trilogy, and couldn’t make my mind up. So, here’s the back cover blurb to ease you in:


Ardor Benn has takes his lies to a new level, infiltrating high society so he can steal a priceless resource. But now that he's on the inside, he finds himself poring over ancient texts, searching for answers to his deepest questions. He discovers something is coming. Something world-ending.

Now, an old enemy is extorting him for one last job. Steal a live dragon. He doesn't know how, and he doesn't know why. But he's got a feeling that it's a job he has to take. Only problem is, Ard's running short on time and shorter on lies. And his personal ambitions are alienating all of his allies.

With no one else to rely on, he'll have to trust the one person nobody else does: himself.


As you can see, the blurb doesn’t give away a great deal. And that’s perfect. Because this isn’t just another book. It’s not just the finale to another trilogy. It’s a tale about the ruse to end all ruses. And only one person in existence stands a chance of pulling it off: Ardor Benn.

There’s so much I want to say, because this is a wonderfully complex and intricate story. But how to do that without dropping hints and spoilers everywhere?

I’ll be guided by the blurb itself.

The story unfolds a couple of years after the events of The Shattered Realm. Ardor Benn has been pardoned for his crimes and is now a studious man, trying to live a quiet life as he picks apart clues to the Chain’s future from ancient texts. The trouble is, his former enemies are making that rather difficult. The Queen may have exonerated him, but many of the people Ardor has scammed in the past are less willing to forgive and forget. In fact, a few are downright hostile!

Even worse, one of those disgruntled associates knows things. Things he shouldn’t. Quite how, neither Ardor, Raek nor Quarrah can fathom. What follows is a complex caper, fraught with mystery, intrigue and danger, where Ardor is expected to steal a mature dragon while avoiding the authorities and determined individuals out to murder him. And if they weren’t already, things get complicated when Ardor discovers that his small band of misfits are being guided by, of all things, Urgings. And when he then realizes just where those Urgings are coming from? Wow! Hold on to your collective hats, because THAT’s when things take off for real.

I enjoyed The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn. It was an explosive introduction to a brand-new world where anything was possible if you were only prepared to go out and make it happen. That enjoyment was compounded by the second book in the series, The Shattered Realm of Ardor Benn, which went on to reveal ancient secrets as to the origins of mankind and the other beings that populate the Greater Chain. And here, in The Last Lies of Ardor Benn, the story comes full circle in a way you won’t anticipate; in ways that will delight as much as frustrate you. Because make no mistake, the world is ending. . .

And THAT’s what makes this weighty tome of a trilogy so exceptional. Tyler Whitesides’ ability to sweep you along in a roister-doister riot of a yarn, while tripping you up with unexpected twists and turns when you least expect them.

The Last Lies of Ardor Benn. An exceptionally sad, but oh so satisfying conclusion to an epic trilogy that ensures you’ll want to see the ruse through to the bittersweet end.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

 See How I Pieced Together. . .

The Shattered Realm of Ardor Benn

After the impressive ending to The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn, I was itching to see how Tyler Whitesides would keep the story fresh and continue Ardor Benn’s journey.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t disappointed, though the cover blurb barely gives anything away.


Ardor Benn saved civilization from imminent destruction, but his efforts brought war to the kingdom. It is believed that the rightful rulers have all been assassinated. However, a young heir might have survived.

An ancient organization known as The Realm is behind the chaos, working from the shadows. Under the anonymity of masks, information is distributed sparingly. Ard's been hired to infiltrate them, but he's got competition from an old friend. One who's set to prove she's better than the self-proclaimed 'Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.'

If Ard can't find the heir, then his world may again approach ruin. Stopping the complete and utter collapse of civilization is quickly becoming Ard's specialty.


Yes, in the aftermath of Ardor Benn’s greatest ever ruse to date, charlatans and cutthroats rush to fill the void left by the death of a king who – for all his failings – had brought a decades-long peace to a land beset by racial pride and religious intolerance. And none are more devious than the Realm, an ancient criminal organization that feels it has a God-given right to control and direct society as they see fit.

Now, if that isn’t a challenge to Ardor Benn’s sense of mischief, then I don’t know what is.

Sure enough, events start spiraling out of control when different factions representing the Realm, the new King, and the Prime Isless, begin trying to influence matters with their own personal agendas in mind. Of course, Ardor Benn gets involved. That’s when things get complicated. Very complicated, very quickly.

And what follows is an immensely enjoyable romp through the visceral underbelly of a civilization on the verge of collapse. Collapse? Ah, there are secrets you don’t know about yet. And as Ardor and his fellow conspirators are drawn deeper into an ever expanding web of lies, the dark history of this marvelous world is uncovered, and yanked up into the light for all to see.

And that’s the great thing about this story. Not only has Tyler Whitesides managed to avoid the ‘second-book-dip’ that plagues so many writers, but he’s blow the story arc out of the water. (literally – you’ll see). As before, this is a thumping big book. Even so, the plot has so many twists and turns, you’ll be wondering what direction you’re heading in. Yet it’s all held together by clever pacing, a great plot, and just the right balance of sparky characters that you’ll end up hating the baddies and rooting for our heroes and heroines right down to the spectacularly climactic end.

Too much fun to miss! I can’t wait to see where Whitesides takes us next.