Cover Image: The Maleficent Seven

The Maleficent Seven

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The Maleficent Seven // by Cameron Johnston

The Maleficent Seven is a book that I looked forward to for a long time. The description combined with that cover just looked really badass and like the type of read that would make me want to finish the entire story in one sitting. Sadly, it didn't quite work out to be like that for me. 

Johnston chose an incredible cast of characters to bring together. The prologue plunges right into the action and establishes what kind of crew we're working with here. And let me tell you, they aren't the kind you want to meet in a dark alley somewhere. Or a crowded pup. Or even in broad daylight in a flowery meadow. As a sucker for a good villain, I was immediately drawn to this group. The treachery immediately starts from there. 

The pacing is FAST. Once the action got started after the avengers were assembled, you don't really get a break until the end. That IS what I was looking forward to but as a reader that really enjoys world-building and complex characters, I didn't really like how that was mostly thrown to the wayside in the process. When a story moves that quickly, I need to be more confident in the characters first or I will doubt whether their actions really fit the story as needed. There were definitely some aspects that I did like a lot, such as the consequences of believing in a god and seeing the personal loyalty between some of the characters. 

While I do think Johnston has shown that he can bring together a very interesting cast of characters with a really interesting plot idea, overall it still fell a bit short and the ending turned out to be a little bit anti-climactic for me. The first half started out strong, there was a good bit of humor mixed in everywhere, but the second half definitely fell a bit flat for me. I do have more of his books on my shelf though and I'm looking forward to trying them towards the end of the year.

Thank you for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Take Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, put a modern, supernatural spin on it in the grimdark sub-genre, and you get an idea of what The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston is about.

The woman, Black Herran - a demonologist - is putting together a team to lead her armies and she's got six of the most ruthless, vicious characters ever brought together.  There's Amogg, a kickass orc, Maeven, a necromancer, Lorimer Felle, an old-school vampire lord, Captain Varena, a pirate lord, Tiarnach, a demi-god, and Jarek Hyden, a mad scientist type of alchemist.

These are not heroes, but some of the cruelest creatures on the planet, but author Cameron Johnston puts them in the protagonist role, generally saved for the heroes.

Together, the group was unstoppable. They brought an entire nation down, and on the eve of the final victory to seal the deal, Black Herran disappeared.  Now she's back, 40 years later, and she wants to pull her squad together. A new enemy is trying to finished what she started so long ago, and if there's going to be any evil ruling the country, it will be she and her six evil cohorts.

I found the characters here to generally be a lot of fun. Amogg the orc was probably my favorite.  He actually seemed the most level-headed and confident of the group, which is a bit odd, but that was part of the fun.

But where the characters were a lot of fun, the story itself, even though borrowed from a classic film, lacked a drive for me.  The story seemed like simply a device to have this set of characters interact with one another and to show off their unique skills. I was not at all engaged with what was happening - only who was doing things.

Like the story, the world-building is just 'there.' There's nothing particularly unique or special here.  This is a very generic fantasy setting.

And still, I had fun.  I enjoy dark fantasy.  But I would have enjoyed it a lot more, I think, if there were more guts laid bare to the story.

Looking for a good book?  The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston is a bloody dark fantasy with some great characters but they needed a more powerful story to bind them together.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Black Herran, demonologist, is getting the old gang back together. 40 years after the near-success of her planned siege, she finds the religious fanatical Lucent Empire encroaching on the small town she has settled in and is left with no choice but to seek help from the best-worst people she knows - her former captains.
The opening chapters are a wonderful little sequence of each captain being found ad persuaded back into the fold. What makes that so enjoyable?  Who these captains are: a vampire, a onetime god of war, a necromancer, a pirate captain, an orc warlord and the worst of all - the normal man (but not an innocent man) - who happens to me a master alchemist and all-round twisted sociopath.
The gang in place, they are each given their roles in preparing for siege, whether that is in training the local militia, scouting for spies (and ripping their throats out), or preparing horrific weapons and magic,
Of course, each of those characters has their own agenda as well as skills, and this gives rise to numerous twists and turns along the way.
A fairly short book, but a supremely enjoyable one, all of the action, the interaction and dialogue and the weaving of the plotlines and subterfuge is a joy to read.  While I can't see their being a sequel, I would love to read some prequels.

I received an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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Nobody can accuse Johnston of failing to add pop to his book. Nobody. It’s full of big brash characters with obvious hooks and plenty of foreshadowing of things to come. Arguably it was too big and brash; I think it was meant to remind me of Deadpool or Suicide Squad, but sometimes made me think of something more cartoony. The big thing though is I just never really rooted for the characters. They didn’t have enough charisma for that, or I didn’t love their motivations enough, or just didn’t dislike the Lucent Empire enough. It’s a huge shame as I loved the concept.
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I really enjoyed this one!

I've read fro Cameron Johnston before and i really enjoyed his work so I was super exited for this one!

I loved the morally grey characters and following the "bad guys" and I was left hoping that more would be written in this world as I really want more from these characters
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A delightful book full of adventure, action, and thrills. Fun to read, engrossing world building, and very descriptive imagery made it feel like it was cinematic. It's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. Would recommend.
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Finding a refreshing take on epic-level fantasy is, for lack of a better word, refreshing!  Cameron Johnston's The Maleficent Seven isn't afraid to embrace its protagonists' antagonistic side and present their truths to the reader, to fantastic effect.  You find yourself rooting for them, despite the terrible flaws and actions they take, in a case of "really, who is worse?"  The worldbuilding is top notch, with just enough backstory and history doled out to the readers through the plot to allow the world to slowly expand.  The characters, flawed and awful as they are, have grown organically to their places in this world.  The twist and turns work great; I didn't feel like I saw most of the surprises coming.  Definitely a "must read" from me.
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I received a gifted copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via Angry Robot books.

The Maleficent Seven is such an action packed and fun but gorey read and I absolutely loved it! This book had me feeling every emotion - love, hate, joy, fear, anger, happiness. This is the first of Caneron Johnstons books I've read but I'm now on the hunt for the previous books to devour like I did this one! 
The characters are absolutely amazing. Such a unique ensemble of villains who are the Heros of the day in this book (think suicide squad vibes). The Bright One is a powerful god trying to take over the world with their holy and crazed fanatics. But an old, dangerous and powerful war general - Black Herran has stepped back up to the plate and won't let them take over her home and safe haven from those she loves most (her daughter and grandchildren), not without a fight, and what a fight it is!! But Black Herran has to get her old crew back on side as she abandoned them some 40 years ago and they're not the type to forgive and forget. 
The main characters are: Black Herran (Demonologist), Maeven (Necromancer), Tiarnach (War God), Jerak Hyden (crazy Alchemist), Amogg (Orc), Verena (pirate queen) and Lorimer (shape shifting Vampire).
The battle itself was incredibly written and isn't for the faint-hearted. I honestly loved this book so much. Amogg and Tiarnach had me in stitches all the way through and were my two favourite characters.
 This book is absolute genius and is an amazing new installment into the fantasy world of books! I urge everyone to read this amazingly plotted, crafted and fun, gorey read!!
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Want a little flip in the tables of who we cheer for? The maleficent seven is a good place to start. We follow a monster horde instead of the usual humans. Not only do they scheme they also mass murder and enjoy a good bit of betrayal so many times.... Soooooo many times.

The concept of follow a horde against evil holy knights side who are no surpsied religious fanatics who are worse than the monsters. 

The story is well executed-- the violence isn't too out of the cartoonidh realm just to poke fun at the situation. The writer makes it just enough likeability to keep the reader emotionally engaged and rooting for the good (bad) guys, while never forgetting they are monsters, some excellent comeuppances, and even a redemption. Plus a couple of more normal characters to remind us what they're all fighting for, or against.
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As much as I wanted to love this book (because who doesn't think that villains are the most interesting part of any story?) I found it difficult to get through. Something about it just didn't keep my attention!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher to provide an honest review.
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Because Grimdark is not only about sad, grim and dark. It can also be fun, enjoyable with some funny evil and twisted protagonists. The concept of the book is just SO good: the monster horde is our main POV and they go against some holy fanatic guys. Violent, page-turner, with really well written characters. A joy of a book.
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I really wanted to enjoy this one as the premise sounds amazing but for some reason I just could not get invested in the story or the characters. 

I'm gutted, especially because the reviews I've read really praised it! 

Thank you for the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review
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I was supposed to read and review this book. I am so excited for this. Then I had some major life changes and I can't find a time to cope up with reading. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me a chance to read this book.
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I have mixed feelings toward this book. On one hand it is brilliant and it offers us a cast of interesting (even if creepy and, well, bad) characters, and if we speak about the characters, there is a lot of good things to say about the ability of the author. But, on the other hand, I wasn't really invested in the story. It was not boring, and it was interesting up to a point. But I was hoping to be more invested in the book as a whole. 
And it may be because of the characters, even if they are the best thing in there. But the problem is that, yes, the author did an amazing job with them, and we have some really well-developed characters, but they are all bad (bad, bad, bad) so even if they are fascinating and interesting, and real and believable, it is not so easy to just sympathize or empathize with them, so even if I enjoyed the reading, and I cannot say that there are faults somewhere in there, I can say that this is not really my cup of tea. Or it is so just up to a point.

I can say that it is worth a read if you want to see something new, and want to meet some interesting and disturbing characters. I think that Jerak, the mad alchemist, is a masterpiece. Sure, just the mention of him made me scared and preoccupied, but he is just so much the spitting image of the mad scientist that he is perfect. And scary as hell!
I think that he is the one best portrayed in there, but my favorites were Tiarnach, a former god and a present drunkard, and Lorimer Felle, probably because they were the most "humans" of the bunch. And since one is a former god and the other is a vampire with a love for massacres, well, you can imagine the other, right?
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DNF at 41% which is not to say that this is a bad book it just wasn’t for me. I got to 41% and there was still 4 hrs left to read and I just wasn’t engaged so I gave up. 
So basically on the eve of winning a war an all powerful demon controlling woman finds herself bored and pregnant and abandons her troops and allies to disappear for forty years. She comes back to get the band together to face the threat that wasn’t completely flattened when she left and a new religious type cult because the town that her family live in is being threatened. That just won’t do. 
The problem is she’s not the one getting the band back together that’s been delegated to her second in command so we are actually following her for the first half of the book. I didn’t care about any of the characters and I get that they are all supposed to be “evil” and “bad” but it just won’t wash when they all have familial reasons for fighting the evil fight. It also seemed weird that we were fobbed off with the deputy rather than the sheriff. I probably should have stuck with it and you never know I might got back but I just wasn’t that in to it. And it’s looooooong.
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WOW!  This book is absolutely brilliant.  An original set of characters that will leave you feeling good that the world could contain monsters of this caliber!  Set in a detailed back ground that had to have been fully developed in Cameron Johnston's mind, he's created a mind movie that adds to the overall.  Now I have to check out his back library.  Give yourself a treat, read this book!
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I loved the premise for this one, and I can certainly see the appeal, especially for anyone in the mood for a fast-paced story with some truly excellent action. Unfortunately, I wasn't completely sold on the characters although they were interesting, it just felt as though they could have used a little more establishing for my liking. But, what ultimately made this not the book for me was the humour - which I will freely admit I am fussy about at the best of times - and it just meant that this wasn't the book for me, although again I can see the appeal for the others and I think this book will work really well for others.
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I had been looking forward to reading this book ever since I first heard of it, way before it was released. When I started reading it I knew this was going to be a special ride, and I wasn't wrong.

The story is a familiar one at its base; getting the gang back together for one last job, a group of unlikely heroes defending a small town against an invading army, magic and mystery are part of their history, etc etc. What I enjoyed about this story was how you can't help but like the main characters regardless of how unlikeable they should be.

There are some interesting twists as the book unfolds, Who is The Falcon Prince, how do you kill a vampire or summon the Kraken? 

There are some really good character arcs going on in this book, and it all comes together nicely at the end to either stop it there or continue with other stories from these lands - Who wouldn't love to read the further adventures of Red Penny? What will become of Lorimer's people?

If you're a fan of fantasy books, this is a must-read for you. If you aren't, I'd still suggest giving this a go. This is just the sort of book you could see being a major film, and I would love to see that.
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Indulgingly gruesome, with an abundance of snarkiness, and an underlying dark, dark humor. This is an adventurous 'let's gather all the reluctant antiheroes road trip' that leads to a satisfying brutal battle of epic proportions. And the tying of loose ends in the finale doles out quite a few surprises.
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So I really screwed up on this (new for me) and reviewed this title and 25 to Life off of NetGalley for the blog tour, then never posted the reviews to NetGalley :{ this is not my usual and the books were reviewed elsewhere :( please don't hate me!!
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