The Demon of Stonewood: Jeremy Hayes
Harcourt is great thief who has eluded capture and managed to hide his real identity. His magic mask that most of us would want helps him stay one or more steps ahead of those who would like to take him down. Using this mask he disguises himself as Weldrick the head or leader of the thieves Guild but the problems he encountered before and the experiences he had were pale in comparison as he now has a new Demon or enemy to take on. Focusing on ridding Stonewood of the demonic cult led by the chief magistrate, Krommel would not be an easy undertaking.
Five hearts will release the evil man who rules the demon world. Five humans will be sacrificed starting with one with the purest heart in order to bring back the head of the demon cult. Lucivenus’s presence would change everything for the Thieves Guild and take over Stonewood at the expense of anyone living there. The weak would suffer and those that go against him would perish. But, Harcourt has his job cut out for him when he suspects that something is about to happen as he dons another disguise and meets with Captain Dornell providing him with information. Thinking that Harcourt is dead helps him embrace his disguises even though at times he wishes he could reveal that he is alive to those that mattered to him before.
Stonewood is ripe for trouble and Harcourt is worried about his former girlfriend, Krestina as he meets her one evening, hopes to rekindle a friendship only to find out she has given her heart to God and the church. Within her soul and her eyes he can feel the pain that she still holds inside at losing Harcourt and thinking he has passed. But with his disguise as Weldrick the head of the Thieves Guild he is protected, revered, respected and feared. Not everything goes the way it is planned as the Cult steps up its plans, takes the life of a young child to begin the processes of freeing Lucivenus from his prison. Five hearts: Five humans will die. But, will Harcourt be able to stop what is already in motion?
The voice of the narrator relates the events as the happen within each section or part of the story. We hear Weldrick/Harcourt’s thoughts and actions related as he tries to find the head of the Demon Cult and stop them before five hearts are taken. But a pure one and a brave one are already cut out and two have lost their lives. One young child and the second someone dear to him which sets in motion a series of events that will change the complexion of Harcourt’s quest, reveal his real identity to some and hopefully help him to enlist more on his side. As one man loses his life and those that are responsible find their way over to Harcourt’s way of thinking just what remains to be done and how to stop the Demon Cult’s leader from rising remains to seen.
Krestina confesses her thoughts about Harcourt and learning the truth sets him back for a while but makes him want to protect her even more. But, bent on divorcing herself from him and his ways a vision about the convent and more brings fear in her heart and causes her to seek help.
Evonne the bounty hunter and her partner are fine adversaries and have taken another path but for how long? When Krommel does not hear from her he enlists Sister Devi and her minions to continue their quest for three more hearts and to find the elusive Harcourt and bring him to his kind of justice. Whether Weldrick, another in disguise Harcourt will fight for what he feels is right as loyalties are tested, betrayals run high and the stakes for some have been raised.
A traitor whose been filtering information to both sides soon shows his true colors and both the head of Investigations Captain Donnell and Harcourt are now being held prisoner and the High Priest hopes to eliminate them both. His quest in hand and another heart taken, as one that is corrupt is harvested next and the end for two more is near. Author Jeremy Hayes takes us deep inside the mentality of two guilds or you might say gangs that are bent on getting control of Stonewood, one to try and just exist and do their jobs as thieves and the other to control, demand and withhold freedoms afforded to most citizens living in Stonewood or anywhere else. As the King of Stonewood seems bent on trying to find out whether the High Magistrate is really working to release this demon cult leader, others are at work making sure that it happens and that Harcourt is eliminated from the mix.
Enter the bounty hunters whose job it is to go after the members of the Thieves guild and rid the world of them in order for their plan to work. Evonne, Vrawg, Fezzin the wizard and Na’jala , provide the local color, the diversions and much more that make the minor characters vital to this intricate plot. But, things change when Guild members are killed, the war is on and the King’s son disappears. The Wizard is missing, Harcourt and Dornell are imprisoned and the escape is heart stopping to say the least as the Cult now has four hearts: pure, brave, corrupt and royal and one more to go: a devoted heart in order to resurrect their leader. But, whose heart they get and how they get is will remind readers just how much magic there is in this world, how much treachery and that you can never let your guard down.
When Harcourt comes face to face with old friends, freedoms are given and the end result of what the High Priest has planned, will he be able to save the one person he cares about the most? What about the fate of the Guild? The war is on and the battle lines drawn as author Jeremy Hayes allows readers to join in the fight with the members of the Guild and the Cult. Daggers drawn, blood flowing from bodies and Harcourt’s one last chance to save it all but can he?
A bounty hunter, an assassin, a former gladiator and loyal friends work along with Harcourt to stop what the High Priest Sarvin has in mind for Stonewood. The final battle scenes are quite graphically depicted as you enter the King’s castle, find your way into the High Priest’s domain, visit the prisons, fight off the cult and join Harcourt and the rest hoping to save the last heart from being taken, stop what has been put into motion and hopefully keep the Demon Cult from taking over Stonewood. An ending that is electrifying and one man named Harcourt whose determination; persistence and daring will endure you to him waiting for the next chapter in this trilogy.
Five hearts: One battle so vicious you won’t believe what happens and who is left standing, who falls to the other side and where Harcourt winds up. Who wins the final battle? What is the fate of Stonewood? Does Lucivenus rise from the ashes? A story so powerful and two enemies who will stop at nothing to rule one city named Stonewood at any cost. Just how far would you go to defend your world? Just how far will you go to defend what you believe in? Meet Harcourt, Dornell, the gladiator, the assassins and the bounty hunters and the demons of Stonewood to find out!
Fran Lewis: reviewer