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Dark Lament

The Black Crusade book 1

by Simon Graeme

Dark Lament - Simon Graeme - Black Crusade
Editions:Kindle - Second Edition: $ 2.99
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Pages: 379

When good men forsake the light, humanity pays the price, and the dead collect.

Inspired by the Crusades.

Vas was raised by monks to be a clerical healer, one that channels the light of Heaven to mend the broken and cure the sick. But when his uncle dies in a farming accident, Vas defies the will of Heaven by making a deal with a dark entity and turning to the black art of necromancy to restore his friend to life. The price is the lives of several around him, including the sister of the girl he loves. Vas vows to learn from his mistakes and atone for his weakness. But when dark forces seek him out, Vas must choose between watching his loved ones die or becoming darkness itself to save them.

Tropes: Dark Enemy, Fallen Hero, Found Family, Possession, Prophesy, Redemption Arc, Training, Ultimate Evil, Vengeful Spirit, Waiting/Sleeping Evil, Wise Mentor
Word Count: 112,000
Setting: Secondary world inspired by the Crusades
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Tropes: Dark Enemy, Fallen Hero, Found Family, Possession, Prophesy, Redemption Arc, Training, Ultimate Evil, Vengeful Spirit, Waiting/Sleeping Evil, Wise Mentor
Word Count: 112,000
Setting: Secondary world inspired by the Crusades
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

Vas sighed heavily then and let go of the light drawn from the mountain. As it receded, so too did the darkness, slipping back into the void quietly.

Vas held tight to the brothers in the sanctuary above him, trying to push shut the doors of the Pathway. But before he could close them, the doors blasted open and Vas was yanked back into the void. But he was still connected to the darkness, still open to the lights of the living world. He did the only thing he could think of, which was to tighten his focus on the praying brothers whose minds and souls were open to divine influence and who served as his anchor to the physical world. Vas held onto them as a drowning man in a flood might cling to a tree branch.


The darkness chuckled and, through Vas, reached out to draw on the lights of the praying brothers. The ether became a cacophony of screams and panic as the darkness used Vas to consume their light. Not satisfied with just these lives, the entity turned its gaze upon Terag Knotia and Durnan, which shone in the distance like beacons, teaming with life in many forms.

Even as it reached out again, Vas clawed and fought to re-enter his own being. It wanted Durnan, where Raena was. But he had to think of Kantrel and Chanda, their children, and the unborn babe as well. With all his will and strength, Vas sought the edges of the Pathway, and with the dead and dying brothers above him as his anchor, he pulled himself from the void. He screamed and fought with all his being to force closed the doors of the Pathway with the last traces of emotional and mental resolve he possessed.

With the Pathway closed, Vas collapsed on the cold floor. He lay there panting, physically exhausted from the spiritual battle he had been forced to fight, knowing bone-deep that he had lost and that, because of him, so too had many others. The damage done was massive, irreparable, and entirely his fault.

Reviews:AS- Amazon verified review on Amazon wrote:

Author Simon Graeme hits it out of the park with a rousing dark fantasy that's more than just hack & slash action. Vas, the book's main character, is faced with a moral dilemma. He's torn between using his heaven-sent powers for good or for his own purposes. Once he makes his choice, he realizes the consequences of his actions and embarks upon a journey of redemption with more at stake than just his life - his failure could plunge the world into a darkness from which it may never emerge.

"Dark Lament" is a thoroughly entertaining book, and a great start to the series. The prose is fast-moving and punchy, with blood and guts in the right spots. Between the action scenes, we get candid views into the lives of the characters who inhabit the world of "Dark Lament," their lives, hopes, fears, and motivations. All told, it's a splendid book for fans of fantasy adventure.

H. Salidba- Amazon review on Amazon wrote:

Vas is being pulled by darkness, but he strives to stay in the light. He wants to be a healer, and he is such a sweet character. An untimely accident puts him at odds with Heaven's will and opens him up to much darker forces. I found Vas to be a strong character determined to resist these darker forces as his mentor helps him to understand them better. This is such a cool story within a story as it shows how history repeats itself and the means does not beget a happier ending. This story does deal with death and bringing the dead back to life. It also has strong good vs. evil themes, and I found myself rooting for the main character. There are so many great characters and twists in this book. I was not disappointed and couldn't even begin to guess what would come next. There was no bodily mutilation or graphic sexual content.

Dark Lament is book 1 of The Black Crusade series. It is an entrant in the Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO9) contest. It is dark fantasy which manifests as horror with a fantasy setting and tropes. Book 2 will release this fall (2023) and is called The Iron Cross. Book 3 is called Heretic's Song and will release in 2024. The series is planned at 4-5 books.

About the Author

Simon Graeme is a dark fantasy author, born 1976 in rural Ohio. Growing up in poverty gave him a dark and gritty view of the world. Growing up in a real haunted house gave him the permanent stain of the macabre that dominates his writing. He considers Brian Lumley, Ann Rice, and Roger Zelazny his biggest influences. Simon has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing, is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing, worked as Managing Editor of Prose for the Oddville Press, and received honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future 2015. After working in the retail mines and then the corporate gulag, Simon became a high school teacher but was forced into early retirement after an attempt on his life by a handful of blood clots and a stupid heart, which led to a stroke. These days he spends his days with his wife and youngest son in southern Illinois writing full-time, with several ongoing Black Crusade-focused projects, while learning to make knives. Yes, wonderful stabby stabby knives.