Journal of Always

Oh, how much I love the melding of genres. To mix and match different aspects of specific literary tropes and use them to tell a truly original and captivating tale can be a wonderful thing to experience, when executed correctly. It then becomes nothing but a story, allowing the reader to concentrate on the strength of the tale being told rather than if they followed all the requisite “rules” ascribed to said genre – ala, in the case of fantasy, the use of magic, mystical beasts, and world-building. (Review of Sword of the Archon)


Carnifex is a masterpiece of sword and sorcery storytelling. A visceral yet thoughtful epic of a dwarf (Carnifex), his people (the dwarfs of Arx Cravis), and a series of unusual occurrences which point toward an ominous future for our bearded protagonist. And whether you are already a fan of D.P. Prior’s Aethir books (Shader, The Nameless Dwarf, and Husk) or a newcomer to the paradoxical world of Aethir, this novel is an amazing place to start your journey, because it is as smooth a sword and sorcery brew as has been concocted in many a year.

Black Gate Magazine

Despite the desperate action sequences, much of Carnifex is surprisingly domestic, dwelling on the relationship between Carn and his father and Lucius, and on Carn’s best friend Thumil and their mutual love interest Cordy. We see a lot about his position as a lieutenant in the Ravine Guard, his desire to see the world from which he’s forbidden, and the bouts of depression which frequently drag him down. These things form the core of Carnifex’s identity and loves. And getting to know, and care about, these parts of his life is the most difficult part of the book. Because by the end I did care about those people—all of them, including Carnifex, were flawed but fundamentally decent people. But I had read The Nameless Dwarf, and I knew what was coming, and how it all ends. That knowledge made the book both hard to continue reading and hard to put down.

Media Man, Amazon Vine Voice

Science-Fantasy is a hard sell for me at times. Even though I grew up watching plenty of animated programs which blended the genre well, I still have difficulty pairing the two together and landing in the realm of believability. This is especially true when reading a book of such nature. “Cadman’s Gambit” succeeds in accomplishing the crossover amazingly well. Although the story has a bit slow to start (which seems to lose some readers), Shader’s tale of redemption and Cadman’s ambitious villainy becomes incredibly engaging as plots unfold. Combine this with Prior’s exceptional writing skills, editing, characters and world building and you have a series unlike anything in the genre today.


By the end of [Carnifex] I thought I had an idea of what the outcome would be but I was wrong footed I guess.

And then we come to the final scene. It’s not often I’m left speechless but this was one of those times. WOW!!

Mid-West Book Review

[Carnifex is] an impressively compelling and highly entertaining action/adventure story that is especially commended for community library collections.


Kirkus Reviews

Prior weaves a fully realized world in this rich fantasy, from history, political structure, and family life to work, food, drinking (lots of drinking), and romance. The characters are also well-developed. Carnifex, for example, though a doughty fighter and drinker in the best dwarf tradition, struggles with a black-dog depression that “feasted on scraps of vitality, hunted for glimmers of hope and happiness.” Dwarf women play a larger and more vigorous role than in most fantasy novels, as when “hammering out a beat on the top of a long table, froth spraying from their whiskers.” … Immersive worldbuilding adds texture to this dark, intriguing tale about a fighter.


Smash Dragons

I loved so many things about Carnifex that it is hard to know where to start. The setting is wonderfully cast, and the world building rich and layered with nuggets of information that brought smiles to my face as I read. I adored the design of the Arx Gravis, and lapped up the descriptions of it and its people with glee. Carnifex himself, along with the other main characters of this book (such Aristodeus, Lucius, and Droom) are perfectly cast, with Prior capturing their heart and soul whilst also adding layers of difference to their usual stereotypes. I also adored how Prior flipped many well known tropes on their head, such as the notion that dwarves are immutably welded to the past and resistant to change.

And holy shit… the battle scenes. THE BATTLE SCENES!!!


Ray Nicholson, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer

The prose [Ward of the Philosopher] was a joy to read, featuring writing skills that can mesmerize a reader and carry him/her off into another world; in this case a world of creepy horror and abject terror. And the most marvellous thing about this story is the depth of empathy and attachment the reader develops towards our young hero… all in a scant 21 pages.

Simply put, Derek Prior, as a fantasy/horror writer, just keeps getting better and better.

As it is… 5 Stars.


Sword of the Archon (Shader #1) by D.P. Prior is one of the best self-published fantasy that I’ve stumbled upon. Not to say that it is perfect, because nothing is ever without flaws. It is, however, a dynamic work of genre bending scifi, fantasy and horror that immediately brings to mind Stephen King’s seminal work: The Gunslinger, with its post-apocalyptic world, mysterious ruins of an advanced civilization, its mystical elements, and a main character in Shader who is just as gruff, haunted, and jaded as Roland Deschain.

The Bookie Monster

[Husk] oozes atmosphere from every page. You might not like Jeb by the end of it: he’s a sexist, egotistical, sociopathic, greedy, lecher but you understand him and his motivations. The writing style transports you to this far-off world and its backwards cultural values. It’s just familiar enough you don’t need things explained to you even as it both shocks you with its dark side and amuses you with its light.
I recommend this volume strongly.


Chad Stewart

Started Nameless Dwarf and read 4 books one day and night. David Gemmell’s one of my favorites, but your now up there with the best in my eyes. Good luck in life continue to do what makes you shine.


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