Read The Scar by Marina Dyachenko Sergey Dyachenko Elinor Huntington Online


Reaching far beyond sword and sorcery, The Scar is a story of two people torn by disaster, their descent into despair, and their reemergence through love and courage. Sergey and Marina Dyachenko mix dramatic scenes with romance, action and wit, in a style both direct and lyrical. Written with a sure artistic hand, The Scar is the story of a man driven by his own feverish dReaching far beyond sword and sorcery, The Scar is a story of two people torn by disaster, their descent into despair, and their reemergence through love and courage. Sergey and Marina Dyachenko mix dramatic scenes with romance, action and wit, in a style both direct and lyrical. Written with a sure artistic hand, The Scar is the story of a man driven by his own feverish demons to find redemption and the woman who just might save him. Egert is a brash, confident member of the elite guards and an egotistical philanderer. But after he kills an innocent student in a duel, a mysterious man known as “The Wanderer” challenges Egert and slashes his face with his sword, leaving Egert with a scar that comes to symbolize his cowardice. Unable to end his suffering by his own hand, Egert embarks on an odyssey to undo the curse and the horrible damage he has caused, which can only be repaired by a painful journey down a long and harrowing path. Plotted with the sureness of Robin Hobb and colored with the haunting and ominous imagination of Michael Moorcock, The Scar tells a story that cannot be forgotten....

Title : The Scar
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780765329936
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Scar Reviews

  • Bob Milne
    2019-05-17 20:52

    The Scar is one of the most original and most intriguing fantasy novels I've read in quite some time. It's a shame that the cover blurb tries so hard to compare it to the likes of Robin Hobb and Michael Moorcock, because the comparison really does the novel a disservice. I love them both, but they are truly unique authors with a style that's almost entirely their own. If you make the mistake of reading The Scar with those expectations, you're bound to be disappointed. However, if you go into it expecting only that Sergey & Marina Dyachenko will deliver a uniqueness that's all their own, you'll come away entirely satisfied.Considering this is a novel that begins with an entirely unlikable protagonist - rude, crude, brash, arrogant, condescending, and pitiless in his casual disregard for the feelings of others - it's surprising that the read so immediately captures your attention. There's not a lot going on in the opening chapters, but the writing is so fluid and poetic, and the characters so well established, that you find yourself drawn in. This is a world that's dark and bleak, with a shadow of gloom that hanging over all, but it's also one in which people can be good or bad, not because of their environment, but in spite of it.The speed and depth of Egert's fall from grace is almost as stunning to behold as it is chilling to experience. I can honestly say I have never before seen an author do such a compelling job of detailing a character's rank cowardice. To see the fearless, arrogant young captain reduced to whimpering against the coming of night, fainting from a fear of heights atop his horse, and nearly soiling himself at the slightest sound outside his door, is stunning. By the time his cowardice is exposed to those around him, and Egert is quite literally shamed out of his home, you're beginning to feel sorry for taking such delight in his comeuppance.Really, above all else, this is the story of Egert's fall from grace, his grudging acceptance of his new place in the world, and (ultimately) his hope for redemption. Had this been a typical fantasy novel, that redemption would likely have come about halfway through the story with the breaking of the curse, sending a once again brash young hero out to avenge his fate. Instead, Sergey & Marina leave their protagonist to cope with his bleak situation, with only the beautiful Toria around to provide any semblance of hope or joy. I honestly wasn't sure, until the very last page, whether or not Egert would ever find redemption, and I loved that uncertainty.A few brief words on the lovely Toria - while it's initially a little too convenient that the same woman who gave Egert reason to deserve the curse should also give him reason to escape it, the connection between the two develops naturally throughout the novel, entirely justifying the cycle they represent.Given all the mental and emotional turmoil, and the focus on Egert's cowardice, the climax of the novel could not have been better played. Shadowy cults, the threat of the black plague, double-crossing deals, and blackmail all add up to a situation that would test the best heroes, much less one so cursed by his own words and deeds. Definitely one of the most satisfying conclusions to a novel I've read in quite some time, it's also an ending that's as unique as the The Scar itself.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins

  • Gavin
    2019-05-19 17:31

    This was a unique and beautifully written story. It was more like a dark fairytale than a regular epic fantasy. It's the story of a vain and selfish man's painful journey through the depths of despair in order to find both redemption and love. Egert Sol is a cold, cruel, and arrogant young lieutenant in the Kavarin Guard. His good looks, bravery, and martial prowess have made him incredibly popular in his home town. They overlook his every fault. Sol's selfishness leads him to chase the beautiful fiancee of a visiting scholar. The girl, Toria, rejects his advances and in a rage Sol provokes her gentle, unskilled in weaponry, husband to be into a duel. After taunting and humiliating the scholar for a while an unfortunate slip sees the scholar score a small scratch on Sol. The baying mob react with laughter. Sol's pride is stung to the point that he reacts with rage and kills the terrified and over matched Scholar. Unfortunately for him the mysterious mage The Wanderer witnesses the duel. He proceeds to place the curse of cowardice upon Sol. From then on Sol's life is changed in an instant and his life takes a new path. One that leads through the darkness of pain and despair, but also one that leads to redemption, love, and a greater understanding of compassion. I loved the story. It had a very melancholic feel to it, but was always laced with the undercurrent of hope. To start with Egert was so easy to hate, but soon the Dyachenkos' had me feeling sympathetic towards him and then, more impressively, actually liking and rooting for him to beat his curse! I loved the way both Toria and Egert grew as characters throughout the story. It was well done and it made it easy to believe in their developing feelings for each other. This was a story unlike any other I have ever read. It was very enjoyable.Rating: 4.5 stars. I've rounded up to 5 stars because the book deserves it. Audio Note: Jonathan Davis is an excellent narrator and he almost matches his incredible performance of The Shadow of the Wind while narrating this book. He has a smooth voice and was able to coney a wide array of emotions. His performance really enhanced my enjoyment of the book as it was almost like I could feel Egert's every emotion!

  • H.
    2019-05-13 19:34

    The Scar is the type of book that makes you weep for the limitations of sub-genre delineations. Not epic in scope and apparently intended to stand alone despite being part of a larger cycle. The epic and fantastic elements that presumably tie together the larger cycle are there, but very much in the background. This is really a novel about three people. Where so much fantasy is so very epic, The Scar is incredibly intimate. At the same time, it does not share the heavy reliance on action and violent conflict of most Sword & Sorcery. It perhaps better resembles a fully formed, and in many ways very traditional, fairy tale.At its heart, The Scar is a tale of two people (and another person linked to both) whose lives are eternally altered and inextricably linked by a senseless murder. It is a tale of a terrible and well deserved curse. It is a tale of arrogance, fear, humiliation, cowardice, and redemption. It is a tale of pride, grief, and forgiveness. The great strength of Russian literature is its ability to plumb the depths of the tortures of the human condition. The Scar shares this ability and brings it to a fantasy setting.The other tremendous strength of Russian literature is, oddly enough, the language. The prose is halting, haunting, and lyrical, as that of all great Russian literature seems to be. E.g., “A delicate, sweetish, slightly smoky fragrant was soon added to the bitter smell of the velvet. As he gazed at the black partition in front of him, Egert’s hearing became unusually acute. He heard a variety of sounds: far and near, subdued and susurrant, as if a horde of dragonflies were creeping about the inside of a glass jar, brushing their wings against the transparent walls.”As I implied above, The Scar is very light on action and very heavy on character development and depth and the interrelations of the characters. All three main characters are exceptionally well drawn and three-dimensional. Of course not everyone cares for this sort of thing and it’s hard to do for any author not named Dostoevsky, but when it’s done right it can, to my mind, create something of spectacular beauty that leaves an imprint on one’s soul, a true artistic masterpiece. I humbly submit that The Scar is such a work (and it still reads much easier than Dostoevsky, not the least because it dispenses with Russian naming conventions). The world of The Scar is adroitly drawn, albeit only with the broadest of strokes. The book takes place almost entirely within two cities. Fantastic elements are largely limited to mages and the mysterious and ominous Order of the Lash (neither of which are fully explained), oblique references to some great threat to the entire world, and the enigmatic Wanderer.

  • David
    2019-05-01 18:47

    Wow. What an unexpectedly great read. I was hoping for some basic fantasy that might be a little bit different since this novel was originally written in Russian. The Scar is indeed basic fantasy — basic, solid fantasy with no great innovations in worldbuilding or ideas, nothing that fantasy readers aren't thoroughly familiar with — but the writing, the descriptive details, and the character arcs that drive the story, are all so deft and evocative that The Scar is like a shiny, perfect apple sitting in a cart full of apples of acceptable but clearly lesser quality.I would compare The Scar somewhat with Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, not in terms of style or story, as the Dyanchenkos' writing is quite different from Rothfuss's, but in the way it takes a story that's old hat, old school fantasy and still makes it new and interesting. Part of this is the writing, which was particularly delightful since translations are always a bit iffy, but while of course I can't compare it to the original Russian, there was a ton of evocative imagery, descriptive detail, and strong emotions conveyed in prose that pushes this book into something of true literary quality.The story is mostly about Egert Soll, a brash, philandering swordsman who's basically every jock bully writ large: he steals his friends' girls, he bullies and brags and treats the world as his playground, full of mud puddles that exist to be splashed in other peoples' faces, and he gets away with it because everyone loves him.Then he kills an innocent student in a duel that's murder in all but name, the ultimate act of jock-on-nerd bullying. He leaves the student's fiancee bereft and heartbroken.This is all the set up for Egert's oh-so-very-well-deserved smackdown. His comeuppance is delivered by a mysterious mage called the Wanderer, who goads Egert into a duel and inflicts a magical scar on Egert that curses him with cowardice.While this has the feel of a traditional fairy tale (or perhaps a Russian folk tale), it's Egert's curse that makes the story. Until that point, Egert has been a completely unlikable schmuck, someone you can't wait to see get dirt rubbed in his face. And when he kills Toria's fiancee, you figure he's passed the moral event horizon and you can't possibly feel anything but disgust for him and a desire to see him suffer.And suffer he does. And pretty soon you are feeling sorry for Egert Soll. The curse soon turns him into a feeble husk of a man, a hollowed-out shell of his former self who can't even take his own life. And as things get worse and worse, a remarkable thing happens: not only does Egert become sympathetic, but he becomes likable. By a cruel and ironic twist of fate, he is brought face to face with Toria again, the fiancee of the student he killed. And Toria, who also feels nothing but disgust for him initially, comes to feel sympathy for him as well.By the time the fate of their city, and of Toria, hangs on Egert's ability to overcome his curse, you are not just rooting for him, you're cheering for him. The climax is both epic and again resonant of traditional fairy tales: Egert is given very specific instructions as to what he has to do to get out from under his curse, and of course things do not turn out quite the way he expects.On the surface, this is a swords & sorcery novel, but the sorcery is treated the way sorcery should be, as something vague and mysterious and not usually seen, a plot device rather than a suit of powers. And there are only a few swordfights, and each one serves a very specific and dramatic purpose in the plot.So, this isn't really a swords & sorcery novel at all, though it has all the trappings. It's a very psychological novel about egotism, courage and cowardice, grief, and redemption. It's a heroic epic and a romance, and a dark Russian fairy tale with shades of Rothfuss, Wolfe, and Dostoevsky. There's some action and a little bit of magic, but the character arcs are more important than the plot arc.Apparently the Dyanchenkos are very popular fantasy authors in Russia, yet this novel is the first one to be translated into English. I hope more follow. While this book may not appeal to you if you have no interest in traditional fantasy, I highly recommend it for all fantasy readers, and I'd argue that it has a psychological depth that transcends its genre.

  • Marquise
    2019-05-15 15:37

    Excellent! All those comments telling that this is how it'd be like if Dostoyevsky had writen a Fantasy book are quite right: it really does read so. Nobody weaves bleak and soul-crushing yet hopeful plots like Russians can, and the style of the Dyachenkos does resemble Fyodor Mikhailovich's in two ways: the bleak/hopeful narrative and in how they handle redemption arcs. Those who have read Dostoyevsky will remember that when he is bent on redeeming a character, he believes in redemption through suffering, mental and/or physical. And so do Marina & Sergey Dyachenko, to judge from how they wrote the redemption of Egert Soll, the incorrigible and easy-to-hate rake, drunkard, seducer of honest women, and overall piece of work that is the protagonist here. Me, I love redemption stories, second opportunities and the will to better one's lot in life, so when I read in the blurb that The Scar had such a plot, it didn't take much convincing to pick it up. And I'm glad that it turned out to be a very good story, rather traditional when it comes to genre conventions, but with personages so well characterised that they drive forth the story themselves. There's romance to add to the character redemption and a good dose of swashbuckling derring-do as well, all with very little fantasy as to be taken for a normal medieval or Renaissance novel.

  • Tosh
    2019-04-29 22:51

    It is no misfortune if you do not know where you are going; it is far worse when there is no longer anywhere to go. He who stands on the path of experience cannot step away from it, even when it has come to its end. For the path is without end.*Possible spoilers*I loved this story. I have to be honest. I’m a total sucker for stories of redemption. There’s nothing more satisfying than to see someone, no matter how despicable, change for the better. In this instance though the main character, Egert, is not changing of his own volition. He's cursed - forced to be the kind of man he has always despised, forced to view life from a different perspective. I felt a lot of emotions throughout this book, but pity was probably the strongest. There was no doubt this man deserved at least a portion of his plight, but with every new experience it became harder and harder to watch Egert slip into hopelessness and despair. It had me wishing he could find some way of overcoming this horrible existence. This story is a little bit different from the usual fantasy. With the exception of the magical curse, and a few events that happen toward the end, the story focuses more on the emotional and physical turmoil of the main character than any of the usual fantasy elements. There’s not a whole lot of action, the reader spends a good amount of time in Egert’s head, and a growing romance becomes central to the last portion of the story. If that sounds just like something you don’t want to read, please don’t let that deter you. It’s a very good book. This is the second book in a series that was originally published in Russian, and the only one of the series translated into English. But not to worry if you're thinking of picking it up. With the exception of one character, who definitely deserves his own book, this reads as a standalone. And, hopefully with enough reader interest maybe the publishers will see it in their hearts to make the translations available in the future.*fingers crossed* But for now this is all us English speakers/readers will get.

  • Mia Darien
    2019-05-15 19:33

    It's like when you see a beautiful performance, but one that is sad or haunting. Someone singing or dancing, some artistic expression, that moves you profoundly, but in such a way that when it's over, you don't know if you should applaud or not. It is not a performance that inspires a burst of jubilation, but it was so good that you know you should applaud.This book had an interesting meandering quality to the plot. Something I think that if it had been presented to an American publisher, they may have torn right out of it in their great efforts to make every book unique and exactly like every other out there. This was originally published in Russian, but I find that the Russian-to-English novels I've read have a very unique feeling that I like.I felt this book very strongly. I think perhaps Egert's struggles with his curse resounded with me because I fight a chronic and sometimes nearly crippling Anxiety Disorder. While it is not as pronounced or like his, anyone whose fought that intense, irrational, uncontrollable fear will, I think, understand this book best.But the wandering -- an appropriate word for it -- never lets you fall out of the book. You flow with it in it's haunting, lyrical sense. And yet it's very... direct, like the dust jacket calls it. It is indeed lyrical and direct. You just... flow along with the characters, over the passing of time, in this tragic, beautiful, strange tale.In the end you realize that when the performance is truly that beautiful, jubilant or not, you must applaud. I don't think I'll be forgetting this story any time soon.

  • Robert Delikat
    2019-05-21 15:43

    This was one extraordinary book, one that I could not stop reading / listening to. While this husband and wife team have been writing and receiving awards for books since 1994, their works are, for the most part, in the Ukrainian and Russian languages. Written in 1997, The Scar is apparently the first to be translated into English and has only come to Western shores this year. While this is the middle book of a trilogy, unlike other trilogies, this installment stands quite well on its own though I hope that the remaining installments become available in English. I cannot wait to read them. These are masterful writers.While not one for spoilers, I will only say that this is a book of the fantasy genre that, while there is sorcery and sword-fighting, none of it is gratuitous. While there is a great deal about love, there is not too much romance. For my liking, all of these were good attributes. The book is about great courage and great cowardice, self-discovery and redemption. This is a wonderfully rich and vivid story about our humanity, our psychology and the nature of both. For me, perhaps the most powerful aspect of the book had to do with the power of forgiveness. This is story-telling at its best.When beginning to listen to this book, I was already engaged (but not engrossed) in listening to one and reading another literary work of fiction. I was becoming drained by the complexity and work that I had to put into both. The Scar’s simplicity allowed me to just relax and enjoy one of the more remarkable books I have read/listened to. While simple in its parable-, morality play-like nature, it still had the depth and richness of quintessential Russian literature. The characters are richly and completely drawn. The plot is riveting, surprising and unpredictable to the end. The prose, perhaps owing to the translation by Elinor Huntington, is engrossing, lyrical and poetically beautiful. The narration by Jonathan Davis did justice to the book. Sometimes narrators are so good that they draw one’s focus away from the book and toward the performer. For the most part, that was not the case with this selection. The narrator disappeared and the book revealed itself in all of its beauty. I will say this, though, there are passages in which the narrator’s voice became possibly a bit too stentorian. That was a distraction for me but the passages were few and far between. I think that it was a personal thing and I will not dock him for it. He did a superb job.Rating this book is difficult for me. Thinking out loud, I would like to give it 5 stars but I gave that number to The Brothers Karamazov. 4 stars might suggest that the book was less than stellar. I would like to rate it within the context of the rest of the trilogy because of some unmentioned comments but two-thirds of that are unavailable. So, in the interest of enticing you to rather than dissuading you from reading this masterpiece, my fine reader of reviews, 5 Stars it is. You will not be disappointed.

  • Angela Boord
    2019-04-25 16:32

    I would give this book 10 stars if I could. Amazing, lovely, expertly written. It takes so many "rules" of fiction and stands them on their heads and ends up with a beautiful story of love and courage.

  • Сергей Бережной
    2019-05-23 17:57

    Some 15 years ago I'd got the original manuscript of THE SCAR from Marina and Sergey - it meant to be published soon, one of the novels initiated "Spellbound Worlds" series of Russian fantasy books, Terra Fantastica and AST publishing houses joint project. In 1996 I'd read Dyachenkos' debut novel already, THE GATE-KEEPER, and I liked it. Some of their shorts and novellas were really nice too. But THE SCAR turned to be something completely different. Absolutely new level of artistry. Not just good, but literally masterpiece - compelling, deep and sharp, frighteningly strong. Could it be the second novel of the newcomers? It was really hard to believe. Being published in 1997, THE SCAR got a notable success and immediately placed Dyachekos' name on the list of most valuable domestic writers, border-breakers of the genre. In fact, the book never was out-of-print since the first edition in Russia, and it's no wonder that it was translated abroad in time - for example, in Poland, the country with a strong traditions of genre reading. And now THE SCAR casts overseas, thanks to Tor Books. I just hope the novel in translation of Elinor Huntington will be as impressive as original was, but my English is far from perfect and I cannot judge this. But you can. And you will.To get the first impression you can read prologue and the first chapter of THE SCAR online. And then we'll wait for February, 28. I'll read you soon. Take care.

  • Phil
    2019-05-17 22:57

    Here's a extract from my review, full link: is not evident to witness and follow the setbacks and adventures, which are not particularly extravagant, of a person under this wasting condition during a whole novel. The feelings of the young and pitiful captain are at the heart of the account and the complete pallet of possible reactions and state of mind come to pass. Sergey mentioned that he added a layer of psychology and even of psychiatry to the story. This element is literally palpable. Doubtlessly, the real interest of The Scar can truly be found in the quest of Egert and all the difficulties he has to cope with. It is by pondering this aspect that you should decide if this kind of tale is for you. We are far from an epic account, it is personal, very human and emotional, slightly too much for me in retrospect. I think that the core of the novel is probably from the mind of Marina more than Sergey. It is all assumptions but the feminine writing is felt all over the narration in the depiction of the characters behaviors.

  • Richard
    2019-05-26 16:40

    In full disclosure, I won an Advanced Uncorrected Proof edition of this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway.This book is the story of Egert. He begins as a confident, somewhat cruel, aggressive, womanizing youth who is a member of the guards. One day, he kills the fiance of a woman he is pursuing and as a result is challenged to a duel by a mysterious stranger. The stranger leaves Egert with a scar and a curse that leaves him a coward. The bulk of the book deals with Egerts downfall and attempt to overcome his curse.There is no hint that this book has been translated from another language. It is beautifully written the language is almost poetic at times. A big congratulations should go to Elinor Huntington who wrote the translation, and to Sergey and Marina Dyachenko who wrote the original story. The details are fantastic, close attention has been paid to character traits, for example, after Egert has been cursed, he has a number of habits that he has to perform to help him overcome his nervousness in a stressful situation. The descriptions of the locations and events are also wonderfully detailed and helps the reader visualize the world.The pacing of the book is excellent. Egert goes through a number of stages during his journey and each is just about the right length. Not so short that you feel like you missed out or that he takes unrealistic jumps in his development, not too long as to become dull. Although I would like to have seen shorter chapters (each chapter is about 30 pages long) as it would make it easier to get to the end of a chapter in a single sitting.The character of Egert is interesting, initially he is quite unlikeable but for several reasons this is okay. We know this is a story of redemption so he needs to start off with some bad traits, he is only bad for the early part of the book and he is loved by those around him so his character for the setting he is in, isn't seen as a bad person.From reading the outline of the book I was concerned that this would be more of a romance story, this wasn't the case however. It was more of a fantasy with romantic elements in it, no more than many other fantasy novels. It was done much more intelligently than in other fantasy stories and was much more believable. The ending is fantastic, the tension is really cranked up and you cannot stop reading because you want to find out what happens to the characters you have grown to love.This is more of a thinking-persons fantasy story than a action adventure, which as it turns out is actually a good thing unless of course you want to read only high action stories. The book is excellent, the story is very interesting and so very intelligently written with superb details and descriptions. With so many great qualities and hardly any problems I can confidently give this book 5/5 stars.For the benefit of the publisher I will include a few of the errors I spotted.p. 19 "He learned to swim and walk on ropes," I believe this is missing a comma after swim.p. 54 "Tail, Nutty, be moderately greedy," This doesn't make sense.p. 86 "'Oink, oink.' The collectors returned yesterday from the suburbs" From the context at this point in the story 'yesterday' doesn't seem right, possibly it should be 'the next day'p. 152 "But as chance would have it, one day an old man, white-haired as the moon, road through the village on a horse." 'road' should be 'rode'

  • K.M. Weiland
    2019-04-30 20:42

    This is such a unique book. It has a fable-istic, almost Grimm’s fairy tale feel to it, with its story of a proud, selfish young man humbled by an arbitrary magician’s curse of cowardice. It’s beautiful and well-plotted, with just enough weirdness to feel original. The downside is that it does grow tedious following the poor, cowardly wretch around all book long—but it’s worth it for his redemption scene in the end!

  • Aliette
    2019-05-08 19:53

    I came to this cold, more or less (it came heavily recommended by a couple of friends, and I'd enjoyed Sergey and Marina Dyachenko's fantastic "Vita Nostra", but I had no idea what to expect). This is the story of Ergert Soll, a braggart and bully who goes one step too far and accidentally kills Dinar, the fiancé of student Toria. Egert finds himself cursed by the Wanderer to be a coward--so swamped by fear he's totally unable to function. Meanwhile, Toria struggles with the loss of her fiancé; and with the appearance in Egert in her life when the latter comes to the city where her father is the Dean of the University. But all is not well: in the background, fanatics known as the Order of Lash seek to bring about the end of the world; and are ready to do anything for this.. This is a tight, character-driven study of two people and how they cope with loss and fear and the rising madness brought by the Order of Lash. I loved the intimate scenes at the university and how they opened up on a larger world, while remaining intimately focused on Toria/Egert. The theme of redemption is one I'm personally always happy to read, and here I thought it was well done if not 100% surprising (but the catharsis at the climax is wonderful done and had me on the edge of my seat). I expected this to be larger-scale and to deal with the brotherhood of Lash; but I'm really it didn't--part of why it works is the tight focus, and Egert and Toria both having to make stands. I wish we'd seen more from Toria at the climax; the narrative ends up feeling a little unbalanced. But it's well worth a read, and it's quite unlike anything else I've ever read. Recommended.

  • Desinka
    2019-05-06 20:55

    This is the story of an arrogant and villainous young man who happens to get cursed for killing an innocent man and then walks all the way to love and redemption. I started The Scar without many expectations. I actually thought I would find it easy to associate with because of the Russian authors. What I got was a dark and a bit weird story that read more like a fairytale than a fantasy book. I had a hard time with the book to start with. I was horrified by the grotesquely negative MC, Egert, started as. I found all his actions exaggerated and unrealistic. Things didn't change when Egert got cursed. I started to warm to any of the characters way past the middle of the book. I ended up enjoying the latter part and I found the ending quite satisfying. On the whole, I had problems with both the characters and the story. For me, the characters lacked depth and this was a story whose sole purpose was to deliver an equivocal and loud edifying message to the reader. Combined with the dark feel of the story (I expected Baba Yaga to appear in her claw-legged cottage any time!), I was annoyed for the better part of the book. I think the story benefited a lot from Jonathan Davis' narration. My overall rating is 3.5 stars. I'm rounding up because of the latter part of the book and the narration.

  • Luke Burrage
    2019-05-17 22:47

    Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #161.Just so you know, this is a *really* fun book! I understand why Jonathan Davis (the narrator) recommended it as one of the most interesting books he has read recently.

  • Tudor Ciocarlie
    2019-05-05 15:33

    Great story about redemption with a gorgeous eastern-european perfume. The english-language SFF genre desperately needs this kind of infusion.

  • Danielle
    2019-05-10 20:59

    Fantastic. Unexpectedly fairytale-esque, which turned out to be a really good thing.

  • Michael
    2019-04-27 20:40

    I haven't read a book quite like this before. The themes of pride, arrogance, justice, cowardice, love, forgiveness, and redemption are all familiar, of course. But the use of language is stunning—especially when held up against most modern fantasy writing. There is a formality to the writing that is rare—I can only compare it to some of Michael Scott Rohan's magnificent prose in his Winter of the World trilogy. But beyond formality is the rich use of metaphor—yes, metaphor, not it's lesser cousin simile—which allowed the husband-and-wife authors to infuse me with understanding of the horror of one who is afflicted with cowardice, as well as the revulsion of others for one so afflicted. The dialog is sparse and powerful, with a cast of introverts and deep emotions. The authors have created a setting that is almost palpably real, and they have done so without adjective abuse, using instead verbs—wonderful verbs!—and metaphor to advance the story.The dueling scenes are excellent and powerful. The transformation of the protagonist is artfully done, and I eventually found myself liking him, to my surprise. I don't know much about Russian culture, but I suspect that the authors are tapping into some deep themes of Russian culture—there is a depth to the story that goes beyond what is written. This book is translated from Russian, but if I hadn't read the publisher's notes beforehand, I wouldn't have known it. My hat is off to the translator as much as to the authors. I am very happy that Tor Books brought this story to the U.S.

  • Tom Callaway
    2019-05-22 18:56

    I wasn't quite sure at first what to make of the odd way that the words flowed in this book, almost poetic or musical in nature, but once I got accustomed to it, I became enveloped in this tale of redemption, magic, mystery, and death. At times, I had to slow down a bit to understand a few things, but I attribute those moments to translation choices. I found myself finishing this book long after I should have gone to bed, still moved by the ending. This book is unlike practically any other fantasy novel I've ever read, but I think this is a good thing, even if it does make the task of reviewing it a bit more daunting. In retrospect, I think that none of the significant characters were shallow or simple, all were flawed humans, a challenging feat to pull off without abusing stereotypes. Truly a fantastic work, and I hope that other books in this series find their way through translation.

  • Jeff Miller
    2019-04-25 20:50

    This novel is more like a folk tale than traditional fantasy. Egert is a young man who is on top of his world. A womanizer and a talented duelist. Full of pride with no empathy for others. His prideful actions seeking one women leads to an action that troubles his conscience in no way, but a later encounter with a mysterious man changes his life forever.Just a wonderfully told story with a strong moral depth. Held me captivated throughout.

  • Paul
    2019-05-23 15:46

    The Scar seemed a little one dimensional to me. I liked the first part of the book a little past the point that he meets the Wanderer (for the action), and I liked the ending. But, the middle was a bit directionless and agonizing.

  • Mike
    2019-04-26 17:44

    The Scarby Marina and Sergey Dyachenko appears to be the authors’ first translation into English. The Dyanchenko’s are rather prolific in the non-English European market and particularly in those states whose members are part of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Translation isn’t an easy thing but I’m always saddened when it takes works like this (well reviewed, and a recipient of prestigious awards in its home market) more than a decade to get translated and even further depressed by the fact that I never bothered to expand my borders by learning a new language (something never really emphasized in the American Education system, but that is still a poor excuse). Elinor Huntington deserves some serious recognition for doing a superb job with the translation. Not that I can compare against the Russian but I never noticed any major bumps that threw me out of the story.The publisher’s blurb for The Scar places under the umbrella of the sword and sorcery genre and that works to an extent. There is a certain traditional feel to the prose (here I’m assuming that is intended rather than a consequence of the translation) but one that definitely calls to mind the works of the more lyrical swords and sorcery of yesterday like Howard or Moore (the blurb cites Robin Hobb and Michael Moorcock). However, The Scar is a more direct study of character and consequence than modern fantasies and leans much less heavily on action than traditional sword and sorcery. This novel is its own unique fantasy (not quite heroic not quite epic) and one that is a breath of fresh air amongst the grim and gritty (which I still love) and even the more traditional epic fantasies available today.The Scar introduces readers to the rather despicable character Egert and arrogant, womanizing, and generally all around disgusting member of the an elite town guard. Egert, a textbook narcissist, is by-and-large our hero. One fateful day Egert provokes a not-so-martial student into a dual and winds up killing him. Egert, seeing this as no big deal is even more surprised when he is himself challenged to a duel by a mysterious Wanderer. The Wanderer leaves Egert a live but with a scar; one both tangible and not-so-tangible. From there the novel follows Egert’s journey towards possible redemption.The authors do a wonderful job in setting up Egert as a complete and total ass. Indeed I was glad to see him get his comeuppance so early in the novel. However, it wasn’t long before I started to wonder if Egert’s scar had slipped past just into the realm of cruel and unusual. You are left wondering whether or not the scar, should it ever be removed, would have any lasting impact on Egert or whether he would return to his old way. Was the Egert seen during the majority of the novel simply someone produced by the magic of the scar or were the changes precipitated by the scar something deeper than what could initially be seen. Egert’s own uncertainty and the author’s deft and consistent refusal to hint one way or another certainly aids this aspect of the plot. Of course about halfway through the book you get a glimpse, or at least hear the echo, of wheels within wheels.It is worth noting that The Scar is actually the second book in a three book sequence (note I’m not using the word trilogy). The first is a book called The Gate-Keeper. There is some mention of a Gate Keeper in a story told by Toria’s father and I suspect he does an apt job of summarizing that early untranslated novel. I didn’t know about this when I read The Scar and the novel work’s amazingly well as a stand-alone. The Archmage’s story is tied to the mysterious figure of The Wanderer. If The Wanderer, under another name, played a bigger part in the first novel I’m not sure I would have enjoyed The Scar quite as much as I did. His role as sort of mysterious and inscrutable force in The Scar works perfectly unburdened by any prior knowledge on the part of the reader. I have to wonder how such of foreknowledge of who or what The Wanderer is or was would impact my reaction to his appearance in The Scar. Furthermore, as is the Archmage’s tale of the Gate Keeper draws a rather subtle parallel to Egert’s situation that I feel would not work nearly as well if it were revealed in a more overt fashion; it would certain ruin some of the rather lyrical ending sequence. As is The Scar is an engaging and moving fantasy that hopefully marks the beginning of the Dyachenkos’ translation into English.

  • Nathan
    2019-05-02 19:48

    Fantasy Review BarnSometimes grabbing things off the shelf randomly pays off. Sometimes translations are done seamlessly. Sometimes collaboration’s don’t completely suck. Sometimes the guy behind my computer screen doesn’t have a damn clue how to open a review.Perhaps with comparisons to other well-known fantasy works of recent history? I guess I could try. Egert has the wit and brains of Locke Lamora combined with the arrogant assholeness of Jezal dan Luther... Scratch that comparisons are no good if everyone doesn’t know the source.Well hell, I have been on vacation for a week, I am taking the lazy way out and opening with a summery. Egert is living the good life in the elite guards. Perhaps not loved by all, but certainly the man many aspire to be. He has a way with the ladies, more talent than he knows what to do with and an almost unquenchable thirst for thrills (with no problem risking the lives of others to satisfy his thirst). We first meet him engaging in a barroom knife throwing contest; using a young serving girl to hold his props. A short run of his exploits are given, many resulting in him making a fool out of someone else while basking in his own glory.So it continues when Egert notices a pretty young student visiting town with her fiancé. Always wanting what someone else has he pokes and prods until the young man feels compelled to challenge Egert to a duel. When the duel ends the visitor is dead in the street, fiancé Toria is crying, and a mysterious stranger remembers Egert’s face. When this wanderer leaves a mark on Egert’s face in a later duel the book takes off.Take a look at what the authors have done here. A thoroughly unlikable character without being a complete psychopath. Not an antihero, we are not supposed to like him. Not a villain either, no cheap clichés are employed to make us hate him. No murders, tortures, rapes, or cussing out of elderly in his path. Instead we see a realistic bully, high on the praise he consistently gets, who’s ‘crime’ is seen as completely defensible by the laws he has grown up with.So when this unlikable man is marked by the wanderer the change we see is shocking. Our brash lead character is suddenly unlikable in a completely different way; a sniveling coward. Which is more horrible, the death he caused? Or pushing a woman out of a hiding place as he dives into it when the bandits come? It will be a long path to get back what he once had. Along the way he will fail test after test, including some particularly cruel actions made by former friends.Egert’s possible redemption story is only half of the book though. That fateful night didn’t just affect him and the dead man; a young lady watched her life plans changed completely with the thrust of a sword. Toria also falls into the lowest point of her life. Of course she eventually meets Egert again. Of course their story becomes intertwined. To speak of it would spoil half the book, but be sure it was moving. Sacrifices must be made by both, lives are saved and bonds are made over the worst of starting circumstances. Toria's arc never over takes Egert's, but rather than playing second fiddle it eventually merges into one cohesive story. Very well done. In the background of this story of redemption and rebuilding is an interesting fantasy backdrop. A cult makes a major power play. A lone mage uses everything he can to stop some serious forces. And the Wanderer comes back for a rare ending that both does what I was hoping but surprised me in how it was done.A real gem of a story found by accident, smart and full of heart, and recommended for anyone looking for a fantasy outside the norm. 4 stars

  • Ryan
    2019-05-13 17:46

    Several people whose opinions I respect gave this novel high marks, and I agree with them. The Scar was originally written by Ukrainian authors in the 1990s, and has a folkloric, parable-like character that makes for a somewhat different reading experience from typical American or British fantasy.Its protagonist is a young, swaggering nobleman named Egert, who’s quite skilled with a sword and at seducing the wives of other men, but has little real respect for anyone. After making a bullying pass at the beautiful fiancee of a student, he ends up in duel with the student, and kills the young man, who isn’t a very capable fighter. This attracts the attention of a mysterious traveler, who curses Egert with the affliction most shameful to him: cowardice.At first, Egert’s reduction to a terrified, contemptible wretch seems like his just deserts, but slowly the authors get us to pity, then empathize with him. Driven out of his hometown, he discovers a crushing human truth: that everyone has problems, and that his are of no great concern to the world. Ironically, the only place that welcomes him is the university he once disdained, where a kind professor and a few friendly students take him under their wing. But, troubles remain: he must once again face Toria, the fiancee of the student he killed, and a mysterious cult that has its own designs on him. Meanwhile, the curse of cowardice keeps its claws in him, its cure seemingly requiring that he find the one who bestowed it.The Dyachenkos’ level of artistry is impressive. Even in translation, the writing, imagery, and metaphor have a timeless, lyrical quality that make the world breath with familiarity and meaning. The central characters struggle with their inner conflicts in a way that's complex and has thematic depth. As with other (translated) Russian-sphere novels I've read, there seems to be some implicit commentary on the human condition, though I lack the cultural insight to grasp the full perspective.The world-building is a little basic compared to other fantasy, but the universe that the Dyachenkos create has enough colorful bits that I'd be glad to visit again (apparently, they’ve set other books in it). I enjoyed the dramatic conclusion, which offers a chance at redemption to Egert, though not without cost to him, Toria, and other characters, and left me contemplating the differences between simple fear and true moral cowardice. I thought there were also good questions about how bad experiences, even deeply regrettable ones, can lead to purpose that might not have been found otherwise.While The Scar isn't quite complex enough to break out of its fairy-tale-for-grownups mold, it's very good, and I'd recommend it to fans of Patrick Rothfuss, Gene Wolfe, and Paolo Bacigalupi's The Alchemist. I should also mention that I've gotten to be a fan of audiobook narrator Jonathan Davis, who has read for several of the aforementioned authors, and has a languid, almost hypnotic, yet expressive voice that I consider an excellent fit for fantasy-that-gets-you-to-think. In fact, I have a hard time separating his performance from several books I've enjoyed in the recent past.

  • Pence
    2019-05-01 16:37

    I expected a lot more from “The Scar”. The idea of a book translate from Russian and being hailed as a ‘breath of fresh air’, but all I seemed to receive was a face full of hot air that has been spewed from the mouths of aging plots and characters countless times. The main character is painfully mundane, the classic overconfident and conceded soldier that is praised throughout the first twenty or so pages by local townsfolk as he duels with his enemies and bathes in glory and praise. Then, of course, something goes wrong and he loses it all, and is forced to face his own damning pride and bad choices. Now this character isn’t new to the fantasy scene, or any genre for that matter. Yet the eloquent writing and ornate descriptions cannot save leading man Egert from coming across as tired. It’s almost as though he knows exactly how this is going to turn out, that he acts like a jerk and must learn his lesson through jeers, shaming, embarrassment and embarking on a quest larger than his struggles with his own ego. He’ll meet a woman who hated the old him but will fall in love with the selfless and courageous man forged by his adventures, and they’ll live happily ever after. One of the worst things is that Egert didn’t have to be the tattered pre-owned model. He could have been the Jamie Lannister of his world, an obvious character reworked in a way that keeps him fresh and interesting. In George R. R. Martin’s masterpiece series, A Song of Ice and Fire, swashbuckling Jamie (spoiler warning) loses his hand in the third installment after being held as a prisoner of war. Even though he is humbled by his lack of skill, Jamie never loses his character and ambitions, something that is unexpected of his character archetype. This is something that “The Scar” fails to deliver on: surprise. I was never surprised, and I never had a “didn’t see that one coming” moments. It felt as though the author(s) expected that I wouldn’t notice that it was the exact same plot of countless other novels and short stories, that maybe putting the lead man in a different color wig would convince the audience that it was an entirely new play on the second night of performances.

  • Melody
    2019-05-25 14:49

    Absolutely captivating. 8/5 stars is what I'd give it. No other words can describe how much fun it was to read The Scar. It was such a rush and I just don't even know where to start. Egert Soll is the best character in the oddest of ways. He's the best because he's a man who was once great, and became a coward. He was great in all the physical aspects. Egert once held an incredible power over the soldiers in Kavarren, where he's from, he's handsome which has lots of women entertaining him, and he had a rich home life. But when he accidentally kills a man named Dinar, he is cursed for his actions by the Wanderer, and he has to live with this horrendous scar that comes with consequences. He falls to the lowest point possible, and even though you would think in a fictional story, he wouldn't take any of the crap treatment he's gone through, Egert actually does because he's a coward now, and it's actually really embarrassing just from reading about it.But that's what makes this book better. It's the fact that he has been accepting his fate as a coward that he starts to strive to work past it (a result from the scar I think, that causes him to be fearful of everything) and Toria, Dinar's fiancee, plays a big part in that.I think the authors channeled the pain of losing a fiancee perfectly in Toria, as well as how she ends up having to deal with being in the same place as Egert. Her hatred for him is just so powerful, and it plays as a big obstacle when Toria starts to see a better side of Egert. All in all, probably one of the best books I've read. There is a lot of wonderful visual imagery that allows you to imagine the entire story coming to life perfectly. Absolutely wonderful. I had started this book MONTHS ago but only just now got a chance to finish it. It was a library book and school started to be a hindrance to my reading schedule so I put it on hold and just decided to buy it since I loved where it was going. Best decision I made. I encourage everyone to take a gander at The Scar.

  • Ryan
    2019-05-16 21:49

    This is one of those books that leaves a reviewer conflicted: "4 stars! but, well, maybe not..."The book has an enjoyable Russian folklore feel, especially in the beginning, and in the enumeration of the curses. The protagonist's descent into obsessive-compulsive behavior to cope with his psychological burden is great, and triggers twinges of sympathy. The relatively sparse cast and constrained settings let the authors evoke what was there more colorfully and thoroughly. I liked the way the main characters revolved around one another like nervous cats stuck in a room.But, there are non-awesome aspects as well. The last fifth of the book almost feel like a separate novel, hurried and plot-focused. As another reviewer said, it seems the authors got impatient and decided to wrap things up quickly. The secondary plot set there is lame (unfulfilling, and crippled both), and the resolutions to the various conflicts are Disney-cliche: the good guys win, the boy gets the girl, and everybody lives happily ever after. Incredibly dissatisfying, and jarringly inconsistent with the rest of the novel.(view spoiler)[I was bemused by the handling of the romance - I could see it coming, but when it arrived it just didn't feel right. Also, I can't decide if the end of the courtroom scene, wherein Egert is made captain of the guard after slaughtering a whole passel of citizens, is utterly ridiculous or merely a strong difference in culture. Either way, very ham-handed scene handling. (hide spoiler)]Perhaps the authors had a very different ending in mind and got scolded by some clueless middle-manager to just make it happier, and so what we get is actually their subtle vengeance...

  • Ryandake
    2019-05-15 20:35

    what a of the great thrills of reading international fiction is that when the writers are good and you are lucky, you run across a lot of juicy new ideas, new takes on old ones, a different slant of seeing that more than makes up for any effort expended on trying to understand a different culture or won't get that here.the main character, Egert, is about as stereotypical as a young swordsman can be. vain, thoughtless, and cruel, but lovely and skilled with a blade, yadda yadda yadda... anyway Egert gets the first big chunk of the book, and gets his pretty butt whupped up on by a mysterious stranger, and gets cursed as an added bonus. the main female character--what was her name? gets a couple scenes where she grieves over a murdered fiancee, and then, when we get to the section with her name on it (yippee!), we find she gets two pages and then it's back to Egert. sigh.then there's her dad, the archmage... and some rose-tattooed baddies... and you know what, after the first third of the book, i found myself asking: why am i reading this? like, really? there's nothing illuminating here. no new viewpoints, no new characters, just the stock going through the stock motions.i don't know, maybe it gets better, but i am no longer interested enough to find out. the writing's decently crafted, and the plotting is ok (a little draggy sometimes)... but if nobody's going to show me something i haven't seen 1000 times, then i'm outta here.

  • Kai
    2019-04-26 17:44

    This book "The Scar" is added to my "bestest" book library. I cannot get over the story. This story has depth of human tragedy and the ability to conquer one's fear to arise to the become a hero. It is a story of redemption, forgiveness, and love.Egert Soll, a elite guard, is the town Kavarren's golden boy. Anything he does, whether it's a cruel practical joke or something daring, the town people worshiped him. All the girls and women fawned over him until Toria came into town. She was one woman that rejected him. In turn, Egert challenged her fiance and accidentally killed him in a duel. A mysterious man known as "The Wanderer" challenged Egert to a duel and instead of killing him, cursed him as a coward. Egert's fear drove him to abandon family, home, and his responsibilities as a guard. The story is so well written that I could see imagery of the story in my mind. I could also feel the pains and sufferings that Egert had to go through just to do the smallest and simplest thing as crossing a bridge over the river or deciding to return a book he found (which belong to Toria' fiance) to Toria. He couldn't even killed himself because he was so afraid. I felt pity to him since he became less than a man and have wondered if he could overcome the curse.I will be looking out for the authors Sergey and Marina Dyachenko in the future.