I read each page in consistent trepidation, on the basis that this was seemingly focused on one of my favourite villains. Or at least, the blurb on Amazon leads one to believe so. Thus ultimately, upon finishing I was a little bit disappointed that the whole story primarily was about an imposter. An imposter, who had some tenuous links to the Fred of Blades grave in the later Fable games. From the grave description, Fred was Jack's actual brother, not 'like a spiritual' brother in a way, which Xiro stated. This I found contradictory to canon information already supplied by the Fable games.
Personally, if I had the license to write brand new canon material for the Fableverse I probably would have not made up back stories for irrelevant wannabes (psh!). Thus I was a little disappointed that it did not shed any more light on Jack of Blade's character like I had hoped it would. This would be my primary source of disappointment being a sadly devoted Jack fan. Moving on.
Any form of colloquial expression used, in what seems overall to be a short story in formal tone, is a little bit cringeworthy somehow, in my opinion. Especially when there are free fan fictions out there using more sophisticated language. While I can appreciate that the Fableverse has an overall humorous tone in dialogue, 'what the hell' seemed a little inappropriate where it was used. Almost like a feature of a My Immortal-esque fanfiction. Thankfully, it wasn't consistent throughout, and David is a clearly skilled writer.
I must admit I initially thought Jack sounded out of character until the reveal happened, which obviously made a lot of sense progressing to the end. Xiro however turned out to be one harsh son of a gun. Well, to the Blacksmith's daughter, anyway. The others clearly deserved his unforgiving side. This makes me wonder, was he perhaps the reincarnation of Jack? Especially with his harrowing final words. Just a thought.
Reviewed by Abigail Lewis/Ab-nor-mew
Edit: Apparently Xiro is Jack of Blades, but on first impression I didn't pick up on this. It would make ten times more sense, but there seems to be a lack of continuity here given that Xiro is not donning the mask.