Design a site like this with
Get started

Book Review: Falling on the Sword – Bryan Havel

Author Bryan Havel is passionate about his novel following the lives of young friends Jack and Jill through the end of high school.

Falling on the Sword is an interesting story, following the life of Jack, who meets the love of his life, Jill, in preschool at age 3. Jack lives an easy life, naturally intelligent and secure in the knowledge that Jill is devoted to him and is always by his side. Despite their close bond, Jill begins dating another classmate, Tanner, in her last year of high school, which results in both boys deciding to play against one another in a football game to compete for her affection.

This book is difficult to read, both in plot and structure. Author Bryan Havel has a penchant for extremely long sentences full of commas, semi-colons, and a frustratingly huge amount of narrative asides within parentheses. Reading the novel was like trying to have a conversation where someone interrupts you mid-sentence every five seconds with tangentially related comments. The plot easily gets lost when a paragraph about 18-year-old Jack visiting his parents turns into a long explanation, half in completely unneeded parentheses, about how he’s visiting his parents because he doesn’t live there anymore–obvious from the context–and how he often comes to help with farm chores on this lovely estate of his parent’s, where he doesn’t live anymore, although he’s not helping with chores today, but he tends to visit because he is still close to his parents. It is repetitive and interrupts the flow of the actual plot, falling victim to the writing faux pas of telling, not showing, as I would rather see Jack and his parents come to life in a realistic, three-dimensional way by showing some of this closeness through character’s words and interactions rather than a narrative dump that doesn’t endear me to anyone. I wish this were an isolated incident, but the entire book is written this way, with the result of all characters having shallow, one-note personalities.

Where Havel shines is in the climax of the book, a football game taking up easily the last third of the entire novel. As a decades-long passionate NFL fan myself, I found his descriptions of football players’ decisions, routes, and general game flow extremely accurate. While this part of the novel is also wordy, I believe it is necessary to explain the game of American football to those who are not familiar with it, and Havel does this quite well, strengthening the climax of the plot. This was my favorite part of the novel.

I think the true strength of Falling on the Sword, however, is Havel’s clear enthusiasm for his story. In a lengthy afterword, he describes his passion for his characters and his hopes for continuing their journeys in future books. Havel has talent; his descriptions of locations are vivid and he really brought to life the experience of playing football. He clearly wants to write the best novels he can, and I believe that if he can tighten up his plots and add true depth to his characters, he will be a fantastic author.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery for free and read it on my 10th generation Kindle Oasis. I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own. This review was originally written for Reedsy Discovery. The original review is here.

Title: Falling on the Sword
Author: Bryan Havel
Publication Date: 09 March 2022
Print Length: 328 pages
Marie’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Rating: 3 out of 5.

One thought on “Book Review: Falling on the Sword – Bryan Havel”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: