A beautiful tale of a betrayed hero. It's clearly inspired by a number of other works, most notably Berserk, and to some extent, Dune. I quite thoroughly enjoyed it.
Story; Our Main Character was once a renowned hero, but after being betrayed by his closest friends on what was to be their finest quest, he was cut down, left for dead, and branded a traitor. Only by absorbing the power of a fairy was he able to survive, and even then it took him twenty years to recover enough strength to make the trek back to his homeland and seek revenge on those traitorous friends who call themselves "Heroes". As we follow his story, we come to learn more about his homeland, the quest he partook in, and the inner politics of the Empire in the ensuing twenty years since the Heroes were granted lordship over the provinces. We follow the Main Character's journey as he single-mindedly pursues his goal unflinchingly, yet as he stays steady and persistent, the world's perception of him changes; he goes from being an unknown demihuman, to a reviled villain known as "Hero Slayer", to a spark of rebellion, and finally to a beacon of hope for the entire country. I found this narrative immensely satisfying (if a bit slow at the start), simply because it's rare and enjoyable to find a tale where the development surrounding the Main Character is more about the world around him than his own growth. I was also very intrigued and impressed by the writing of the nebulous "Wischtech", the antagonistic force that spurred on that original Heroic quest and drove many of the sub-plot elements; the author did a great job showing *just enough* to give context, but witholding everything else to leave them mysterious. 9/10; I felt like the intro could've used a little work, but the rest is solid.
Art; Absolutely beatiful. I was impressed throughout my reading. While I can't say it's better than some of the iconic "Greats" out there, it certainly deserves full marks. The character designs were really nice, the backgrounds had insane detail on many panels, and overall the feel of it all was top notch. 10/10; Those sword-shaped cannons were gorgeous.
Characters; This work was very much a character-driven story, and as such this category falls into a very similar area as the Story category. Moving around the MC's character that I've already talked about, I was really amused by the side characters of the story. This work does a great job of sidestepping the traditional problems of having side-characters that tag along with the MC just end up being a glorified peanut gallery, or at best just mooks to get jobbed by the next baddie the MC has to take on. Instead, each "follower" character, if you will, has their own story arc of an indeterminate length, and once that story arc is complete, they are no longer in-focus. We get glimpses of them from time to time, and they provide support in relevant situations, but they don't cling to the MC for no good reason, and they don't drone on about their own abilities for pages at a time. 9/10; My favorite part of it all was that there was a side character that the MC just gives a fake name at their first encounter to cover for them, and since the character never bothered to argue, the entire cast called her that name for the rest of the story - we never even find out what her real name was.
Overall; A sublime example of dark fantasy with its own unique aesthetic that helps it stand out amongst the others. It succeceds in creating a grim world full of corruption and abuse of power without sinking into the teritory of "edgy for the sake of being edgy". I don't think I could ever call this my favorite Dark Fantasy work (that spot's already claimed by Berserk), but I will certainly remember this manga fondly for a long time. If I ever get to a point in life where I can collect physical copies of Manga I've read, this will be one of them. 10/10; Well worth the read in every way.