This is a really good swords and sorcery fantasy, with all the necessary ingredients to make it a fast-paced, thoroughly entertaining read…
There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel: some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths. For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him… and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done. But sometimes there is truth in rumour. Sometimes it pays to listen. Soon this reckless trio will become the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid.
If the blurb sounds like this is a rip-roaring adventure with plenty of swash-buckling action, fuelled with oodles of blood, guts, nasty villains and big nasties crashing around. Yep. All of that. Along with three interesting heroes. Well, three and a half, really… and this isn’t so much grimdark as gleedark. There is a boisterous energy that doesn’t diminish the danger or unpleasantness or threat facing the world, but I put the book down with a grin on my face.
Williams has managed to pull off a really tricky feat – and make it look easy while doing so. Her trio are an odd bunch – and for my money, Wydrin, the copper cat, is by far the most compelling. She is a greedy adrenaline-junkie with a tongue on her sharp enough to slice and dice the villains confronting her before they are even aware they are being properly insulted. Great fun.
Her companions are no light-weights, either. Lord Frith spends the book reeling from the action that opens the book, while Sir Sebastian has his own particular issues – which only get more complicated as he becomes an unlikely father… The narrative is mostly powered through the third person viewpoint of these protagonists, though occasionally we get slices in the point of view of one of the host of antagonists they find themselves facing.
The pace doesn’t let up as the trio find themselves bouncing from one tricky situation to another as they slide towards the main confrontation, which brings the book to a triumphant conclusion. I read this offering in three greedy gulps, unable to put it down until I’d discovered what had happened – something that hardly ever happens with fantasy featuring sharp pointy weapons. Or hardly ever used to…
If you haven’t yet encountered it, get hold of a copy. It’s an enjoyable feast of a book.