Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Grim Company - Luke Scull


The Grim Company
Luke Scull
Roc
 
Fantasy
 
The Godswar happened almost five hundred years ago.  At that point, the gods and their magic ran unchecked through the world.  The Magelords put an end to that by killing the Gods.  Now the Magelords, immortal beings who have the only access to what magic remains, are the only protection between the population and wild magic.  But something in the world is broken.  There’s not much magic left on the one hand; on the other, there are rumors of abominations roaming the frozen reaches of the north.  These creatures are said to be the result to wild magic leaking back into the world.
 
All of that is a mere backdrop to someone like Davarus Cole.  Cole twenty, and fancies himself quite the hero.  He knows that this is his destiny, since his father was murdered by the local Magelord Salazar.  Cole’s main goal in life is to use his father’s dagger – a dagger that possesses magic of its own – to kill Salazar.  He’s part of an underground group of rebels who secretly defy the Magelord of the city.  Cole soon meets up with Brodar Kayne, an older barbarian who was once known as the Sword of the North.  He and his companion, Jerek, have done what was thought impossible: they’ve escaped the northlands with their lives. 
 
If all of this sounds like the setup for a comical adventure, don’t worry.  It all goes rather dark fairly quickly.  Cole is either an object of fun or a pitiful character, depending on your point of view.  Brodar Kayne and Jerek are both older men, with all the accompanying aches and pains, but they’ve got the kind of experience and stoicism that only come with age.  The story is really an epic journey, with a huge cast of characters moving in and out of the story.  The characters comprise a wide cross-section of this world’s inhabitants.  It’s a tribute to the writer’s world-building skills that each new race of characters seems to spring, organically, from their home territory.
 
Each of the major characters has a backstory that is revealed, for good or ill, over the course of the novel.  I quickly came to care about the characters, and some of the plot twists and reveals were actually startling.  It’s not often that I find both complex world-building and believable characterizations in one place, but this is that kind of book. There’s magic, political intrigue, action, and plenty of treachery.  This is the first in a proposed trilogy, but the story here is complete as written; there’s no cliffhanger ending, but plenty of threads that can be picked up and followed on further adventures.  I feel like I got in on the ground floor of something that will be great.  This book is also available in paperback this month, so don’t miss it.
 
Rating: 9
September 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-26484-3 (hardcover)

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