Dead Man's Steel (Grim Company) by Luke Scull
|Dead Man's Steel (Grim Company) by Luke Scull|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The third and final part of the Grim Company Trilogy goes back to the excitement and thrilling standard of episode 1. Ends are tied up and not all survive the tying, but there's a great promise in store for all that are alive at the end – including us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: December 2016|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
|External links: Author's website|
The fehd move on, killing humanity with ruthless efficiency. The remaining heroes are trying to win the war but they've got issues of their own. Brodar Kayne, the Sword of the North, joins forces against fehd with Carn Bloodfist which has its problems since Brodar killed Carn's father. Davarus Cole and Sasha are slightly imprisoned whereas Eremul the Halfmage is still raging wherever possible. This raging takes turns with coming to terms with the shock of his apprentice's true identity. Indeed the former apprentice, Isaac, is fulfilling his true potential although not on the side that Eremul had envisaged. These heroes – all that remains of the Grim Company - are humanity's only hope… Good luck humanity!
British writer and game designer Luke Scull concludes his trilogy with a Book 3 that contains all the magical promise of Book 1. Our noses once more submerge into a story that drags us into a world knee-deep in gore and graduated shades of baddie versus graduated shades of goody.
No one is virtuously clean in this world; a fantasy trope that's been with us a while and that Luke plays with aplomb. Cole is the best example, his dagger being the steel of the title. It's possessed by the Reaver, a nasty piece of work who demands regular killings. Disobedience comes at the expense of Cole's health, both physical and psychological.
On the good side, between butchery, a will they/won't they love is on the cards for Davarus, dealt with as a sub-plot beautifully throughout and brilliantly at the end. No spoilers, but I laughed so hard I choked on my coffee. (I am romantic really… honest!)
Harking back to psychology for a moment, Isaac the fehd, having lived disguised among humans, has more knowledge of the life form than his conquering colleagues and so is less comfortable as a result. The fehd are centuries ahead with their weaponry though, casting any doubt about intentions to one side as shoulder cannons trump swords and mass destruction beckons.
Among the plethora of colourful characters (including the return of the Butcher King Krazka) my heart still belongs to paraplegic mage Eremul. His sarcastic wit shines like a humour beacon in his world's darkest days along with his prophetic powers about the threatened 'Reckoning'. He concludes correctly that it doesn't include a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.
Having said that, quote-wise the line of the book goes to Krazka: Everything I've lied, murdered and raped for, on the verge of ruin!
The only reason this didn't get a 5* is the number of false endings as Luke repeatedly raises, crashes, raises and crashes our hopes in close succession. Although that's a minor gripe, dispelled by the news that anyone who got out of this alive may have a spin off story/book in their future. In a saga where, deliciously enough, no one is safe, that's a wonderful promise to hold onto.
(Thank you so much, Head of Zeus, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you've not done so yet, please do read The Grim Company and Sword Of The North (Books 1 and 2). If you're already a fan and looking for more epic fantasy, try The Waking Fire: Book One of Draconis Memoria by Anthony Ryan or The Shadow of What Was Lost: Book One of the Licanius Trilogy by James Islington, both first-in-series novels with promise.
You can read more book reviews or buy Dead Man's Steel (Grim Company) by Luke Scull at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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