The Red Prince (The Long War) by AJ Smith

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The Red Prince (The Long War) by AJ Smith

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Book 3 of the Long War series is epic fantasy at its scary, fun, sarcastic, shock-laden best. AJ Smith is definitely getting into his stride and the good news is it's not over yet!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 640 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Head of Zeus
ISBN: 978-1784080860

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Spoilers ahead unless you've treated yourself to the first two books…….The surviving sinister, deadly Sisters (formerly the Seven Sisters) are slowly gaining global power and tortuous control. It's not over for our heroes yet though. Utha the albino cleric and his squire Randall are off to bag themselves another sister. They take with them the multi-talented Ruth, someone prone to funny turns but in a good way. Meanwhile the rest of our leaders are busy massing armies, leading to some unusual alliances. Assassin Rham Jas, travelling with the oddly behaving Kale, also has a witch in his sights, but his quest is partly personal. Saara Mistress of Pain still has his daughter.

British author/educator AJ Smith states in his acknowledgements at the end of this book that he hopes he's getting better. Mr Smith, sir, there's no 'hope' about it. It's a certainty! Not only are you getting better, you're getting excellent. Proof, if proof were needed, is that I read this novel slowly because I didn't want it to end despite being well over 600 pages. (Too short if you ask me!)

Once again we slide between characters, viewpoints and locations on a chapter-to-chapter basis. However the pacing is spot on – we never feel as if we're arriving too early or leaving too soon this time out.

Any blandness in characterisation I dared to mumble about out loud in my review for Book 1 has been long forgotten. In its place are a cast of characters whom, although extensive, don't actually need the who's who list at the back. Each one of the goodies enters our memories via our hearts or via the sarcasm-appreciation parts of our brains. Each baddie is so sadistic, they enter our memories via our nightmares.

I have loved the Utha/Randall combo from the beginning. Utha may be the definition of indifference and wryness, however this time we see more of a comparative soft side. He's scathing of young Randall and yet the lad's brought out the father in him. It gets even better – their pairing with the wonderfully named Claryan Soong is masterful. (By the way, I defy you to read the end of one of Soong's chapters without having to read it a second and a third and just gulp in response. You'll know what I mean when you get there.)

Randall becomes a... errr… ahem... man this volume and he's certainly picked the right lass to show him the ropes. She has talents has that one!

Halla is still all axe and assertiveness but it does get results. Whereas Xander and Gwen bring out the 'Aaah!' in us with their pre-battle rituals before knocking off a few dozen heads.

For new talent, go no further than the self-confident, fearless Fynius, captain of the Twilight Company who makes the scary, atmospheric cheese tunnels a fun place to be despite the reason he and his band are wandering along them in the dark.

It's not all jollity and evisceration though. AJ has some shocks and tears for us as, once again, not all our heroes will make it to the end. (I personally had one definite 'Why, AJ why???!' moment.) However being the modern man, he seems to be doing a bit of recycling, although not all of it's pretty.

I could rave on and on but probably best I stop here, allowing you some time to go and read the book for yourselves. Best watch out for the Dark Young and turn all the lights on in the house before you begin... just in case.

(Thank you so much Head of Zeus for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: Do please read The Black Guard and The Dark Blood before you start on this Book 3 as you'll miss so much joining the journey part way through. If you're already a fan and are looking for something else in epic fantasy while we await the next installment, we also commend to you Mark of the Black Arrow (Robin Hood: Demons Bane 1) by Debbie Viguie and James R Tuck and/or Angus Watson's excellent Iron Age fantasy trilogy.

A J Smith's The Long War Novels in Chronological Order

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Buy The Red Prince (The Long War) by AJ Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Red Prince (The Long War) by AJ Smith at


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