Sword Of The North (The Grim Company) by Luke Scull
|Sword Of The North (The Grim Company) by Luke Scull|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The 2 year wait ends! The Grim Company are back and may be spread widely, geographically, but all have enough to keep them occupied with gore to spare. Also recaps are in short supply so if your memory is just as short, re-read Book 1 first.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 480||Date: March 2015|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
|External links: Author's website|
The heroes are scattered and seemingly powerless; the Age of Ruin is indeed upon the land. Emerul the half-mage is reduced to sending a messenger rather than acting upon it himself and Shanna is reduced to being that messenger. Davarus Cole is dying but it won't be the last time and what of the Sword of the North? He, Brodar Kayne continues to seek someone he thought he'd never see again even though there's no guarantee of finding her. Meanwhile he has more pressing problems in the form of a Brick and a Grunt.
The author and RPG designer from the city of my youth Luke Scull brings us a second filmgenic novel in the Grim Company trilogy, two years after we first fell in blood with The Grim Company. Whatever the reasons for the delay, we forgive them totally (as if there was anything we needed to forgive anyway!) as we forget the pain of anticipation as soon as we start reading the story, the action hitting us from page one.
On the other hand, my minor gripe is that the anticipatory pain wasn't all I'd forgotten. I do read a fair bit (yes, really!) so have trouble remembering detail from a lusciously brick sized book two years later. Therefore it was a bit of a downer that there wasn't a list of characters, recaps or an Ian Irvine-type synopsis chapter. My instant involvement with at least the first half was therefore hampered by memory-rummaging as I went along.
Having said that, I found I'd forgotten the situations rather than the characters. Indeed, these are people we could never forget. Brodar Kayne, the titular Sword of the North gets a lot more exposure as we learn about his brutal childhood. This then goes on to explain a lot, setting us up nicely for comparisons when he acquires a child named Brick by other than normal child-acquiring means.
Luke spreads light and shade, shining poignancy through the brutality as we watch Brick's youthful black and white beliefs clash with a real world reality. (A religious metaphor for those who seek depth in fantasy.)
Book 2 seems very much to be a story of seeking. Kayne seeks his wife and child, the deliciously Glokta-esque half-mage Eremul seeks vengeance (and after the previous instalment, wouldn't mind finding Isaac either!) while Yllandris seeks peace and the ability to live with herself, leading her to carry out a very un-Yllandris act. That leaves the buccaneer-like Cole who would just like to find the key to the mystery of that crow that keeps following him around.
Looking around the reviewerly circles, there are cries of 'stock fantasy casting' but for me a fantasy author's talent isn't in the character building alone; it's what's done with them that matters. Once we have our heads around the lie of the well-constructed land, the scenes pull us in till we become breathlessly heedless of the length. When authors can accomplish this as Mr Scull does, I don't even mind if the characters are all from the local Yellow Pages.
By the end of the story we're nicely set up for Book 3 and we've all learnt something. Oh indeed we have: as scary as the undead are there's far worse out there. Blow the undead… bring on the unborn!
(Thank you to the lovely people at Head of Zeus for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you haven't read it already, then please do subsume yourself in Book 1. If you're already a fan and you'd like more of 2015's top fantasy offerings, try Son of the Morning by Mark Alder which also comes highly recommended.
You can read more book reviews or buy Sword Of The North (The Grim Company) by Luke Scull at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Sword Of The North (The Grim Company) by Luke Scull at Amazon.com.
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