The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

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The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Jen Williams may be the new author on the block, but she's most definitely welcome. A sword and sorcery epic that devours clichés and spits them out as unexpected twists. I'd have liked more made of certain facets, but perhaps that's because I want a series!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 544 Date: February 2014
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472211118

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Former knight Sir Sebastian Caverson and Wydrin of Crosshaven (aka Copper Cat) are swords for hire. On this occasion they're hired by Lord Aaron Frith of Blackwood to enter the Citadel, of which dark legends abound. They don't know what they need to do once in there, but that doesn't matter. The trip unleashes something that would have made them forget their purpose anyway, not to mention their pay: they awake Y'Ruen, the last god. In return for the alarm call, Y'Ruen breathes death across the known world with a little family assistance but that's not the worst bit. The worst bit (at least for them) is that Sebastian and Wydrin are the only ones who can stop her.

A knight, a feisty tomboy of a girl and a vengeful aristocrat go hunting a dragon… Please stop me if you've heard it before. Think you have? Possibly somewhere but not quite like Jen Williams tells it. In this physical book combining four previously e-booked novellas Jen shows what you can do if you take an apparent cliché and add different seasonings. The resulting literary dish is over 500 pages of adventure that left me wanting more.

Take our shining knight for instance. Sir Seb was drummed out of his order for something that none of Tolkien's heroes ever thought of, even if they'd had the energy. For me Sebastian endows the story with a level of real world relevance and I salute Jen's bravery.

Wydrin is a bit nearer to the stereotypical feisty lass but is still amusing and fierce enough to get away with it. As for Aaron, is he a goodie-baddie or a baddie-goodie? Jen keeps us guessing as to his motives as we smile at his self-belief surpassing his ability (until he takes matters into his own hands).

As Jen was inspired to write this after playing a video game we're treated to demons, magic languages, mysterious glass and the deliciously evil Children of the Fog (think matrix meets sorcery). All are arranged in a way that keeps letting us off the novel's tenterhooks only allowing us a couple of quick breaths before the action whips us up again.

Y'Ruen must share equal billing with the questing three, despite being one of the many gods we encounter on the journey, not to mention one of the many dragons. You see Y'Ruen is the proud mother of hundreds; many with an interesting psychological dilemma which I wish Jen had made more of as their sense of burgeoning identity is fascinating. (I want to write more about that but it would give too much away.) The DNA thing is also very clever but seemed to be abandoned without extracting the full pound of flesh.

Jen's writing style comes part-way between Luke Scull and Michael J Sullivan in that there is blood and perhaps an adult theme, but it's all on a light footing.

There has been some mumbling in the reviews about the possibility of plot holes. Yes, I may have noticed a couple. However 1. I only thought about it after I'd devoured every page hungrily, almost without stopping and 2. it's fantasy, not News at 10!

In the end I'm hoping that the abandonment of excellent developments and some curiosity-inducing loose ends (not to mention wanting more of Dreyna – what's not to love about Dreyna?) means there must be a sequel. So Jen, if you need any further inspiration, get your games console out again. A nation of fantasy fans await.

We'd like to thank Headline for providing us with a copy for review.

Further Reading: If this appeals and you'd like to embark on a sword and sorcery trilogy with equal impact, we recommend the Riyria Chronicles starting with Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan. (It keeps getting better as the books develop.)

Buy The Copper Promise by Jen Williams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Copper Promise by Jen Williams at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Copper Promise by Jen Williams at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Copper Promise by Jen Williams at Amazon.com.


Booklists.jpg The Copper Promise by Jen Williams is in the Top Ten Fantasy Novels of 2014.

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