The Shattered Crown (Steelhaven: Book Two) by Richard Ford
|The Shattered Crown (Steelhaven: Book Two) by Richard Ford|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The good people of Steelhaven are still suffering in Book 2 of Richard Ford's epic fantasy trilogy so hold tight! There's more action and more gore as the characters who will remain in your heart as well as your imagination return.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: March 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
The king is dead… his city is next shouts the strapline, and it's not wrong! Following on from Herald of the Storm, Janessa is the new queen and is quaking; she's young, inexperienced and watching the massed hordes of Amon Tugha approach to rout the kingdom of Steelhaven. This isn't the only problem her father's untimely death has left her with; there's a whole heap of trouble (internal as much as external) and hardly anyone Janessa can trust. Little Rag is now in the Guild but it's not all she dreamt it would be or as safe as she'd hoped. Meanwhile Merrick the ex-mercenary and Kaira, the former spear maiden are settling into their new job as bodyguards to the Queen. Merrick, though, has other things to think about as his past comes back to haunt him. Waylian the witch's assistant is still alive, which is good. And Regulus? He just wants to offer his men's swords in defence of Steelhaven but just didn't realise how difficult that would be, even before the fighting officially starts.
Author and Yorkshireman Richard Ford is back with the second of his Steelhaven trilogy. Herald of the Storm brought us to the edge of our seats and now, The Shattered Crown tips the seats up a bit as he puts us where he wants us to be for Book 3 while we experience a certain amount of fear and trembling. (Which is a good reason why these novels should be read in order by the way – Tip 1.)
Fear and trembling? Well at least foreboding and a bit of a quiver since the characters we cared about first time out, take us further into their lives so that disengaging isn't an option. As we approach the abyss, this instalment is definitely the darker of the series so far.
This darkness is reflected in the sense of urgency and paranoia in Janessa's court. Even Merrick has foregone his humorous inner dialogue, having had it driven out by issues that have nothing to do with his day job as Janessa's bodyguard.
This second book also introduces us to the Spartanesque Wyvern Guard (without the Spartanesque love interest, in case you were wondering). However their leader will be familiar to you; someone who hasn't exactly mellowed since our last visit.
Ooh speaking of last visit, those of us hoping to get within swooning distance of River the Assassin will notice his absence. Don't be too forlorn though - the Epilogue awaits! (Skip over epilogues and prologues in Richard's work at your peril – Tip 2.)
As usual Richard ambushes us with gaspworthy moments when we least expect them as well as light relief from unexpected quarters. Indeed, the Red Witch is developing quite a sense of humour and is becoming a firm favourite, along with almost everyone else in the book. I'm still not that keen on Rogan but since Richard provides us with many evil reasons not to trust him, I won't feel too uncharitable about that.
Alongside the sorcery, some wonderful set pieces (the sort so filled with suspense you don't realise you aren't breathing till cyanosis starts to show) and some magicked monstrosities (oh yes!) there are some topical moments including an almost bankrupt nation and some institutionalised xenophobia as Richard demonstrates his gift for multi-layering.
If I do have a grumble it's that we have to wait another year before Book 3; that's the cruellest cut of all! By the way, does Merrick speak with a Yorkshire accent or is it just my imagination?
Thank you very much, Headline, for providing us with a copy for review.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Shattered Crown (Steelhaven: Book Two) by Richard Ford at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Shattered Crown (Steelhaven: Book Two) by Richard Ford at Amazon.com.
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