As the Crow Flies by Robin Lythgoe #SPFBO
Today I’m reviewing my chosen book from the third batch of books. For the SPFBO I split my books into 6 batches of 5 books with the aim of choosing one favourite book from each and then to pick an overall winner from those final 6 and today’s post is my review of my book from the third batch.
As the Crow Flies is a swords and sorcery style story, old school I would call it, plenty of description, with a rogue protagonist with a heart of gold at his centre.
The story starts off with Crow setting out on one last job. He’s giving up the world of thieving, he’s going to settle down with the love of his life and this one last job will set him up for life. Well, apart from the fact that this would be a very short read if Crow’s best laid plans succeeded, so, as you might imagine things pretty quickly go to hell in a handcart. Basically Crow is caught and trapped by a wizard who requires him to steal something precious – something that is difficult, nay almost impossible to take – of course the wizard has a few incentives to motivate Crow to succeed. Firstly, Crow has been poisoned with a slow acting concoction and needs to set out on his mission and return to retrieve the antidote before the poison kicks in and he pops his clogs. Secondly, the wizard has abducted the woman that Crow loves. On top of this, Crow will be accompanied by the bane of his life – Tanris – the lawman who has doggedly pursued him over the years. Tanris is also keen to help Crow succeed as the Wizard has also snatched his wife and his holding her captive.
I thought this was a good read. I don’t think it’s breaking any new ground or smashing tropes down but I thought it was well written, maybe a bit over descriptive in parts but still entertaining.
The two characters, Crow and Tanris, are the main focus of the story. We accompany them as they pursue their goal, both desperate to succeed. I quite enjoyed the verbal sparring between these two and it was interesting to watch their animosity and prejudice develop into an almost begrudging friendship as the days and weeks rolled by. Along the way they encounter a number of situations including haunted underground passages, they also pick up another member to add to their group. A young woman who appears unable to speak and who for the remainder of the story is known as Girl.
The world building is fairly brief to be honest, which is a bit surprising given the descriptive feel to the writing. I wouldn’t say that I picked up a real understanding of the places as such or the culture but I wouldn’t say this was an issue for me in particular as it felt like the story was more focused on our main pair and their travels – in that respect I really must say that I couldn’t help feeling that certain parts of the story had a distinctive nod to Tolkien.
To the characters. Well, we have Crow. He’s a bit of an ego maniac in some ways and he’s not above a little whining but, in spite of himself, he’s not quite the hard hearted pro that he thinks. I actually really liked Tanris – he’s a bit taciturn to say the least – well, to be honest the two of them bounce off each other in a way which makes quite good reading and I found myself having a few laugh out loud moments. Girl, we find out very little about unfortunately so I can’t really elaborate. What I can add in is the dragon that ends up accompanying our gang – I did love the dragon. It changed the feel of the book for me somehow.
In terms of criticisms. I thought that there were parts of the story that were a little meandering. The descriptions at certain points definitely slow the pace a little although in fairness that’s probably more towards the middle of the book. The last third definitely picks up the pace. In that respect, if you’re more inclined to enjoy a fast paced punchy read this might not be the one for you. I found Girl a little puzzling and it was a bit of a shame that she didn’t play more of a role. As it is she felt a little bit like a token gesture in the story. In fact the females of the story don’t really come across in that good a light if I’m going to be totally frank.
Overall, maybe a little bit predictable in some ways and on occasion a tad slow, but I thought the writing was good and I enjoyed returning to an old style fantasy read.
As the Crow Flies is my choice of books from my third batch of books.
My books so far:
- Batch 1: Rebel’s Honor by Gwynn White
- Batch 2: Unwilling Souls by Gregory D Little
- Batch 3: As the Crow Flies by Robin Lythgoe
- Batch 4: The Amber Isles by Ashley Capes
- Batch 5: Outpost by F T McKinstry – review to follow
- My book from batch 6 to be forthcoming soon!
My aim is to review Outpost next and then my book from batch 6 at which point I will also be in a position to choose the book I will be taking forward.