‘ere be dragons’

The Friday Face Off (FFO#2)

‘Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme being hosted by Books by Proxy .   The rules are fairly simple and can be found here.  Each week, following a predetermined theme choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.  Simples.  This week the theme is:

‘A cover which features dragons’:

UK    :    US

The Copper Promise is the first in this fantastic series written by Jen Williams.  I actually like both covers and particularly the way the colours share a similar colour theme.  That being said I adore the UK covers for this series.  They have a wonderful olde worlde feel which is really striking.  Plus the three of them together look amazing.

My winner this week is the UK cover.

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The Silver Tide (The Copper Promise #3) by Jen Williams

thesilvertJust finished reading The Silver Tide by Jen Williams.  This series is so good that it makes me want to cry because it’s now come to an end.  Literally, I could cry right now!  Enough about me though, to the book with a small cautionary note about spoilers for the first two books in the series.

This book is so good, I absolutely loved it.  It’s jam packed with so many goodies that I’m sure I developed an ache in my jaw from just gaping ridiculously whilst reading.  Not only do we get to return to this fantastic world and spend time with, frankly, three of my most favourite characters from fantasy at the moment, but we go on some totally crazy adventures.

Did I mention that there may be gushing – apologies for not forewarning you.

At the start of the story the Black Feather Three are going to be enlisted by none other than Devinia the Red.  Their mission: to delve, boldly I might say, into the heart of the cursed Island of Euriale (otherwise known as the Island of the Gods) where hopefully heaps of treasure lies waiting for their little grabby hands.  Why, you may ask, is this treasure left lying around.  Well, nobody who wanders into the jungles of Euriale has ever returned to tell the tale which does put a bit of a damper on any thoughts of going trekking there.  Of course our little band of sellswords can’t resist the temptation to line their pockets, plus, let’s just be honest, they’re always keen for a little adventure and at the start of the story all three of them could use a bit of a pick-me-up.  Anyway, their latest adventure is going to pick them up in ways they never imagined (not to mention throw them around a good deal and beat the living daylights out of them).  Sooner than they know it they’re going to be in a heap of trouble.

This book is an unadulterated riot of fantasy.  The imagination is just wonderful.  We start the story with a disappearance to whet the appetite and give us a feeling for this creepy little island.  Is it really haunted by the ghosts of it’s past?  Euriale certainly has a long and sad history and it seems that over time the jungle has almost become steeped in bad memories and evil.  The Island of the Gods has seen more than it’s fair share of misery and pain.  It is also home to the many pirates who make port at the Town of Two Birds, a den of iniquity seething mainly with taverns and brothels.  And yet, as rough and tough as these pirates may be, as many brawls as they may boast of and scars they wear with pride – they all know better than to venture over the boundaries of Two Birds.

To the characters.  Well, if you’ve read the previous two books (The Copper Promise and the Iron Ghost) you’ll already be familiar with Wydrin of Crosshaven, Lord Aaron Frith and Sir Sebastian Caverson.  You may also remember Ephemeral who is one of the fearsome brood sisters from the Copper Promise – they’re all going to be making tracks through the jungle.  What I forgot to mention of course is that Devinia the Red, scourge of the high seas, is actually Wydrin’s mum – she’s not the kind to be nurse maiding her children and bringing them milk and cookies but she does defy the pirate image a little by being more of a hoarder of books and knowledge than treasure and trinkets.  We also become re acquainted with a number of other characters from previous stories but I won’t elaborate on those for fear of spoilers.

The plot starts off as a treasure hunt but pretty soon splits into a number of threads as the group become divided.  We continue to follow the pirates on their course to the interior of the island.  Sebastian goes off on a unexpected and personal mission and Wydrin and Frith become entangled with a group of strange inhabitants, a fanatic cult, who are hatching a plot that could undermine the very fabric of this world.

So, what did I love about this book, or for that matter this series. I think Jen Williams has created three characters here that you can really become attached to. It sounds so cliched to say that she brings these characters to life on the page but for me that’s exactly what happens.  I have a vision of each of them in my head, I can picture them, how they move, how they talk and I love it when an author manages to do that.  On top of that the peripheral characters are also highly entertaining.  The writing is great.  Swords and sorcery at its most ingenious and entertaining.  Plenty of action, tempered with captures, escapes, time travel, dragons, Gods, sea monsters and other huge beasts, magic, dragons (did I already mention the dragons!). Did you entertain me?  You most certainly did and you managed to do so consistently over the entire trilogy which is no mean feat.  No middle book syndrome to be found here.

In terms of criticisms – I have nothing.  Although I must say I am sorely disappointed to be leaving this world and these characters behind.  I want more, I’m just greedy like that.

I think that you could probably read each of these books as a standalone book.  I wouldn’t personally suggest you do because I can’t really understand why you would knowingly deny yourself the pleasure of reading the first two books. Just saying.

Would I recommend this series.  Absolutely without doubt.  Do yourself a favour and read them all.

I received a copy of The Silver Tide courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Now take a look at these lovelies and just imagine them sitting on your shelf!

 

The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams

Just finished reading The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams.  I admit it upfront – I loved it.  The Copper Promise was on my top 10 list for 2014 and I wondered how this would compare and it’s just brilliant so beware – there will be gushing aplenty below.

The Iron Ghost picks up a few months after The Copper Promise left off.  Our favourite threesome, flush with their previous success, are now in great demand – they call themselves the Blackfeather Three.  At the start of The Iron Ghost, after a few months break from each other whilst sorting out their own affairs, they’ve been hired to retrieve a stolen item.  Now, clearly things are not going to go according to plan, even assuming there was a plan in the first instance!  There are all sorts of complications – not least of which the awakening of the most powerful, dangerous and psychopathic mage ever to have lived who having been resurrected is hellbent on finishing the project he was working on before he was killed! Oh dear.

I won’t go further into the plot – you can rest assured that a huge metric shit load of crap is going to be unleashed and whilst not directly responsible our intrepid trio are going to go rushing into the fray yet again.  Just hold onto your hats because this has bucket loads of imagination, oodles of fun and cartloads of personality.

The Copper Promise brought to us three wonderful characters in Sebastian, Frith and Wydrin, aka the Copper Cat.  I love characters that grab my attention and feel real and these three certainly took me by storm.  The Iron Ghost raises their profile further.  The characterisation is just excellent and in this instalment we spend a little bit more time with Sebastian and Frith than in the first book giving them both a little more depth in the way that Wydrin was fleshed out originally.  That’s not to say that we don’t spend time with the Copper Cat!  She’s her usual maniac self, filled with almost child like curiosity about all things with a complete lack of self preservation all rolled up with her rum drinking, swashbuckling, sword fighting and devil may care attitude that actually hides her true softer interior.

Then there is the setting.  We journey to a completely different part of this fantastic world where the imagination is resplendent.  Skaldshallow where the Skalds and the Narhls are at war.  Two entirely different races of people.  One a cold race of people who believe in the soul of the mountain and live with a close affinity to nature that lends them a certain sort of magic and the others that mine the mountain and craft strange stone creatures called Werkens. The Skalds believe that Werkens are little more than basic structures that they control themselves using chips of the heartstone which they also mined.  The Narhls think the Skalds are abusing the mountain and nature itself and that they truly do not understand the soul contained within both.  The Narhls and Skalds are at war, both believing that they are protecting their own way of life and what is most important to them.  Neither of them have the faintest idea of the destructive force that is about to be unleashed.

The plot is fast paced and inventive, we jump from one action sequence to the next and the story also gives us flash backs to what our trio got up to after book 1.  I particularly enjoyed Sebastian’s sections of the book where he tries to come to terms with his own newfound nature having shared blood with a dragon and the army of green skinned women that he seeks to tame in order that they might survive.  The Brood army call him father and look up to him and in return he certainly does his best to curb their savage nature so that they might become more acceptable to humankind.  Of course they naturally stand out and their inherent nature as predators oftentimes kicks in before Sebastian can intervene causing terrible problems.

Everything builds up to a fantastic grand scale finale with zombie-esque creatures, demons and death aplenty!

I cannot stress how much I enjoyed this book, really.  It’s a pretty huge chunkster but it’s chock full of goodies.

I want you all to read it!  It’s epic, it’s fun, it’s tense, it’s original and it’s pretty damned awesome and on top of that I think that Ms Williams has come up with a few characters here that I just love.  I literally care about them and that’s what makes a read gripping.  At the end of the day you can have a unique world and a great plot but if the readers don’t care about what happens to the characters then there will be no emotion and that’s what makes reading so enjoyable.  It’s the ups and downs, the gasps, the laughs the shocks and the sudden relief or even sorrow.

I hope you’ll give this a go – it’s such a good series.

I received a copy of this via the publishers through Netgalley and I’m damned glad I did!  My thanks and appreciation.  The above is my own opinion.

My review of the Copper Promise is here.

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Just finished reading The Copper Promise which frankly I just loved and Jen Williams is an author that I now have my beady eye on (that’s right, I’m looking at you!)  What an incredibly enjoyable read.  Well written, gory in parts but with a very healthy injection of humour.  Does it bring anything new to fantasy – not really.  But, in spite of that it’s one damned enjoyable read and anyway it has DRAGONS – or, more to the point A DRAGON – or, okay, a God who is in the form of A DRAGON!  Just go read it!

The story starts with an intriguing look at a Castle which has been overtaken by rogues.  They’ve heard about the famed wealth of the ruling family and are determined to find it and they’re not taking any prisoners when it comes to having the ways and means of extracting information!

We have an interesting snippet with a couple of people clearly sneaking around in some underground tunnels.  A bit of sneaking which they may regret.

Finally we arrive at the start of the journey.  A couple of sell swords in a tavern meeting their latest discerning customer and agreeing terms.  The Copper Promise.

Frankly, I’m not giving any more of the plot away!  There is your typical band of characters that come together through a loose arrangement to find ‘something’ who then become bound together and set off against great adversity and terrible odds to set things to right.

So, why did I enjoy this so much.  Well, the characters mainly.  I loved The Copper Cat (Wydrin) plus Sebastian and even Frith (in spite of himself).  They all go through rough times.  They all reach points in the book where they are literally on their own.  And they’re all good to read about.  There’s no sighing in despair as you move to a character’s POV that you don’t really like so much and only begrudgingly read.  We even get to read the POV from some of the members of the strange army that the main protagonists come into conflict with and also a brief journey through the mind of a God.

Plus, the imagination.  I loved the inventiveness of so many things that take place in the story.  The different Gods and the way they manipulate.  The strange army known as ‘the brood’.  The magic system and the two different types of magic plus the way the magic is wielded.  Just such a lot of really creative ideas – such as the different glass – sorry to be cryptic but I don’t want to spoil things.  Extraordinary suits of armour, islands shrouded in mystery and fog.

The worldbuilding maybe takes a slight back seat to the characters, but not in a way that detracts at all.  It may be a back seat but it’s one of those back seat passengers that wants to be heard!  There are no major info dumps and I felt like the author managed very easily to portray the world here – which may not be too big a surprise, as I said I don’t think The CP is groundbreaking in particular – it’s just so entertaining.  The plot moves along at a fair old pace.  There are plenty of ups and downs and new threats to deal with and frankly I just thoroughly enjoyed Jen Williams style of writing.

If I had any criticisms at all they would probably be in relation to the book ending too soon, or not being long enough or some such.  Happily would I return to this world and these characters and even more happily that looks like a very real possibility.  For the haters of cliff hangers – you won’t be disappointed.  A tied up finish with the promise of more goodness to come.  I think this was originally separate stories and I think that there was maybe one part of the book where that showed a little in terms of feeling like a break in the narrative but this was very brief and really barely noticeable.

Really, keep your eyes on Jen Williams, she’s a keeper.  Great pace, characters, plot and writing.  What’s not to love really?

Get thee to a bookshop!  I definitely recommend reading this.

I received a copy of this through the publisher’s in return for a honest opinion.  My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley.