I read the first book in this series, “The Copper Promise” this past fall. I spent the first quarter of the book feeling like I had missed a book. I kept stopping to check to make sure I hadn’t begun a series in the middle. It was maddening, but eventually I settled into the writing style, got invested in the characters and totally forgot to wonder what I had missed. Until the end. At which point I went online and pre-ordered the second one… which came just as I was digging in to Salem’s Lot. I almost put Mr. Barlow’s adventures down to jump into this one, but, I was too afraid of retribution from the creepy blood sucker.
These two books are stand alone, but follow the adventures of three heroes. Two of the main characters have a history that predates the beginning of the first book, but that’s okay. The author gives you tidbits as you go along, almost like she is gently reminding you of what you read at the beginning of the series, without there having been a beginning book. There are events that happened between the two tales. Those that are important are relayed well, those that don’t add to the tale are touched on to fill the gap but not dwelled upon. The stories told in these two volumes are tidbits of time in the lives of the characters. Sure there are more mundane things attentended to. Other jobs that the sell swords did, just, none of them were quite the story that these two were. I totally get why the author picked these tales to tell.
One of the things I adored about these books is that they read very much like many of our table top rpg session would read if someone were to put them into story form. Not all choices were good ones. Not all outcomes were beneficial, but they carried on, they held to their purpose and they made a difference in their little pocket of the universes. Now. Some of you might know that my hubby and I met over Dungeons and Dragons in the 70’s. Yes. I know. I’m old. Our love of role playing has been our entertainment since we first got together. Some people go bowling, we have game night. We have spanned the genres leaving D&D for other pastures, some of our favorites over the years are Powers & Perils, Role Master, Shadow Run, EarthDawn and now we are in love with the Savage Worlds system and are currently enjoying forays into Victorian era monster hunting. Not all our game sessions are exciting. Not all our game sessions go well. But, if you were to piece together and cleverly narrate the good bits, this is the sort of story you would come up with.
I thoroughly enjoyed them. The characters are real, fallable and have hearts. The magic in this world is different and creative and although it is very powerful, it isn’t common. The creatures are just plain cool and the demon you meet is a nasty piece of work just like a demon should be.
I give it a 4 simply because I’m told I give too many books 5’s and these did make me crazy wondering what book I had missed previously. Nice job Jen Williams. You have a new fan.