The Grim Company by Luke Scull – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

The Grim Company

Bane of Kings writes a review of Luke Scull’s debut novel for Head of Zeus publishers, a dark fantasy tale called The Grim Company.

“Gritty fantasy has a new and enthralling addition to its ranks. If you’re a fan of  Joe Abercrombie or George RR Martin, then this is one you’ll want to have under your radar.” ~The Founding Fields

I first came across this book after hearing about it on Civilian Reader, and upon finding out that it was pretty cheap on the Kindle Fire (only £1-ish), I decided to snap it up and give it a try. After all, I love gritty fantasy, but with so many already established names in the genre, what new things could Scull bring to the table that we haven’t already seen before? I was interested to find out, and I ended up tearing my way through this debut tale. However, it’s not without its flaws though, and I’ll explain what they are towards the end of the review.

This is a world dying.

A world where wild magic leaks from the corpses of rotting gods, desperate tyrants battle over fading resources, impassive shapeshifters marshal beasts of enormous size and startling intelligence, and ravenous demons infest the northern mountains. A world where the only difference between a hero and a killer lies in the ability to justify dark deeds.

But even in this world, pockets of resistance remain. When two aging warriors save the life of a young rebel, it proves the foundation for an unlikely fellowship. A fellowship united against tyranny, yet composed of self-righteous outlaws, crippled turncoats and amoral mercenaries. A grim company, indeed…

As expected, The Grim Company is the opening volume in a new Fantasy trilogy, which bears the same name as its title. If you’ve any doubts about it being a weak addition to the already established ranks of dark fantasy then you should put them aside, for Luke Scull has crafted a debut tale that will keep you hooked right the way through, with a strong story, interesting characters, a harsh outlook on the world and a very interesting plot. Whilst this may not be the most original debut ever, The Grim Company’s biggest achievement is easily making you feel like you’re not reading an Abercrombie-knock off. The book is firmly its own novel.

The Grim CompanyCharacter wise, Scull delivers some tried and true archetypes such as Davarus Cole, a man who believes that it’s his destiny to be the leader, the most awesome character of them all and lead the people against the evil that oppresses them. However, Cole is actually not all that likable, and comes across as a bit of an arrogant prick at times, with a warped view of how things should work and often ignores what is happening right in front of him. We also get the likes of Eremul the Halfmage, a sorcerer spared by the evil ruler Salazar that followed a purge which left other magic users in disarray, Brodar Kayne, a man who was once Champion of the Shaman and is now in hiding from his former master, among others, who are an interesting cohort that, along with the plot of overthrowing the lord ruler can sometimes echo Brandon Sanderson’s The Final Empire, but obviously with a gritter tone.

If you were put off by Abercrombie’s novels or are one of the few people who don’t like A Song of Ice and Fire, then The Grim Company will probably not be your cup of tea. Even though the book comes across as too cliche from the description that I’ve just given you and the blurb, especially with the evil leader being named Salazar, you’ll find that Scull is in familiar territory, he knows what waters he’s treading in as do you. The book also benefits from being action packed, engaging and truly a page-turning read, and once you’ve started, you won’t stop. There are however, as mentioned earlier – a few shortcomings that prevent The Grim Company from matching the likes of Abercrombie and company.

The author tries to get across a very grim setting in his book, but sometimes, the dialogue comes across as awkward in places. It also doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, for we’ve seen everything in The Grim Company before. There’s nothing that screams new and original, however – if you want a fun read from one of the hottest debut authors of 2013, The Grim Company will probably be your best bet. I was considering giving The Grim Company a slightly lower rating at the start of the review, but I’ve decided that I’m actually struggling to find that many flaws in the book as I attempt to pick it apart in this review.

VERDICT: 4/5

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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