The Copper Promise by Jen Williams – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, reviews The Copper Promise, an epic fantasy debut novel from Jen Williams published by Headline Books. It’s released February 2014 in the UK but is available to buy now as four separate eNovellas that collect the whole story.
“An excellent read, The Copper Promise is full of great potential and delivers – providing an awesome debut that should appeal to fans of the likes of George RR Martin and Joe Abercrombie. Great stuff.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel…
Some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths.
For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him … and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.
But sometimes there is truth in rumour.
Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid.
Another year, another epic fantasy novel. The Copper Promise is the first novel that I’ve read this year that falls into the epic fantasy category and is just over 500 pages long – making it another door-stopper release that the epic fantasy genre seems to be full of these days. However, Jen Williams’ debut is actually something that is worth reading, with a great return to quest/adventure type fantasy novels that still manages to appeal to fans of the more ‘modern’ fantasy that the likes of Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie have mastered. The book itself actually combines four seperate ebooks into one – Ghosts of the Citadel, Children of the Fog, Prince of Wounds and Upon the Ashen Blade so if you wanted to read the book in chunks as opposed to all at once then the individual releases will be right up your street. All these stories follow up pretty directly and tell the part of one main storyline as opposed to four separate ones, and there isn’t any real jarring or obvious switch in narrative that came when I was reading a review copy of the finished novel.
There are three main characters that the book puts in the spotlight and each are well developed and fleshed out, with Williams avoiding the simple route of making the characters just stereotypes and nothing more. We get Wydrin of Crosshaven, a female herorine alternatively known as The Copper Cat and the exiled Sebastian Caverson, formerly a devoted Knight now working as Wydrin’s sword in arm, making up two thirds of the trio of lead characters with the third coming in the form of Lord Frith, who has employed the duo with after giving them an offer too good to refuse.
What epic fantasy debuts often struggle with is pacing. Some writers spend much of the first novel providing information dumps and as a result the pace is incredibly slow, or move along at such a fast pace that the world is rarely developed at all. However, Williams finds a balance between the need to develop a world and tell a good, cohesive storyline and she does that exceptionally well, and there weren’t really any parts where I found the novel dragged to the point where I would have had to resort to flicking through pages to get to the more interesting elements. And when you consider that the book has well developed characters as well, that is a great success on Williams’ part as she successfully makes herself an author to watch out for, with a book that will draw you in and make you reluctant to put it down.
If there is one problem that I found with The Copper Promise and it is a very minor issue is that the action sequences are not written as well as the could have been with several long pauses that slowed down an otherwise solid pace. However, given the amount of things that Williams has got right on this novel this is something that can easily be ignored in favour of the more positive aspects – with The Copper Promise really is something that comes recommended and is something that should appeal to a wide range of fantasy fans.