Sword of Caledor by William King – Advance Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the second novel in the Tyrion and Teclis trilogy, Sword of Caledor by William King.
“A disappointing novel that promises much but falls far short of expectations and hopes placed upon it.” – The Founding Fields
It’s not often that I am let down by Black Library, it’s only happened once or twice or maximum four times in the past, and those were Imperial Guard novels or novels that were good but just not for me. But alas Sword of Caledor has not been a book I have relished or even enjoyed reading. Which after the well-written promising start to the trilogy that was Blood of Aenarion, only compounds the disappointment and really makes me wish I had been able to like this novel but it cannot be done, at least not for me.
Tyrion and Teclis have set out on their greatest quest yet, to find the fabled blade Sunfang that was wielded by Aenarion six thousand years ago. With the sword hidden in the dark depths of Lustria and guarded by unfathomably alien gods and their unflinching servants the twins will have to use every skill and trick they have to rescue the cultural treasure and icon of their heritage from the dead city of Zultuc. And all the while dark forces begin to stir as the Assassin Urian Poisonblade prepares to murder the Everqueen, and his dark master Malekith gathers his army to once again lay siege to his ancestral home and reclaim what is rightfully his in blood and fire.
Now the first issue with SoC is the story, there wasn’t one. The premise of Lustria was short and ended quickly, and felt like it was only there to have some Lizardmen and some battle scenes in the novel. From there the story becomes more about long conversations about prophecies and tournaments and travelling and musings on Elves, humans and other esoterica. And interspersed are the segments with Malekith which don’t feel vital the novel. But it is the distinct lack of immersion that made dislike this novel, at no point did I feel sucked in by the story. I just felt like I was reading it and that was it. What could have been a really great story felt more like travel notes and a prelude to what is to come, but no novel especially not a second in a trilogy, should feel like a prelude and only that. Even a prelude must tell it’s own story.
The characters were my second issue. They were flat. Firstly the names are just atrocious. Elves named Dorian, Osryian, Malene and Cassandra, that last one threw me the most. These names kept dragging me out of the story and shaking my head at the distinct lack of “Elveness” to them, human characters have felt more different to me than these supposed elves did. And then the characters did not feel deep, they felt more like cardboard cut outs of Druchii and Asur. Tyrion and Teclis are the same as before, having grown very little over a century and all of their conversations were just banter thrown back at each other. Tyrion also appears to have become a genius at everything while Teclis is left behind with only his magic, when it’s always been Teclis that was the smart one in the lore and Tyrion the brave one. Malekith also felt odd, rather caring and decent for the legendary Witch King and Morathi did not feel deadly or impressive, but rather just a tired old woman with evil plans.
The action scenes were the third problem, there weren’t really any. Aside from three short fights in Lustria in the first third of the book there are no other battles or action scenes until the final third of the book and these are just personal duels which are barely described and are done in jest. The only enjoyable fight was right at the start and was nicely done, pitting the elves against a rather new opponent, but after that the level of battle faded into practically nothing. Even Eisenhorn and Ravenor books have more action than SoC did and they are Inquisition books, about spying and subterfuge, whereas a High Elf book about the last great war between Asur and Druchii barely had any battles of note. A Warhammer book without any war.
The pacing was decent enough, the prose itself is well written but I could not escape the feeling that nothing happened. At 300 pages I finished the book in 12 hours but on the whole found it to be a dull affair in which little to nothing occured between characters that were not interesting and unfortunately named and a lack of any real battles to be seen. And yet I read the book fairly quickly, i’m not sure how but while I was not bored enough that I stopped reading I was never entertained enough that I wanted to praise the book. I just kept reading, perhaps because I wanted to see if it got better. Sadly it did not.
This is where I would give my favourite quote, but alas I did not find one. No quote stood out at me, rather just a host of banalities and rather weak banter and poor tired threats. I expected at least Malekith to have some awesome lines but I couldn’t find one, and believe me I looked.
The ending was as disappointing as the rest of the book. Leaving off on a cliffhangar to rival Defenders of Ulthuan but without any of the tension, shock or gripping desire to know what comes next. Rather it felt like this was the natural course of events, and that it just happened. I felt nothing as I read the ending but the knowledge that the book was over and the dawning sense of “was that it?” coming over me. Admittedly the set up is good but it just didn’t make me feel anything beyond tiredness, even though I knew what was coming next and tried to feel excited for it, I just couldn’t.
As I said it’s not often that I write a bad review but I am an honest invidiual when it comes to my opinions, and fairly dishonest everywhere else, so I will not mislead any of my readers. I can only give Sword of Caledor a score of 3.5/10. This is not a novel I would recommend to any but the most die-hard Asur or William King fan. Let it be said that I do like King’s work, I absolutely loved Angel of Fire and Skavenslayer is one of my all time favourite fantasy novels. But SoC just lacked spark, it had nothing that could have dragged me into the story and considering the subject matter, I view that to be most disheartening. I really hope that Bane of Malekith will be an improvement, because that novel is a confrontation i’ve been dying to read about and to find it as I did this novel would be very sad indeed. I’ll have to wait and see.
And on that note I shall end the review. I do not know what my next review will be about so we’ll find out then, until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!