It's time to play catch-up this week on my reading for Mark Lawrence's Great Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off. I actually read 3 of the finalists over the holidays, but with so much else going on at the office and at home, I'm just finding time to draft the reviews now. Next up . . .
While it's very clearly only the first chapter of the story, in which most of our main characters never ever get the chance to meet, The Weight Of A Crown was still a very entertaining read. Tavish Kaeden has taken the novel approach of exploring a world that has already experienced it's epic conflict. Esmoria is a world that should be at peace, but which is threatened as much by its sinister prince as by a defeated race, desperate to regain its lost cities/cultures.
There are four main characters here, four points of view, and four individual storylines. Jeina is a young slave, working the camp of a silver mine that has accidentally rediscovered a sinister weapon of old for their equally sinister Prince Tobin. Nicolas is a young engraver’s apprentice prone to seizures, who we discover possesses a power he is too immature to wield responsibly. Xasho is a Curahshar warrior who survived a trap laid by Prince Tobin’s men, driven underground (literally), where he uncovers an odd pair of enchanted short swords with uncomfortably spiked handles.
These are the kinds of characters you expect to lead a story like this, common people who discover uncommon talents and abilities. Jeina I took a while to warm up to, and Nicolas grated on my nerves a bit (I suspect he's supposed to), but Xasho I like from the start. Having said all that, Lord Commander Bokrham may just be the most interesting piece of the puzzle. Once a commoner himself, he is a former woodsman who was elevated to nobility by the previous king, and then forced into the role of Regent by Prince Tobin's disappearance. While it's natural to expect him to be a traitor, an evil mastermind, or some 'chosen' hero, he is just a man dangerously unsuited to his task. He's not an evil man, despite his temper, but one who is in so far over his head, his morals and intentions may not matter.
Like I said, this is very clearly the opening book of a longer series, so there's no resolution to what's begun, but it is a well-written first installment that lays the groundwork, establishes the characters, and makes us want to read more. I thoroughly enjoyed The Weight Of A Crown, and was disappointing to see it end.
ebook, 448 pages
Published August 11th 2011