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Honestly, I would read anything that this author writes, but this is now one of my favourite books ever, and I only got it yesterday. This book will not let you go until you’ve consumed every last word. It’s utterly charming, gloriously smutty in places, and very, very funny, with a cracking good story at its heart. I found this a slightly more cheerful read than the Clocktaur wars duology, which is set in the same world, but that is in no way a flaw. The characters, and writing style are, as ever, brilliant - Halla in particular is an unexpected protagonist for a fantasy novel, which makes her all the more enjoyable to read. Altogether, if you want to read a book that will grip you for all the right reasons, and make you cackle with inappropriate laughter on public transport, then give this one a go. Now, I’m off to read it all over again.
I purchased this after reading a small quote posted on a Fantasy fiction Facebook page. The quote made me chuckle, so i thought id take a risk and read something a little outside of the Grimdark i normally go for.
I am so glad i did. I absolutely loved this. Firstly, there was a woman over 35 who wasnt reduced to comments about how age had lessened her beauty (apparently, any woman over 30 is past it). Secondly, the man she hooks up with is age appropriate (sort of) and not old enough to be her father ( so sick of men in their 40s/50s being put with women in their early 20s - both in books and on TV). Thirdly, there is a character that has no gender assigned to them. I really liked this. And the character as a whole.
Lastly, this was just a great read. Gripping, moreish, extremely amusing, and incredibly satisfying.
I really hope we will get to read more about Halla and Sarkis.
This is the first book I have read by this author and what a joy it was. I loved the main characters Halla, who is trying to escape from relatives after her inheritance and Sarkis the warrior trapped in the sword as punishment for past misdeeds. Mostly when the main protagonist is female they are 'feisty' or lethal. Halla's technique of bewildering opponents was simply hilarious and some of the imagery was utterly unique. As I couldn't put it down and read through the night I now have a splitting headache but it was worth it. My only complaint was that I thought the action Sarkis took to avoid hurting Hall should have earned him some redemption. I long for the next story. Please write faster!!
If you've read the Clocktaur books, you will settle right into this world. Trouble is, I was expecting a similar sort of fantasy adventure. Unfortunately, for me, about halfway through I realised that I was reading a romance disguised as a fantasy adventure, and I'm just not in to romance. Halla's characterisation is great. Loved her grit and fortitude. I just didn't want to be there for her romance. I wanted to be with her on her adventure. I'm not sure whether the author just didn't have enough to make a meaty story or whether the romance was attempts at a new genre divergence. It didn't suit me and by chapter 35 I was skipping. By chapter 50 il given up. I strongly recommend the Clocktaur books though if you want fantasy adventure without the fluttering hearts and throbbing parts. I was tempted to assign two stars, but truth be told, it's well written just not what I was expecting.
This is a story in the same world as THE CLOCKWORK BOYS, set a few years after the events of that book.
And in that world there's a widow who has inherited a house full of antique junk and a fair bit of money. Her late husband's family is intent on forcing her to marry again with a view to cheating her of her inheritance. And she decides to end it it all.
Fortunately when she tries falling on an antique sword, the ancient warrior trapped within in it pops up and from there on it's adventures, encounters and a gradually building romance. She's soured on marriage, he has his own (very ancient) secrets and current hang-ups.
What a marvellous read. This is set in the same world as the Clocktaur War books, but not connected. Halla is a widowed poor relation housekeeper who has kept house for her great uncle and when he dies finds she is the sole beneficiary of his will, which doesn't please his (closer) relatives. They lock her into her own room so that she will agree to marry her odious cousin. She knows her life will be worthless once she does and once they get their hands on the estate. Enter Sarkis, an immortal barbarian swordsman trapped in an enchanted sword and doomed to protect wielder after wielder for eternity. When Halla draws the sword, Sarkis finds himself defending her against everything from her own in-laws to bandits and evil priests. The story may be relatively simple, but what lifts this head and shoulders above the crowd is the sparkling dialogue and the repartee. Halla is not well educated, but she questions all the time and genuinely wants to know the answers, but also she's developed a protective I-am-a-stupid-female mode when she runs off at the mouth and generally confounds and bewilders people into thinking she's insignificant. Sparks fly between her and Sarkis who is a grim barbarian type with more of a heart than he realises, despite being - you know - dead and immortal at the same time. Halla and Sarkis are simply fabulous characters. I couldn't stop reading. I raced to finish it, and at the same time didn't want it to end. It does look as though it's the beginning of a trilogy. I can't wait for the next one.
There's a lot to like about this book, but I did come away from reading it feeling dissatisfied, some of which is down to personal preferences rather than any fault in the writing.
The book is really a full on romance, rather than adventure with romance as a side dish. It is sexually explicit in a way I did not expect from the description, which lessened my enjoyment of the story, particularly as the carnal attraction of the lovers is prominent much of the way through. I find it particularly unsatisfying from the artistic point of view in their going to bed in the context of what is more or less another betrayal (he hasn't married her and he hasn't told her his history). I didn't feel it was actually pornographic, and most of it is relevant to the story - and she does get a lot of humour out of the human side of it. In tone, it reminded me of Ovid rather than something out of Playboy. (I did philosophy and met these things while studying, if my reputation as a Respectable Woman is about to be besmirched by my acquaintance with these texts... :-P).
The characters and the interaction between the characters are frankly brilliant - the romance mostly works.
The book involves a group of people travelling backwards and forwards over the same territory, both literally and metaphorically, and in some ways I found this very wearing. There's a sort of lack of coherence in it, like looping all over the place in an ikea store. The repeated irritations with the priests of the hanged mother, for instance, don't seem to have any real point except to make them go off the road. She doesn't seem to fit into the narrative as a whole, but her followers appear enough to make it feel that there should be some real involvement. While it is hard to write this up as a fault in the artistry without knowing if it is intended as a serial or not, there are a lot of loose ends: the more-or-less innocent two people who got dragged into the undeath as well, the apparently random side trip into the wandering hills. The tension between the difficulty of immortal slavery and immediate death is brought out very well, though, as is the heroine's offbeat cunning and intelligence, and this does require things to happen. The thing I did find really jarring here, though, is that there is an action of self-sacrifice, which I feel should have led to some form of metaphysical redemption. If you end up undead for betraying, and then die rather than betray, that should undo the curse. If the idea is that the story goes on beyond the end of this book, then I'd be inclined to feel that this happening should have been reserved for later.
The political correctness also felt very out of place in the setting (fantasy based in deep history, and same sex unions are taken for granted all the way across the span of years and in societies that have dowry or bride price and where women have to worry about starving or blood feuds if they are slandered? It doesn't ring true) and seemed quite unnecessary to the story, which isn't about that. The use of "they" as a pronoun for one of the characters confuses the narrative exceedingly. It probably doesn't need to: it's just that there is a failure to follow the normal rule that you have to use a name if the pronoun is ambiguous.
What has happened to cause the, um, odd situation with the sword, is revealed over the course of the book mostly in memory scenes, but it is never really resolved. The descriptions are excellent: there's a very strong sense of place and time, and the general darkness of the whole thing is relieved by a lot of humour.
I wasn't sure I would take to this novel. From the blurb, it seemed to be a romantic sword novel, and I have leared to be cautious. Some are excellent and some, well, are less so. This one is truly excellent. It's funny. I mean laugh out loud funny, and in a real way. There aren't jokes, just well-fleshed out characters with funny reactions to odd situations. It's romantic, but very much not in a "she swooned over his muscular thews" way. It is romantic in a way that builds through awkwardness and missed intentions, just like real people. I recommend this book highly. Also, I will now look for the other books in this world, and any other worlds that T. Kingfisher has written.
Kingfisher/Vernon has an enviable streak of originality about her that I first became aware of via her semi-legendary webcomic Digger. This was the fourth novel of hers that I'd read and they just get better and better. A familiar sort of fantasy landscape is transformed by her expertly drawn and sympathetic protagonists , highly original plotting, and utterly convincing dialogue that HAS to be based on real people. I'm also very pleased that, unlike some fantasy authors who are not half as good, she has let Kindle price her books at a level that a pensioner, who has read his local library online collection dry during the pandemic, can afford.
This is set in the Clocktaur universe, but strikes out in a completely different direction, tackling a possessed sword. Most fantasy readers have encountered this theme but this is an immensely different take on it; it’s compelling, and addictive, and I am now impatiently waiting for the next volume. I should add that I am currently jet-lagged and assumed that I might manage a few pages before my attention span ground to a halt. Instead I read it straight through; it’s that good.