I picked up The Copper Promise not because I follow author Jen Williams on Twitter (and you should too) but because of two things:
- Big ass dragon on the cover.
- I like stories where there is payback.
I don’t quite know where to begin in this review because there is a hell of a lot going on in the book. We have a trio of characters, two are hired swords and their employer, a certain nobleman named Lord Frith (who has a chip on his shoulder the size of a large asteroid) heading into a very dangerous place where you don’t really come out alive…. and yet they somehow do. And this all happens very quickly so what I think Jen Williams has done nicely (and perhaps one of the reasons I don’t read as much epic fantasy as I should) is to weave the world building and the character’s motivations together by means of action. A hell of a lot of action, real fast. Within the first handful of chapters.
This is a formula I quite like and as a result, I was drawn into a story that is very broad in scope, yet somehow manages to keep the action flowing while maintaining a great deal of reader buy-in to each of the three main characters. And bad guys? Holy crap, does Williams write good bad guys, particularly Fane, who is a dirt bag of the highest order and someone you want killed of ASAP because he’s such a huge prick!
Sebastian is a wonderful grounding character for the over the top Wydrin who basically wants to stab every bad guy she sees in the face with her claws. Oh no, this girl isn’t into swords at all. She’s into daggers which means really nasty close quarter combat. She’s a great character who in another author’s hands might have come off as a bit too over the top. She has her moments of insight and the nature of her relationship with Sebastian is such that you can’t help but want her in your corner no matter what. Where Sebastian is sworn to duty, Wydrin is sworn to raise a little hell. I quite liked that.
Of course when you are on a quest, bad things tend to happen and in this book, we see the trio inadvertently release a great evil, namely the aforementioned big ass dragon. Oh, and her daughters. An unstoppable force that lay waste to everything in their path. They kill people, by the way. Everyone. Big or small, fat or tall, old or young. (The daughters are very complex characters in their own right. Not human, but seemingly titillated by humanity in the same way a child looks through a frost covered window at a train set during the holiday season – just before that same child stomps on all their toys in a violent rage come Boxing Day.)
The stakes are high throughout the book. There are very few moments of down time for our flawed but fascinating heroes. Often they take one step forward and two steps back but as you become immersed in the story, you can see how the characters learn to rely on each other.
The quality of Williams’ writing as fantastic. Her knack for descriptive prose is admirable and she’s the kind of writer I like – one who can paint a picture in a single sentence instead of five paragraphs. (Because some epic fantasy authors love the sound of their own world building they need to give each new locale, person, motive or plot point its own chapter.)
Overall, I highly recommend this book because it’s just plain fun. The reader gets a wild ride through a world that is as original as the characters who live there. A great read. Go get it!