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Friday Reads: The Copper Promise (reviewed by Den Patrick)

the copper promiseToday we have a special Friday Reads from our author Den Patrick, who is doing an event with Jen Williams in March (details below). We thought it only fitting that The Copper Promise be reviewed by Den in preparation for what promises to be a great event. 

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

I first bumped into Jen at an SFX weekender years ago and recognised her as ‘that self-publishing lady from Twitter.’ It’s been fun watching her make the transition to signed and published author, sharing her deadpan humour, love of Mass Effect, and Lego along the way. This humour and love of all things ‘geek’ have found their way onto the page. Sure, The Copper Promise is dark, often bloody, frequently frightening, but there’s also bucket loads of camaraderie, sarcasm, and an unashamed love of Fantasy and the fantastic. Modern fantasy can be preoccupied with gravity and grittiness; it feels as if we stopped admitting it could be fun. Not so The Copper Promise.

Like many good adventures, in books and in roleplaying games, the story gets underway when two sell-swords take the coin of a mysterious benefactor in a tavern. The sell-swords in this case being a disgraced knight of Ynnsmouth, Sir Sebastian, and his equally disgraceful friend, Wydrin, the self-proclaimed Copper Cat of Crosshaven, a wily thief. This is an odd pairing yet a pleasing one: Sebastian is noble and true, Wydrin opportunistic, out for gold and mead. Joining the Copper Cat and Sebastian is the haughty Lord Frith, who starts the book in dire straits, having lost his family, his livelihood, and the very seat of his power. What they unleash, the hardships they endure, the mistakes they make, the arguments they have (many) and trials they overcome, are a joy to read about.

This is Sword and Sorcery, where magic is big and explodey, dragons are malevolent forces of destruction, and trickster gods still walk the earth (and are damned crotchety to boot). There are pirates and magic, demons and disciples, undead soldiers and noble knights. If you’re thinking this sounds like a lot of fun you’d be gods damned right. It gave me that feeling I get watching The Princess Bride, and that’s no bad thing at all.

The characters dynamic put in me in mind of Chris Wooding’s writing and the crew of the Ketty Jay. There’s lots of bickering, blisteringly funny one liners – mainly Wydrin, truth be told. Though they are often at odds with each other, the characters come together to overcome destruction and they all grow and learn something about themselves along the way.

The plot moves at breakneck speed: no navel gazing or pondering for these folk. The focus cuts back and forth between the characters and never is this more thrilling than at the book’s climax as Frith and Wydrin undertake a dangerous task, while Sebastian has the fight of his life (and for his very soul).

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to track down my very own jet black griffin to ride around on, because as Bruce Wayne once said, ‘Does it come in black?

Den Patrick is author of the War-Fighting Manuals, his first novel, The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, is released on the 20th March.

Den and Jen will be appearing at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road on 10th March, at 6:00pm. Jared Shurin of Pornokitsch and the Kitschies will be interviewing them, with a Q&A from the audience to follow.