The key point I want you to remember as you read this review of the Copper Promise by Jen Williams is that it is a lot of fun to read. And by that I mean: miss-your-stop-on-the-train fun to read.
The Copper Promise is a collection of four e-novellas, which can also be purchased as one book. I read them as four e-novellas but will review them as one stand-alone book as it very much is one story split across four books rather than four separate stories.
The Copper Promise is a swords and sorcery romp across a world containing monsters, gods, magic and demons. The story is fast paced and quirky but with some darker moments. I can’t say the plot of this novel is breaking the rules of the genre, but then it is quite clearly not trying too.
Where this novel does stand out, however, is the characters. While on the face of it many of your standard fantasy characters are in attendance, they have all been given more than enough individuality to make them interesting in their own right. These characters alone would make the Copper Promise worth reading, but having them married to a tight plot written with humour makes the book a genuine page turner.
Perhaps the standout character is Wydrin of Crosshaven, a female merc with a mouth.
Hands up if you just pictured this
As chatty as she is deadly, Wydrin is undoubtedly the star of the Copper Promise; adding elements of humour and old fashioned derring-do to the novel. Wydryn is a particularly impressive creation as she manages to be both lethal and feminine without ever straying into any annoying cliches.
Her partner, Sebastian, is a huge knight guided by honour who has been expelled from an ancient order for spurious reasons. So far so fantasy standard, and a pretty uninteresting fantasy standard at that. In Williams’ hands, however, the character is developed far beyond that level and is given very much his own voice throughout the work. Other characters may steal more scenes in the Copper Promise, but Sebastian is its beating heart.
The main protagonist is Lord Frith, whose attempts to regain his family’s land and fortune drive much of the plot. In this character Williams has created a hero who is compelling, understandable and an arrogant pillock all at the same time.
My only, slight, criticism of the Copper Promise is that I couldn’t shake the feeling that the author was reining herself in when it came to some of the humour. That’s not to say the Copper Promise isn’t funny, it clearly is. It is just that I feel Jen Williams could do a riotous deconstruction of fantasy tropes in the manner of Terry Pratchett, and could do it well. Should the author ever do a book in this style I will be the first to buy it, I promise.
If you are a fantasy lover you should, at the very least, pick up the first of the e-novellas in this series (Ghosts in the Citadel). It’s very cheap and will let you know if you will enjoy the whole series, which you probably will. To be honest, if you know you like swords and sorcery I’d just save yourself the trouble and order the complete novel on amazon
Jen Williams also has her own fantasy blog, which is also worth a look for lovers of fantasy.
If you liked the picture you can find the photostream where I found it here.