I review The Shattered Crown by J.W. Webb.
‘You ride into peril, Corin an Fol!’
Those are the words of the witch at the ford. Corin an Fol, mercenary, brawler, womaniser and drinker, ignores them and thus finds himself caught in a tangled web of sorcery, intrigue and dark prophesy.
When the High King is murdered and his broken crown goes missing, Queen Ariane suspects the wily hand of Caswallon the sorcerer. She forms a secret council and rides out to find the Oracle of her Goddess, to see if her worries are proved right. But Caswallon is onto her and the noose tightens fast around the young queen.
Corin an Fol returns to his village seeking solace in drink. Instead he finds an old contact waiting for him who persuades him to join Queen Ariane in her fight against Caswallon. And so, like the queen, Corin an Fol is snared by the sorcerer. Our boy has a big sword and bad attitude, but is that enough to survive the hordes Caswallon sends against them?
The second in The Legends of Ansu series, The Shattered Crown can be read without reading the first book, Gol, and it stands well on its own. I suppose it would fit into the grimdark fantasy category, alongside the likes of Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie. The Shattered Crown is dark, gritty, adult fantasy.
I can take or leave grimdark, if I’m honest. Sometimes it’s too gratuitous or brutal, but sometimes the author gets it right. Webb gets it right. He strikes a balance between violence and story, and the characters, particularly Corin, are immediately engaging. There are some Strong Female Characters (I know), but they play their parts well. A lot of (male) grimdark fantasy writers get their female characters all wrong, but Webb manages to create realistic women, who also kick arse and take names.
The Shattered Crown promises to give fans of Game of Thrones something to sink their teeth into between GRRM’s books (and the TV series!). It isn’t for the faint-hearted.