Book review: Black Cross

Book review: Black cross

My rating

Bohostars

Book review

A fantastic debut in the series and from the author, this book is a mixture of World of Warcraft franchise and The Elder Scrolls. Guilds of morally questionable assassins and experimentative mages spread fear in our mind while bubonic plague makes our heart twist with sufferings and loss of the people. Torture racks (whoever played Skyrim, remember the torturer in Helgen?), dungeons, kobolds, goblins, gnome clerics (didn’t know they are similar to the idea of healers), dwarves barely give us any breathing time before a civil riot breaks out.

After an intense prolog, the first chapter was deceptively unimpressive. Soon, I realized how the author had tricked me (just like his assassins) into looking for more. Each character and each scene were important in this book. The editor has done an excellent job in not striking off any of those. I can’t say there weren’t any weaknesses in the book. Since this is the first attempt in self-publishing by the author, a few dialogs and lines can be easily overlooked. It took an awfully long time to finish this book because I had to keep going back to keep track of groups or individual characters. But what a great book!

Do I like this book? Aye.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this grimdark fantasy sandwiched between a few slices of political drama, with the goodness of Backbiting assassins and mages guild master screwing up ‘for the greater good.’

Elves in this book are almost human but live in Tolkien-like tree houses, enchanting weapons, and armors.

Scenes of rescue attempts for and by prostitutes and the assassin, a mage who makes a grave mistake for the greater good, elves unhappy with the capricious nature of human mind, Nagas falling between human, elves and fellow Nagas, a dark prince (still waiting for the details btw). This is one book that can be read as a standalone, but a series will be welcome. Thank the author for not leaving us with a nasty cliffhanger!

My recommendation

A word of warning, this book is meant for mature readers. This story is no rosy romance. The love and other tender emotions in this book brew from near death experiences, rape, and pillage. If you appreciate strong story-telling with a matter-of-fact, realistic tone of narration with rarely any exaggeration of emotion, this books is a must read for you.

I think this is a good example of hard fantasy (I don’t have an alternative word for this. If it works for sci-fi why not fantasy?)
The author has woven a complex plot with subparallel subplots and good magic system. The large variety of races is tough to retain in your memory if you are new in the fantasy genre. In the beginning, I found the language difficult (local dialects, think it is called cockney?) But after a second read, I felt it was necessary as an adorably innocent relief from the gritty, gory chain of events.

I am going to recommend this book to every serious fantasy lovers, and I am eagerly waiting for the next in the series.

Book details

Series: Black Powder Wars
Format for review: Kindle Edition (Amazon.in)
File Size: 3511 KB
Print Length: 670 Pages
Publisher: J P Ashman; 3 edition (10 January 2015) (self-published)
Language: English

Book blurb (publisher’s summary)

A mysterious scroll finds its way into Lord Severun’s hands, enabling him to release a dangerous experiment upon Wesson. With Sergeant Falchion unable to forgive himself for aiding the wizard, and desperate factions taking advantage of the devastating aftermath, Falchion embarks on an arduous quest alongside friends and strangers alike. However, even if their attempt to seek aid is successful and the city is saved, they risk revealing a secret that threatens much more than Wesson alone.

From a fantasy world not too dissimilar to our own dark and bloody histories, the beginning of an epic tale is told. Incredible magic is unleashed, allies become enemies; unlikely friendships are forged, and a foul plot is discovered that will shatter the long lasting peace of Altoln and her allies, plunging them into a gritty, brutal conflict that falls far from the fluffy fairy tales of old.

Available in books stores and Amazon India

So what say you?