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Book Review

Book Cover

The Copper Promise


Author: Jen Williams
Publisher: Headline
RRP: £13.99
ISBN: 978 1 4722 1111 8
Publication Date: 13 February 2014

With his lands stolen and his family murdered, Lord Frith’s desire for vengeance leads him to breach The Citadel, a legendary prison within which it is said, a thousand years ago, mages imprisoned five gods. Although unimpressed with the legend, he nonetheless hires two sell swords, Wydrin of Crosshaven and her companion Sir Sebastian Caverson, a disgraced knight. Hoping for gold and possibly a few tales to tell the sell swords follow the Lord into the Citadel, unaware that even legends are based on some truth...

The Copper Promise (535 pages) is the debut fantasy novel from Jen Williams.

The book started out as a novella, which gained positive reviews, so it has now been expanded to a full novel. Being a fantasy book we are in your average medieval feudal society, with a bit of pirating thrown in. Our heroic trio consists of a damaged lord, a brooding knight and Wydrin, also known as the Copper Cat. She is attractive, adventurous and skilled enough to take on pretty much anyone. None of the characters have a developmental arc within the story, ending up essentially the same as when they started.

It’s not really spoiling much of the plot to reveal that what they find imprisoned in the Citadel is a dragon, it’s spelt out on the book as well as pictorially forming part of the books cover. Whether the dragon is a god is really a matter of perspective, one thing is certain it is powerful and bent on nothing but the total destruction of all lands.

With this in mind our heroes set off on various quests. If the book has a weakness it is its reliance on the quest to form the basis for the narrative, as the characters work their way through them towards the ultimate and inevitable final confrontation with the dragon.

Although this represents a weakness in the structure of the story, there is also much to admire. True the world is one that we have visited in numerous fantasy books, but thankfully Williams concentrates on writing a rip roaring adventure tale, rather than spend hours thinking up unpronounceable names for her characters. The words are different enough so that you are aware that this is a fictional land, but not so complex that you feel like you have to embark on a language course just to read it.

The story contains magic, villains and gods, but nothing is presented in such a way as to jar you out of the book, like the use of simple language all the concepts in the book are readily understandable and do little to detract from what is happening to the characters.

Although it is a long book, it didn’t feel like a chore to read and this from a reviewer who is no great fan of the fantasy genre. Relax into the book and you will find yourself on a roller-coaster of a ride as Williams very rarely lets the pace drop. Wit abounds and the thing which really draws you in is the relationship between the three main characters.

It is an accomplished first novel and one worth checking out.


Charles Packer

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