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Book Review

Book Cover

The Bitter Twins


Author: Jen Williams
Publisher: Headline
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 1 4722 3520 6
Publication Date: 08 March 2018

The Jure’lia has awakened across the world of Sarn and monstrous colossus’ rise from their graves to threaten the world once again. The legendary Eborans, who have defeated this scourge many times, are a dying people, a pale imitation of their past glories. Gone are the great knights of old and gone are their battle-beast. Only a loose collection of half-grown beasts, men and Eborans now stand against the destruction of their whole planet…

The Bitter Twins (2018. 614 pages) is the second in a fantasy/science fiction hybrid trilogy, written by Jen Williams.

Williams has a nice reverential touch to her writing which was first seen in her Copper Cat Trilogy, and although none of these books could be considered comedies, there are comedic moments, with a sprinkle of appropriate expletives.

The story carries on directly from the first novel The Ninth Rain and the pace is such that it does little to get a new reader up to speed. You can get the general gist of what is happening fairly quickly, but you will miss all the nuances in the characters interrelationships.

Being the middle book, it is fair to say that this is Williams's The Two Towers as she splits her main characters sending them off on different quest. The fell-witch Noon and Tor mount their mighty battle beasts to travel across the Barren sea in search of artworks, which contain ancient memories, in the hope that they may be able to help the riders and beast work as one battle unit, as they did in the previous invasions.

Vintage, an old but very plucky human archaeologist, stays behind in the Eboran Palace with her past companion, Nan. Like the other pairings this part of the story introduces a new character, the tragic Erin. Although he looks like a child, his race is very long lived so when he is found he has been living on his own for some considerable time in circumstances which are reminiscent of a horror film. As well as dealing with a new child she also has to protect the last remaining beast eggs, from both friend and foe.

The third pairing is that of Aldasair and Bern, who fly off to help Bern’s people when a downed Jure’lia ship starts to wake up, threatening his whole tribe. Lastly we have Hestillion, who is trapped with her own beast on the corpse moon with the Jure’lia queen.

So, there is a lot going on, which accounts for the book's length and apart from Vintage's story, which does not take up quite so many pages, each of the quests add important information about the Jure’lia and the real nature of Sarn and the Eboran.

The world building remains impressive but not as impressive as Williams’s sense of character. Each is incredibly well written from the vampire princes to the queen, even if she does come over as a particularly nasty type of Borg, I particularly like the character of Vintage. The pace is kept up throughout the majority of the book and there were only a few instances where I thought that there was a bit of filler. Not that this lasts long as the chapters constantly switch between the various groups perspectives.

I pretty much read the book cover to cover devouring what is an eminently enjoyable fantasy story. The book also has the added advantage of having many science fiction elements and so represents a good crossover novel.


Charles Packer

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