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review 2019-06-05 09:53
Diese Bummelei könnte sich rächen
A Blade of Black Steel - Alex Marshall

Das erfreulich emanzipierte Frauenbild in der „The Crimson Empire“-Trilogie ist kein Versehen, sondern Absicht. Der Autor Alex Marshall konzipierte bewusst ein tolerantes Setting voller Diversität. Auf dem Stern gibt es keine Homophobie, keine Transphobie, keine sexualisierte Gewalt und bis auf eine Ausnahme auch keinen institutionalisierten Rassismus. Sein Ziel war, die Vielfalt der Realität zu repräsentieren und Diskriminierung durch deren Abwesenheit zu thematisieren. Er wollte beweisen, dass moderne Fantasy spannend und actionreich sein kann, ohne die Defizite unserer Gesellschaft zu reproduzieren. Ich finde, das ist ein mutiger Schritt, der dem Genre guttut. Umso mehr freute ich mich auf den zweiten Band „A Blade of Black Steel“.

 

Der Sieg der Kobalt-Kompanie war teuer erkauft. Zahllose Soldat_innen wurden von dem schwarzen Portal, das die Burnished Chain heraufbeschwor, verschluckt. Ji-hyeon und ihre Berater_innen müssen entscheiden, wie es für ihre stark dezimierten Truppen weitergehen soll. Eine erneute Offensive der königlichen Streitkräfte würden sie nicht überstehen. Doch nach dem unheilvollen Ritual sind die Fronten unklar. Es besteht die Chance, die gegnerische Generalin davon zu überzeugen, dass die Chain Pläne verfolgt, die die Autorität der Karmesinroten Königin gefährden. Um sich aus dem Patt zu manövrieren, müssen sie geeint auftreten – leider ist Maroto noch immer verschwunden und Zosia sucht von Rachedurst getrieben die Konfrontation mit ihrer Nachfolgerin. Streit und Intrigen lähmen die Kobalt-Kompanie. Gerade, als alle glauben, schlimmer könne es nicht kommen, erreichen sie Gerüchte, dass das Ritual der Chain weit bedeutendere Folgen hatte als nur ein neues Portal. Das Versunkene Königreich Jex Toth soll sich erhoben haben. Angeblich sammelt sich dort eine unmenschliche Armee, bereit, den Stern anzugreifen. Die Kobalts müssen wählen: werden sie helfen, den Stern zu schützen oder nutzen sie Gunst der Stunde für ihre eigenen Ziele?

 

Oh oh oh. Ob das noch was wird? Alex Marshall sollte wirklich an Tempo zulegen. „A Blade of Black Steel“ ist noch langatmiger und schwerfälliger als der erste Band „A Crown for Cold Silver“. Während ich die inhaltliche Trägheit des Auftakts verzeihen konnte, weil die Etablierung eines neuen Universums und neuer Figuren diese rechtfertigt, mache ich mir jetzt Sorgen, dass der Autor zu zaghaft vorgeht. Die Geschichte macht dermaßen langsam Fortschritte, dass ich nicht sicher bin, ob es ihm gelingen wird, die „The Crimson Empire“-Trilogie zu einem befriedigenden Abschluss zu bringen. Meinem Gefühl nach gibt es noch unheimlich viel zu erzählen, doch statt im zweiten Band in die Vollen zu gehen, druckst Marshall herum. Ich hatte den Eindruck, dass die Handlung lange feststeckte, weil sich die Figuren einfach nicht vom Fleck bewegten. Die Dynamik stagnierte und büßte jeglichen Schwung ein. Nach der Schlacht gegen die 15. Kavallerieeinheit befindet sich die Kobalt-Kompanie in einer desolaten Zwickmühle. Sie können sich keinen weiteren Kampf leisten, es scheint jedoch, als sei eine erneute Konfrontation unvermeidbar, ob sie ihre Position nun halten oder verlassen. Sie können weder vor noch zurück. Ihr einziger Ausweg besteht darin, sich mit den royalen Regimentern gegen die Burnished Chain zu verbünden. Eine riskante Strategie, denn niemand versteht, was die Chain damit bezweckt, Jex Toth zurückzubringen. Ich übrigens auch nicht. Marshall bietet leider nur sehr vage Informationen zu den Glaubenssystemen des Sterns. Ich weiß nicht, was das Auftauchen des ehemals Versunkenen Königreichs bedeutet und inwiefern es die Pläne der Chain, die Karmesinrote Königin Indsorith vom Thron zu stürzen, unterstützt. Die allgemeine Ahnungslosigkeit führt dazu, dass die Kobalt-Kompanie Jex Toth weitgehend ignoriert und sich ihren akuten Problemen widmet. Der Generationskonflikt, der sich im Vorgänger bereits andeutete, tritt in „A Blade of Black Steel“ deutlich zu Tage. Ji-hyeon und Zosia streiten sich und werden sogar handgreiflich. Es gefiel mir, wie ernsthaft Marshall diese Auseinandersetzung gestaltet und dadurch abermals das emanzipierte Frauenbild seines Universums betont. Ich fühle mich als Frau in der „The Crimson Empire“-Trilogie gut repräsentiert. Die Prügelei zwischen Ji-hyeon und Zosia ist natürlich nicht die einzige actionreiche Szene. Obwohl das Buch generell eher zäh ist, schenkte mir der Autor eine der besten Schlachten meiner Literaturkarriere. Es ist ein Kampf mit einem riesigen, dämonischen Opossum. Ja, richtig. Ein Opossum. Diese Stelle war aufregend, herrlich freakig und erfrischend witzig. Marshalls Humor entschädigte mich für vieles. Er zeigt ein inspirierendes Gespür für Absurdität, Sarkasmus und die Ironie des Schicksals, das er nutzt, um die tiefliegenden Konflikte seiner liebenswürdigen Figuren ungezwungen zu thematisieren. Dennoch bezweifle ich, dass er ihnen erlauben wird, diese innerhalb der Trilogie zu überwinden. Sie haben schließlich nur noch ein Buch Zeit dafür.

 

„A Blade of Black Steel“ wartet nicht mit den inhaltlichen Fortschritten auf, die ich mir im zweiten Band der „The Crimson Empire“-Trilogie erhofft hatte. Teils ist das sicher der äußerst komplizierten politischen und religiösen Situation auf dem Stern geschuldet. Der Autor Alex Marshall trug jedoch ebenfalls seinen Teil dazu bei. Er manövrierte die Handlung in eine Sackgasse, wodurch ich lange das Gefühl hatte, dass rein gar nichts passierte und auch nichts passieren konnte. Erst gegen Ende der Fortsetzung involvierte er neue, externe Impulse, die die Geschichte aus ihrem Patt herauskatapultieren. Die alles entscheidende Frage lautet nun: wird Marshall diese Bummelei in „A Blade of Black Steel“ daran hindern, die Trilogie im Finale zufriedenstellend abzuschließen? Die Antwort werde ich erst in „A War in Crimson Embers“ finden, aber eines ist gewiss. Er muss zu Potte kommen.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/alex-marshall-a-blade-of-black-steel
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review 2019-04-17 10:11
Wie, ihr mochtet es nicht? O.O
A Crown for Cold Silver - Alex Marshall

Ich bin ein bisschen irritiert, dass so viele Rezensent_innen von „A Crown for Cold Silver“ davon sprechen, dass der Autor unbekannt sei, weil Alex Marshall ein Pseudonym ist. Es ist zwar korrekt, dass Alex Marshall nicht der wahre Name des Schriftstellers ist, aber es handelt sich um ein weiches Pseudonym. Es ist kein Geheimnis, wer sich dahinter verbirgt: Jesse Bullington. Bevor er die Low Fantasy – Trilogie „The Crimson Empire“ schrieb, veröffentlichte Bullington drei übernatürliche historische Romane. Es ist nicht ungewöhnlich, anlässlich eines Genrewechsels ein Pseudonym zu implementieren. Rätselraten ist also nicht nötig. Alias oder nicht, für mich war der Autor ohnehin nicht ausschlaggebend, als ich entschied, „A Crown for Cold Silver“ zu kaufen. Es war das Rachemotiv.

 

Alt werden stinkt. Von der Frau, die Zosia einst war, ist nicht mehr viel übrig. Fort ist ihre Jugend, dahin ihr kobaltblaues Haar, das ihr den Namen verlieh, unter dem sie jeder Mann, jede Frau und jedes Kind auf dem Stern kannte. Aber an der Seite ihres Ehemannes Leib war all das in Ordnung. Mit Leib konnte sie ihre düstere Vergangenheit hinter sich lassen – die Rebellion, die Kobalt-Kompanie, ihre Fünf Schurken, sogar die Krone. Sie inszenierte ihren Tod und verschwand in die Anonymität eines kleinen Bergdorfes am Rande des Karmesinroten Königreichs. 20 Jahre ist das nun her. Sie glaubte, Leib und sie wären sicher. Ein furchtbarer Irrtum. Eines Morgens reitet eine Kavallerieeinheit in ihr Dorf und metzelt die gesamte Bevölkerung nieder. Zosia kann als einzige entkommen. Sieht aus, als wäre sie doch noch nicht so ganz vergessen. Fest entschlossen, herauszufinden, wer ihr ans Leder will und für das Massaker verantwortlich ist, sinnt Zosia auf Rache. Es wird Zeit, dass Cold Cobalt von den Toten aufersteht.

 

Abgesehen von der Ratlosigkeit bezüglich der wahren Identität des Autors Alex Marshall irritierten mich die Rezensionen zu „A Crown for Cold Silver“ aus einem weiteren Grund: der Trilogieauftakt kam bei anderen Leser_innen weniger gut an, als ich erwartet hatte. Ich mochte das Buch sehr und war völlig von den Socken, als ich herausfand, dass ich die Geschichte und besonders die Charaktere komplett anders wahrgenommen hatte. Ich verstehe gar nicht, wie es möglich ist, dass unsere Meinungen so weit auseinandergehen. Ich kann ihnen lediglich darin zustimmen, dass sich „A Crown for Cold Silver“ zieht. Ja, es ist langatmig und erfordert Geduld, aber da es sich um den Beginn eines Dreiteilers handelt, kann ich Alex Marshall das gemächliche Tempo verzeihen. Dadurch erhielt ich viel Zeit, um eine Bindung zu den zahlreichen Figuren aufzubauen, was mir im Gegensatz zu anderen Rezensent_innen mühelos gelang. Ich fand sie glaubhaft, faszinierend und liebenswürdig, von den prominenten Akteuren bis zum letzten Statisten. Die zentrale Antiheldin Zosia eroberte mein Herz im Sturm. Ich verfiel ihrem spröden Charme im Handumdrehen und konnte mir problemlos vorstellen, dass diese eindrucksvolle Frau 20 Jahre zuvor eine Revolutionsarmee anführte. Es gefiel mir, dass so viele Figuren nicht mehr jung sind, weil ich mich an der latenten Altersdiskriminierung in der Fantasy störe. Ebenso freute mich, dass Alex Marshall ein beeindruckend emanzipiertes Frauenbild vermittelt. Starke weibliche Charaktere sind in „A Crown for Cold Silver“ die Regel, nicht die Ausnahme und ein Geschlechterkonflikt war für mich überhaupt nicht erkennbar. Zosia ist in den mittleren Jahren und blickt auf eine bewegte Vergangenheit zurück. Unterstützt von der Kobalt-Kompanie und ihren fünf engsten Gefährten, den Fünf Schurken, putschte sie sich auf den Thron des Karmesinroten Königreichs. Der Realität des Regierens hielten ihre Träume von einer gerechten Zukunft jedoch leider nicht stand. Enttäuscht gab sie auf, fingierte ihren eigenen Tod und lief davon. Ich fand diese Hintergrundgeschichte sehr originell, weil Revolutionen in High und Low Fantasy meist positiv konnotiert sind. Selten wird illustriert, wie schwierig der Weg zur Gerechtigkeit ist und noch seltener ist Scheitern eine reelle Option. Als Zosia nach dem Massaker ihr Dorf verlässt, muss sie feststellen, dass sich die Lage im Königreich seit ihrem „Tod“ nicht verbessert hat. Die aktuelle Königin Indsorith und die Kirche der Burnished Chain konkurrieren erbittert miteinander, worunter das einfache Volk natürlich zu leiden hat. Dieser Konflikt bildet die Basis der Trilogie. Es geht allerdings um deutlich mehr als politisches Gerangel und Zosias privaten Rachefeldzug, denn die Chain entpuppt sich als gefährlich fanatische Institution, die mit dunklen Mächten kokettiert, um eine Neuordnung der Welt zu erzwingen. Dennoch eignet sich selbstverständlich niemand besser, sie aufzuhalten, als die in die Jahre gekommene Ex-Generalin auf mörderischer Mission.

 

Es tut mir leid, dass „A Crown for Cold Silver” einige Leser_innen nicht begeistern konnte. Ich verstehe ihre Kritik, kann mich dieser aber nur begrenzt anschließen. Ich fand den Trilogieauftakt toll. Die Geschichte hat es in sich, nichts ist, wie es scheint und alle Figuren verfolgen eigene Ziele und Pläne, was ich als äußerst spannend empfand. Außerdem ist das Buch einfach witzig. Alex Marshall beweist einen beiläufigen, subtilen Sinn für Humor, der immer wieder hervorblitzt, ohne die Ernsthaftigkeit der Handlung zu untergraben oder sie ins Lächerliche zu ziehen. Low Fantasy muss nicht zwangsläufig grimmig oder düster sein, sie darf die Leser_innen durchaus zum Lachen bringen. Mir hat die Lektüre deshalb viel Spaß bereitet und ich freue mich auf die Folgebände. Es gibt noch so viel, was ich wissen möchte! Warum gründete Zosia einst die Kobalt-Kompanie? Wie lernte sie ihre Fünf Schurken kennen? Wie genau soll die neue Weltordnung der Burnished Chain aussehen? Ich fand „A Crown for Cold Silver“ wirklich vielversprechend – schade, dass es nicht allen anderen Leser_innen ebenso erging.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/17/alex-marshall-a-crown-for-cold-silver
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review 2016-03-21 14:56
A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall - My Thoughts
A Crown for Cold Silver - Alex Marshall

Well, this is the first disappointment of 2016 for me.  A Crown for Cold Silver was recommended and lauded by so many fantasy blogs and on many lists but for the life of me, I don't know why.  

 

At 650 pages, this is one hefty novel!  It's that long because there are pages and pages and pages of exposition and internal debate and just plain blah-blah-blah.  It never went anywhere!  650 pages of introducing the characters and discovering their motivations and even then... EVEN THEN, I'm not clear on much of it.  I don't know how many times I muttered Just get on with it! under my breath.  

 

Most of the characters showed hints of being interesting, a few even became so, but there was so much blathering going on that this development was often lost.  And I had a problem in that I kept mixing up two of them.  Two of the 5 Villains.  They're important characters and I shouldn't have kept confusing them, but there you go.  

 

At times, some of the dialogue/inner dialogue was jarring because all of a sudden words from our 2016 reality were thrown in.  Dude?  Really?  And also... there is tons of world-building, much of which is interesting and intriguing (but FAR too heavily explained) and there are new and different things the, all of a sudden, they're mentioning VINDALOO??? Makes no freaking sense to me.  

 

So in the end, the book/series that I was looking forward to, let me down.  I'm in no rush to purchase the next book.  Maybe if it shows up on my $1.99 sale page, but I have far too many other books to check out before I subject myself to more Just get on with it! reading.

 

Colour me disappointed. 

 

 

 

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review 2016-01-06 16:00
OPINION OF EPIC GRIMDARK FANTASY SOURS AFTER A FEW WEEKS
A Crown for Cold Silver - Alex Marshall

Immediately after finishing this novel, I rated it 3.5 star. Now, after mulling it over for a few weeks, I'm downgrading that to a 2.5 star rating for reasons to be explained.

A Crown for Cold Silver was a book seemingly tailor made for my tastes; a grimdark-esque, epic fantasy which throws you directly into a complex story, demanding that you quickly acclimate yourself to the setting and characters, as multiple points of view are used to create a rich, new world filled with unique races, strange cultures, and a deep history. At least, that is how I envisioned it. And for the first two-thirds of the novel, I enjoyed Alex Marshall’s first foray into the Crimson Empire well enough, but then the negative elements of the story overcame the positives, sending my enjoyment of the narrative into a nosedive until it eventually crumbled into oblivion after a very disappointing ending. I’ll explain why in a moment. First, let me describe the set up of this fantasy tale.

A few decades ago, a tough-as-nails revolutionary called Cold Cobalt aka the Banshee with a Blade and the First Among Villains lead her Five Villains and their home grown army across the Crimson Empire, fighting to destroy the monarchy and uplift the downtrodden people. And through skill, trickery, and pure luck, Cold Cobalt succeeded in her coup and crowned herself Queen Zosia of the Crimson Empire. May her enlightened reign last forever!

Only one problem: Zosia didn’t particularly like being queen. She found the politics and constant scheming by the remaining nobility and the Black Pope (leader of the Burnished Chain religion) insanely annoying, and when her idealistic dreams for social reform and uniform justice for all began to fail, she did what she did best: She challenged someone to a duel to the death, winner take the Empire.

In the years since Queen Zosia lost that duel, the Crimson Empire has been in perpetual turmoil. The current Queen and Black Pope fighting a bloody civil war (which has only recently ended); Zosia’s Five Villains taking part for a while before disappearing from the world stage; and the commoners whom Cold Cobalt sought to aid finding themselves beaten down more than ever. Out of this chaos, a new revolutionary movement has arisen, proclaiming in pamphlets and graffiti that ‘Zosia Lives!’

Far away from the social unrest and brewing revolution lies an isolated mountain hamlet. The people there are poor but proud, and they have avoided the civil wars, paid taxes to which ever side demanded them. When a regiment of troops arrive unexpected, they do not come for cows or goats or crops, but for blood; their mission to send a message to someone; someone they do not even know. Their subsequent acts of horrible savagery shattering the idyllic life of an aging character, who is then driven from the shadows of domestic bliss, forced to charge out into an unfamiliar world seeking bloody revenge, looking for old friends and allies, and desperately trying to recapture the old magic which once came so easy. This individual never suspecting that the war to determined the fate of the Crimson Empire – and the very world — has already begun!

Well, it sounds pretty damn good when I describe it like that, right?

And A Crown for Cold Silver did start out great. At least, in my eyes, it did.. The beginning chapters quickly and effortlessly capturing the trauma and determination of our main character. The writing style, the prose, was amazing, detailed yet crisp, leading me to favorably compare the book to one of my favorites: George R.R. Martin’s Mi>A Game of Thrones. Needless to say, I believed great things awaited me among the pages of this grimdark-esque fantasy.

Then things began to happen. Small missteps really. But they began to add up quickly. Soon, enough had arisen that I felt frustration take hold of me. Eventually, there were so many issues I had to encourage myself to finish the story. And, now, I find it difficult to write this review, because I know the negatives will greatly outstrip the positives, and I really hate to speak negatively about a writer’s work. Obviously, I can and have done so, but I don’t enjoy it; it doesn’t make me feel good. Since I’m a reviewer by choice, however, I feel it only fair to let people know the issues I had with A Crown for Cold Silver, and then they can decide for themselves if they agree or disagree with me.

First, the story was too slow. In sections, it literally crawled. I blame this on too many points of view. We go from a handful at the beginning to a plethora of characters by the end. While it certainly isn’t unusual for an epic fantasy to have multiple characters, A Crown for Cold Silver really over did it, causing the story of each person to really stagnate, as they waited for their time in the spotlight. Sure, there was a minor amount of character development, but not nearly enough considering the length of this novel.

Second, I never connected with any of the characters. Let me talk about main and supporting characters separately. Please understand that I’m using those designations loosely, because there were so many point of view characters it is difficult to pin down who the lead actually was.

For my part, I assumed the “main” character was the old-badass-coming-out-of-retirement-to-get-revenge. Naturally, I envisioned significant character development as this person dealt with a huge personal tragedy, reconnected with old friends, faced previous enemies, tried to fit into a different world, and schemed for revenge. What I got wasn’t even close. The character never developed after an amazing opening introduction. Instead, this person traveled around telling everyone “Hey, I’m a badass!” rather than actually doing anything remotely badass, then spent the rest of the time being made a fool of by lesser characters, propositioning sex from any girl who gets close for more than 5 seconds, and reminiscing about smoking, drugs, sex, and the epic skill of pipe carving. (Yes, pipe carving seems to be a big thing.) Honestly, by the end of the story, I really did not like this person at all, nor did I care if they lived or died.

As for the “supporting” characters, they were a mixed bag, but the one constant was that they were fairly unlikeable. One of them is a recovering drug addict who is a repetitive screw up, but he never seem to learn from his mistakes; another is a young man (Think Saul Silver from the moviePineapple Express) who wants to find his way in the world, but never knows how to do anything except smoke “weed”; a third is a young princess determined to prove her maturity by acting like a brat most of the time, smoking “weed”, sleeping with whomever she pleases, and refusing to listen to anyone older than thirty; and another is a religious warrior whose deformities and magical abilities mark her as a freak, but who deals with her outcast status by satisfying her sexual fetishes at every opportunity. Perhaps it is just me, but none of these guys were the least bit compelling, amusing, or complex, nor do they grow or develop at all. There were several other minor characters mixed in with these, but none of them really amounted to much other than being moving scenery.

Third, the plot twists began to loose their “WOW!” factor after a while. Twists and turns, shocks and surprises, they are part of what makes a story great. But they have to be used sparingly, or they become pretty meh. I mean, honestly, hasn’t George R.R. Martin’s tendency to kill every Stark . . . uh, I mean, main character gotten fairly pedestrian after five books? It has to me anyway, because I know it is going to happen, so there really isn’t a big “WOW!” moment, but rather an “Oh, that again” moment. And that is how I felt inCrown, because every few chapters there was another revelation about this character being someone else or this character having a hidden motive. After the third time of someone taking their helmet off and saying “Look I’m not really John Doe; I’m Jim Doe!” I just began to roll my eyes.

Fourth, the supposed gender equality. I’m all for gender equality. Strong men, strong women. Nothing better than two equals dealing with one another. Sure, some characters will be stronger than others, but no Richard Rahl-like supermen in a 2015 fantasy books, right? And I was really hopeful Crown was going to deliver a world without gender inequality. What Alex Marshall does, however, is merely replace the dominate man of yesteryears with a dominant woman and proudly declare, “Look, look, gender equality has been delivered.” I really hate to point this out, but that isn’t gender equality, merely role reversal, and it isn’t anything but a female power fantasy, the same as old school fantasy was all about male power fantasies. I mean, this is the twenty-first century, and our gender equality is a woman rescuing a male prostitute from the whorehouse and marrying him – because he is so good in bed? Or, maybe, it is a female head of household with a mustache, smoking a pipe, and ordering everyone around while her husband isn’t referred to at all – except as a sperm donor? Perhaps, it is another female who is betting on whether – she can get a certain man in bed? Or the female warriors being more skilled, more deadly, more clever, more everything than their male counterparts – even their so called equals? It goes on and on. Yay, fantasy gender equality. Ain’t it so original. Just change “he” to “she” in any story, and it is now gender equal, because our hero is Ricki Rahl, not Richard Rahl!

Fifth, the world building turned into a hodgepodge of real world cultures pieced together rather than a new, fresh world. Every culture in this book can be easily matched with its real world counterpart. The Burnished Chain and its Black Pope are so clearly a fantasy version of the Catholic Church and the Pope that it isn’t really funny. One country has Korean names and a Korean culture. Another has Indian names and Indian cultural references. It goes on and on. Some reviewers have labeled this tendency by Alex Marshall to just pick up and place real world cultures into the story without modifying them at all (except for gender equality and diversity modifications, of course) a “linguistic short-cut” to allow the author to have full grown and familiar cultures without having to bog a reader down in world building, and I can understand that, but I don’t like it. I have had issues with Glen Cook doing this same thing in his Instrumentalities of the Night series, which is so clearly thirteenth century Europe that it almost reads like historical fiction, and if I’m not willing to let my favorite fantasy author get away with it, I’m not overlooking this tendency by pseudonym Alex Marshall.

Sixth, diversity. I always get bashed, insulted, and generally trolled for pointing this out, but diversity means that lots of different lifestyles are portrayed in a story. That is diversity. Saying a story is diverse when every character is a bisexual and is promiscuous is like arguing that Lord of the Rings was diverse when every single person in the story is a heterosexual in a married relationship. It just isn’t true, and it is downright silly for you to argue that it is. And, unfortunately, Alex Marshall chose to follow the current discriminatory pattern of non-diversity by filling this tale with gender-swapped house-husbands, mustached female husbands, overpowered female warriors, weak and stupid men, and a world where every single person whose sexual preference is mentioned is bisexual. Guess that is our current excepted form of diversity: no heteros. Damn, seems eerily similar to years ago when no one could be homosexual in a fantasy, doesn’t it?

Seventh, the ending left me underwhelmed. I’m struggling to find the right words without giving away spoilers, so with that in mind, I’ll merely say the conclusion was rather stale and blah. The buildup to the confrontation wasn’t especially riveting; I wasn’t given any reason to care which side won; the foreshadowing for the first big “WOW!” moment (Oh, yes, there are two.) didn’t peak my interest very much; and when the characters were in danger, I didn’t care if they lived or died, because I’d been given no reason to like them. Even the second big “WOW!” moment, which was suppose to set up the next book, was fairly ho-hum.

Honestly, this novel is a real paradox to me. It is a story which I enjoyed immensely at the beginning, comparing it favorably to George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, then gradually lost patience with as it grew less and less compelling until now (after several weeks of mulling it over before writing this review) I’m struggle to find more than one good quality (The prose is wonderful.) to praise. Weird, I know. I feel the exact same way. But that is exactly where I find myself. So, as for the question of whether you should give A Crown for Cold Silver a try, all I can suggest is you read lots of reviews (both good and bad) and make an educated decision based on what you enjoy reading, because, as I type this, I have no idea if I will continue with this series or not. Take that for what it is worth.

Source: bookwraiths.com/2016/01/06/a-crown-for-cold-silver
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review 2015-01-01 14:32
Shining in Crimson (Empire of Blood #1) by Robert S. Wilson
[ { SHINING IN CRIMSON: EMPIRE OF BLOOD BOOK ONE } ] by Wilson, Robert S (AUTHOR) Oct-02-2011 [ Paperback ] - Robert S Wilson

In Wilson's dystopian world, the United States is no more and its place the American Empire rules the people.  It is a theocracy ruled over by an emperor.  The people are forced to live under strict morality laws and those who refuse to conform are sent to Necropolis the former Las Vegas and now home to a population of vampires.  Hank Evan is sent to Necropolis as punishment for procuring a prostitute and he is determined to survive somehow because he is all that his son Toby has yet.  What Hank does not realise is that surviving this night will cost him so much more than he ever imagined.

As an introduction to a trilogy, Shining in Crimson was not bad.  Wilson gave us a sense of the dystopian world and its divisions.  I would have liked to know more about how the American Empire came to be and more specifically how the truce with the vampires came into existence.  We start the novel learning that the war has now been over for 20 years and that the government uses religious propaganda to prop up its rules, along with a fear that the alternative is to become prey to the sinning vampires. 

The POV constantly changes throughout the book and though I normally find this irritating, it helped to bring the different elements of the story together.  I found it interesting to see vampires who based on their long lives understand better than the humans, exactly what the American Empire is all about.  For safety, the humans have traded their liberty.  Hank has vague memories of a time when the world was different and a father who fought and died for the United States.  He is tormented by the horrible bargain he is forced to make.  Then we have Simon a devout member of the Empire, to the point that he even thinks of his own mother as a whore, finally coming to grips with the fact that he has been sold a book of lies and finally, Ishan who is determined to hold his vampire council together and bring down the empire.

The majority of the characters in this book are male.  The only three female characters of note are Simon's mother, who viscously slut shamed.  When she is raped by Peter, Simon is horrified and yet when Peter says that you cannot rape the willing, Simon is quick to agree.  It is because of her dress and the fact that she didn't physically fight back and instead begged for her son's safety that Simon refuses to see her as the victim that she is.  It is only after gaining empathy from Ishan, that Peter begins to understand he may have potentially wronged his mother.  The second female character is the human vampire Rachel.  As with Simon's mother, she is also a rape victim.  Each day she is subject to rape and beatings by her father and her brothers, which she endures until Peter kills them.  In turn, after being judged worthy, Rachel becomes a vampire, only to rape Hank in a bid to help Peter become the leader of the vampires.  There is also Grace, the dead wife of Hank.  Years later he is still mourning her loss.  Grace is really little more than a footnote in this story. Finally, we have the Queen of the Ancients, the only ancient vampire to be sentient.  We don't really learn much about her beyond this.


As you can see, we have one female character who is promoted to obscurity and two others who largely exist as victims of sexual violence and Grace whose death provides angst for the male characters. These characters are never really developed beyond their victimhood.  Turning Rachel from victim to predator given that Simon's first reaction to Rachel is to shame her for his sexual attraction to her does not develop her whatsoever and instead is more to position Simon's frame of reference.  Shining in Crimson doesn't so much have female characters, as it does cardboard cut outs who are either fridged for male angst or victims for male judgment.

 

 

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Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2014/12/shining-in-crimson-empire-of-blood-1-by.html
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