Series: The Copper Promise #3
Release date: 25th February 2016
This edition: NetGalley ARC
Note: This review may contain general spoilers for the previous books in this trilogy.
Tales of the Black Feather Three and their exploits abound far and wide, and Wydrin of Crosshaven, Lord Aaron Frith and Sir Sebastian have become sell swords in demand. Having foiled powerful mages and evil magic, they now face a challenge unlike any before – in the form of Wydrin’s mother.
Devinia the Red, notorious pirate and captain of the Poison Chalice, is intent on finding the fabled treasure hidden within the jungles of the cursed island of Euriale. She needs the skills of her daughter Wydrin and her companions to get there, and our heroes cannot resist the lure of coin and adventure. But no explorer has returned from the heart of the island, and it’s not long before the Three find themselves in the clutches of peril. Deep within the island of the gods, there are remnants of forces best left undisturbed…
So it’s time to say goodbye to this amazing trilogy. I DON’T WANT TO.
Epic fantasy adventure novels are not exactly uncommon, and given the sheer amount of tropes inherent in them you might think it’d be a tough call to really put a fresh spin on them – but this is exactly what Jen Williams has done with her debut trilogy. If anything has been proved over the course of these awesomely fun books, it’s that a) she knows her way around a spectacle, and b) she’s got the character skills to boot. Both of these factors combined give us a story that’s true in every way to the spirit of epic adventure, while giving us something that’s right up to date at the same time.
When this book begins, the Black Feather Three – Wydrin, Frith and Sebastian – are struggling to keep their not-so-merry band together. Wydrin and Frith are still together (though there are rocks ahead in those waters, because of course). Sebastian, though, is clearly not coping too well with all that he’s gone through thus far. Further division is in the cards, as is the biggest threat these three unlikely heroes have faced yet. Because it’s the trilogy finale, don’t you know. Everything has to be bigger and badder – and in delightfully typical form, Williams seems to have taken this rule quite literally!
In retrospect, now that I can look back over this story as a whole, what I like best about it (aside from all the peril and dragons and ‘splodey magic) is that I’m still hard-pressed to choose a favourite character. However problematic their journey together has been, this trio works best when taken together. There’s Aaron Frith, who began as a proud, angry nobleman on a quest for revenge and a huge blind spot where his compassion – and common sense – ought to have been, and has grown into a powerful mage, a gentler man, and a character just conflicted enough to remain interesting to the end. And there’s Sebastian Carverson, disgraced knight and lonely soul, questioning his own humanity and worth in ways that, thankfully, have nothing to do with the fact that he’s a gay character in a prominent role in an epic fantasy story.
See what the author did there?
And then there’s Wydrin. The Copper Cat of Crosshaven, who has spent all of three wonderful books drinking, swearing, stealing, fighting, and surviving with a style that’s entirely true to her moniker. I love her, and would do so even if she was the sole star of this story – but if that was the case, something would be missing from it. As it is, she has the ideal fellows in this adventure, and certain life lessons have gotten through even Wydrin’s thick skull by the end.
That’s the key to it all, for me. None of these characters are left unchanged by their ordeals here; if they were, if this was any more of an “old school” fantasy, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much as I have. I came for the swords and sorcery (and the dragons, Jesus, don’t forget the dragons), but I’ve stayed for the Black Feather Three.
I don’t know what else I can say here that isn’t just wild, excited flailing and possibly tears. I’ve loved every minute of this story, and it’s one I’m going to fiercely miss now that it’s over – but then, that’s what rereads are for…