The Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
|The Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood|
|Reviewer: Loralei Haylock|
|Summary: A book that will suck you into the grimy streets of 15th Century Venice and the double-crossing, back stabbing world of the Venetian Court, where more than just the darkest dregs of humanity lurk. Highly recommended fantasy reading.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: May 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
After defeating the armies that threatened Venice single handedly, the newly knighted Sir Tycho finds himself with status, wealth and the subject of much interest to the Venetian citizens. But all Tycho really wants is Lady Giulietta, niece of the city's steward. Giulietta, grieving her dead husband, is desperate to escape the backstabbing, poisonous world of the Venetian court, and isn't in the mood for Tycho's clumsy attempts to woo her.
And Venice is in a precarious position. Two powerful emperors vie for Giulietta's hand, and the alliance with Venice that would bring. But to choose one is to reject the other, and make them a powerful enemy...
I was worried I wouldn't be able to get back into this series. It's been a while since I read the first book, and I could barely remember what happened. To me, any time a book needs to preface the narrative with a character list it's a bad thing, and I wasn't holding onto much hope that I would understand what was going on.
Admittedly, it did take a little perseverance, but it wasn't long before the horribly well realised streets of 15th Century Venice swept me back into their grime, stink and debauchery, and the world became as uncomfortably familiar as it did in the first instalment.
Grimwood certainly doesn't ease up on the grisly horror of it all. Well respected characters stop to relieve themselves on the streets, and the upper class perfection clashes horribly with the poverty stricken lower classes. The contrasts and dirty secrets of the city all have the spotlight shone on them, and Grimwood teases out their details, laying everything bare for the reader.
The story is a little difficult to follow in places, with all the backstabbing and double-crossing, but it's not really in a detrimental way. It becomes a part of the immersion experience - none of the characters are 100% sure what's happening, neither is the reader, and so the intrigue and politics of court life are brought to life in a three dimensional way.
Overall, a great book that carries forward all the strengths of the previous instalment without becoming stale or repetitive. Superb fantasy reading.
My thanks to the publisher for sending a copy.
Fans of epic fantasy might enjoy A Feast for Crows by George R R Martin.
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