The difference between a hero and a killer lies in the ability to justify dark deeds. But this is the Age of Ruin. And there are no heroes...
Five hundred years ago, the world was destroyed in the celestial Godswar. Seeking to throw off the shackles of the deities who created them, a cabal of mages rose up and made war upon the Gods. Though they won out, it was at a great cost: the ensuing cataclysm brought forth the Age of Ruin to the world.
Five hundred years later, the world limps on, seemingly winding down to an inevitable end. Dystopian city states have arisen, each presided over by one of the Magelords who first made war.
Corrupted, near-immortal, and far too powerful, those wizards who once sought to free the world now make war upon each other, while the helpless populace limp on from day to day.
Into this blighted world, steps Davarus Cole, a boy obsessed with notions of heroism and adventuring, who burns to do great deeds. One night, in a reckless act, Cole gets himself into a brawl with the authories. He quickly finds himself sent away from the city, where the world still groans from the ancient cataclysm, and the corpses of Gods lie deep beneath the bedrock, leaking wild, uncontrolled magic into the world.
Luke Scull lives in Warminster in the UK, and is lead game-designer at Ossian Studios, developers of computer role-playing game, The Shadow Sun. Luke began his career as a hobbyist game designer, being headhunted by Bioware when one of his mods for their game, Neverwinter Nights, became a hit in the online community. Since then he has worked as designer on the Neverwinter expansion, Mysteries of Westgate, and an unreleased expansion for The Witcher role-playing game. The anti-heroic The Grim Company is Luke's debut fantasy novel.
©2013 Luke Scull (P)2013 Audible Ltd
"Luke Scull looks to be a writer who will hit the fantasy Genre like an augmented Hammer. His writing is compelling, exciting and engaging, it drags you off to experience life in the city of Dorminia in very short order." (Robin Carter at Parmenion Books)
"His book is amazing, wonderful, compelling, exciting, sarcastic and magical. His writing and style will drag you into the story and make you feel like you are living in Dorminia. There are far too few words in this post to explain you how amazed I was with this work." (Maja Majdak at Booktoreview)
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"Bland and uninspiring... a resounding "meh!""
I picked it up because all reviews rave about how Luke Scull is the "new Abercrombie"... and I thoroughly disagree!
I mean, sure, it's gritty, dark fantasy with some political intrigue and some not-entirely-unexpected plot twists, but the similarities end there for me:
1. Writing style: I cringed at all the clumsily presented exposition: do characters really need to flap their mouths all the time telling each other stories and plot elements that they should all be familiar with, just because the author didn't find any more inventive way of informing the reader? (also, do we really need a painstaking physical description of every character as they enter the scene? HINT: no). Dialogue in general feels forced and unnatural, again more like the author talking to the reader than the characters talking among themselves.
Also, the characters' vocabulary is all over the place, switching from low-class to high-brow with no sense of continuity; thesaurus abuse is also evident in the use of "erudite" words such as "coruscation".
2. Characterization: I guess the author tried to break some clichés, but in my opinion tried too hard... the characters feel more like a collection of quirks with a backstory than actual living beings, and their reactions to events feel awkward and forced, as if you could see the Plot holding every character's strings and forcing them forward (the ridiculous battle and ensuing dialogue with the Shaman at the end of the book comes to mind).
3. World-building: nothing earth-shatteringly new in the setting (mage wars, magic fading away, ancient evils emerging...), so I will simply give this a pass and see what the author comes up with to tighten it up in the future.
Finally, about the voice acting:
I had quite liked Joe Jameson' interpretation of "Prince of Thorns" by Mark Lawrence, and I was expecting more of the same; instead, I found the delivery quite stilted and weak, and the voices unsuited to the characters at times (especially women).
"If you're a "GrimDark" fan..."
I'm 60% through this and loving it so far - deceptively simple cast of characters turn out to have much deeper sides to their nature with back-stories to match, plus a non-stop plot that pulls you along from one exciting set-piece to the next. What's not to like? It's been said before I know (sorry Luke!) but if you like the Joe Abercrombie style of fantasy you won't go wrong with this. It's maybe not as polished as Joe's work has now become but it's a fine start. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
BTW Very well read by Joe Jameson - I'd not heard his narration before but I'm impressed. Bodes well for the Mark Lawrence titles I have cued up to hear next.
"Like Game Of Thrones But With A Lot More Laughs"
Set in a world in which the gods have been murdered by a cartel of magicians who have since fallen out and now compete for dominion, The Grim Company is a multi-viewpoint fantasy with some distinctly original touches (for example, the decaying bodies of the gods are responsible for freaks of the climate), plenty of graphic violence and a dark but contagious sense of humour. Its central characters, deeply flawed and often thoroughly misanthropic, are boldly drawn and quickly take hold of the imagination of the reader. The result is a compelling piece of storytelling that keeps you listening until the last sentence. A bit like A Game Of Thrones but with a lot more laughs.
AWFULL. Gave up reading this book, something almost unheard of for me. Grusome imagery but slow, pointless story to the point I abandoned it.
"Fantasy fictions best kept secret!!"
I stumbled across this book by accident and having never heard of the author I didnt expect much! Im now happpy to say I was very wrong!
Luke Scull had me gripped by the first chapter as he builds a world full of ruthless wizards and barbaric anti-heroes that you cant help but love. In that regard it reminded me alot of Joe Abercrombie's Blade Itself.
The narrator does a five star job of bringing the story to life. Each characters voice is very distinct and brings to the fore their personality as the author intend it.
Its very rare to find a hidden gem such as this so it makes it all the more enjoyable when you do.
"not a bad yarn"
atypical hero's mixed with obvious ones. a world with a lot of back story and lots of baddies. it read to me like a young adult romp, but with swearing and drug use thrown in to make it more grown up. that said, I really enjoyed each storyline and wanted to find out what happened to each character, and the most obvious hero of all, the sword of the north was bloody good fun! I picture him as a dolf lundgren type, only with more soul. am going straight onto book 2 on my kindle and will be waiting for book three to see where this ends up, although I wouldn't be surprised to see this world occupy another 20 books, there are enough threads to it.
"A great start to a new epic"
After recently completing the Mistborn series and reading the Patrick Rothfuss Kvothe novels I was on the lookout for a new piece of epic fantasy to get started on. This book did not disappoint, after a few chapters in I was thoroughly hooked. It is a book full of un-likeable characters in a world which seems to have brought upon it itself everything it deserves. It is only as you progress through the novel you realise that the complete annihilation of everything may be exactly what is at stake. I cannot wait for the sequel to find out what will become of Dorminia
"Uninspiring teen fantasy"
I picked this up following many rave reviews of the book, but could not relate to it.
Its certainly a dark, gritty sword&sorcery epic with mean mages but, in my view, adds nothing to the adult genre. It may work better as a teen piece
No! The book has attracted some good reviews but for me its the weakest attempt at an s&s epic that I have read for a long time
Possibly. On this occasion I found his voice acting to be rather stilted. I found it difficult to connect the voices to characters, particularly women
For me the writing style was slow and stilted and the characters simplistic and juvenile. I thought the world building was better but certainly not enough to redeem the rest
Its been said before many times, but yet again seems appropriate "meh!"
"You can't hide TH Fronting"
No, this is my second try and While I was hooked on the story the reader repeatedly TH Fronts, that is he turns brothers into bruvvers and ruthless men into roofless men and it makes me unhappy. More so because he's not a bad reader but if this is his job he should not speak like that
The half Mage, he's morally ambiguous and I love his self doubt
I would not, this will be a problem if he records Sword of the North or Sword of the Norff as he might have it
Yes apart from the reader, I wanted to throttle him in one sitting
"Not quite like Abercrombie as I was hoping for"
Story – 3.5/5
The story is quite entertaining – it is action packed and full of casual brutality like any decent grim fantasy should be. The battle at the very end is what fully redeemed this from just getting a mediocre review. It was extremely epic, and described well which kept me hooked long after I was supposed to switch it off and do other stuff.
The main issue with this story is the characterisation. You can definitely tell that Luke Scull is a computer game writer, where characterisation is less of an issue as long as the action (and the gameplay of that action) is done quite well. It wasn’t completely amiss; I just didn’t finding myself caring enough about any of the characters so the twists and turns (which were also plentiful near the end) didn’t have anywhere near the impact they could have.
The plot is quite good, but is nothing new and innovative. The story felt like it borrowed a lot of ideas from other writers such as Abercrombie, Sanderson and Lawrence. I started getting a better feel of Scull’s own ideas towards the end in the final battle, so I hope he uses this side more in future novels.
It was a good enough debut that I will purchase future books by Luke Scull, especially as most authors improve following the criticisms of their first novel.
Performance – 4.5/5
As with the Broken Empire trilogy, Joe Jameson was excellent. Each character had a distinctive voice (there were plenty to do), and the action was narrated in a way to add to the excitement. Joe Jameson gets better and better the more that I listen to him.
Overall – 4/5
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