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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A striking and fun debut novel
Davarus Cole has a destiny. Only he can wield the sorcerous blade Magebane, one of the few weapons in existence that can kill a Magelord. Five centuries ago the Magelords slew the gods themselves, becoming immortal in the process and seizing control of the world. Now they wage war amongst themselves. Cole knows it is fate itself which has decreed that he will kill...
Published 13 months ago by A. Whitehead

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I've read this book before...
...and a lot of the names in it, too. Basically, it's a good story, a bit too tongue in cheek at times, and the characters a bit too annoying to get too invested in, as a rule. But Joe Abercrombie did the dark twist on classic high fantasy earlier and better with First Law stuff some years back, and he is getting better and better as a writer too. Then again, I suppose...
Published 11 months ago by John Middleton


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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A striking and fun debut novel, 2 Mar 2013
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grim Company (Hardcover)
Davarus Cole has a destiny. Only he can wield the sorcerous blade Magebane, one of the few weapons in existence that can kill a Magelord. Five centuries ago the Magelords slew the gods themselves, becoming immortal in the process and seizing control of the world. Now they wage war amongst themselves. Cole knows it is fate itself which has decreed that he will kill Salazar, Magelord of Dorminia, and liberate the city from his tyrannical rule. His comrades in the rebel group known as the Shards are less sure.

Meanwhile, a new threat is rising in the far north. Demonic forces are spilling into the northern mountains and the Shaman, the Magelord who rules the region, must face this threat whilst also confronting a renegade lord who has turned against him. At the same time, he owes a favour to Salazar that must be repaid.

The Grim Company is the opening volume of the fantasy trilogy of the same name. It's the debut novel by Luke Scull, a computer game designer who has worked for BioWare and Ossian Studios. It's also one of the SFF launch titles for Head of Zeus, a new publisher which won the publication rights to the novel in a significant auction.

It's easy to see why. The Grim Company is a rollicking dark fantasy adventure novel. It moves with verve and pace, fitting more plot than some entire trilogies into its lean 450 pages, and is threaded through with a great sense of humour that pokes fun at some of the conventions of both epic fantasy and the recent eruption of 'grimdark' fantasies in particular. The book packs in an impressive number of subplots, locations and characters without feeling rushed or overburdened, and manages to ensure these storylines are not extraneous material (one side-plot taking place hundreds of miles to the north in the mountains feels like pure set-up for later novels, but is linked back into the main storyline quite impressively in the climax).

Character-wise, we are in familiar archetype territory. Davarus Cole is a fine 'pratagonist', the apparent hero who's actually a barely-sufferable pillock. Cole believes it is his destiny to be awesome and free the people from tyranny, but he suffers from a blinkered view of reality and a tendency to ignore what's going on right in the moment (occasionally even during moments of high danger) as he daydreams of gaining the adoration of screaming crowds. This is frequently hilarious, but also gets close to becoming overused by the time we get to the novel's climax. Thankfully, some well-handled moments of character revelation near the end of the book show Cole to be a more sympathetic character than might have been first expected.

Brodar Kayne is the former Sword of the North, the Shaman's champion who defied his master and is now on the run, assisted by his exceedingly temperamental and borderline psychotic best friend, 'the Wolf'. Kayne is old and past his best days, but still exceedingly lethal with a greatsword. His only weakness is a sentimental streak, which leads him into a doubtful alliance with the Shards. Kayne is the 'actual hero whom Cole is trying to be' and Scull finely contrasts the differences between the two characters. There's nothing particularly new or notable about Kayne, but Scull pulls off the 'grizzled veteran with a dark past who is now trying to be a better man' trope reasonably skillfully.

Elsewhere, we have Eremul the Halfmage, a sorcerer whom Salazar spared during a purge of potential rival magic-users but still left crippled. Then there's Isaac, Eremul's apparently bumbling aide who turns out to be unexpectedly good at, well, everything. Particularly well-done is Barandas, the head of Salazar's Augmentors (magically-enhanced super-warriors), a good man serving a ruthless and amoral ruler because of his strict code of honour. There's also Sasha, another young member of the Shards who is actually good at her job and not an insufferable prat, and Yllandris, a young sorcerer and lover of the King of the Fangs who likes to think of herself as a badass witch and master manipulator but has too much of a good heart to really pull it off.

Aspects of the novel do feel somewhat familiar. The post-apocalyptic fantasy setting and the notion of a band of rebels gathering to pull down a tyrant is reminiscent of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, but The Grim Company is certainly a more striking and fun novel than The Final Empire. The Shards being a band of rogues rather than purely idealistic rebels also recalls some elements of Scott Lynch (particularly the brothers), though the story then goes off in a completely different direction. Much more notable - and probably will be mentioned in every review of the book ever - are the similarities to Joe Abercrombie. These include some of the basic archetypes (though Cole, Kayne and Eremul's similarities to Jezal, Logen and Glokta are thankfully only superficial), the similar black and self-aware humour and some the language, most notably their mutual enjoyment of the word 'fruits' as a euphemism. Indeed, if you enjoy the works of Abercrombie, I can unreservedly recommend The Grim Company with no hesitation.

For those who are less keen, Scull uses magic in a more interesting manner, and his worldbuilding craft is certainly stronger, but it's likely that if you are really not a fan of Abercrombie and the more recent similar eruption of similar fantasies, this will not do a lot to impress you. The author is certainly aware of the pool he's swimming in, and occasionally seems to lampoon it, but it's also not an outright satire of the genre and does play a lot of the tropes straight (though, refreshingly, his female characters are as well-portrayed as his male and that most overused of 'grimdark' plot devices, rape, is kept for the most part off-page, though not unmentioned).

The Grim Company (****) is an energetic and well-written dark fantasy debut. It doesn't steer far from familiar waters, but it combines standard tropes and ideas into a more than satisfying whole. The novel is available now in the UK and on import in the USA.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I've read this book before..., 30 April 2013
By 
John Middleton (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grim Company (Paperback)
...and a lot of the names in it, too. Basically, it's a good story, a bit too tongue in cheek at times, and the characters a bit too annoying to get too invested in, as a rule. But Joe Abercrombie did the dark twist on classic high fantasy earlier and better with First Law stuff some years back, and he is getting better and better as a writer too. Then again, I suppose there are only so many books Mr Abercrombie can write in a year, so to get an Abercrombie-lite version is not bad at all.

All the modern takes on classic fantasy tropes are here: the young foolish hero, the aged barbarian, the love interest with a dark past and a secret, the cripple, the surly henchman with a heart of gold. There is even a tragically noble servant of the evil tyrant who must pay the price for his misplaced loyalty, etc. I suppose there is something of the hero's journey, although not a lot of questing per se, although there is a training montage. So all the ingredients are here. But that's enough spoilers.

The Grim Company is the first in a trilogy - at least according to the back flap - and I'm interested enough to keep going. That's probably because I enjoy Joe Abercrombie's work, and this is Abercrombiesque enough. Despite the irritating pop-culture references that peek through and take you out of the story, there is at least a well-plotted tale here, and its well-written enough to hold a reader's interest (ok, mine, in any event) to the end.

If you like Joe Abercormbie, there is a good chance you will enjoy this; if you don't know who Joe Abercrombie is, go read his stuff first, and (if you like it) when you are done with that, try Luke Scull's Grim Company.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not world shattering, 4 Mar 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grim Company (Hardcover)
To be honest I'm a fantasy fan, have been for years but when a new guy comes on the scene you have to give them a go but hope that they meet up to not only your expectations but also give the reader something that isn't just the old stereotypes that too many others have come to assume its all about.

What this book from Luke brings to the fore is a story with adventure, some nods to those who have gone before and also brings his own storytelling to the mix. It isn't anything world shattering, it isn't something that stands out from the crowd, but for a debut it's a solid enough start with just enough world building to make sure that it all functions.

Add to this characters that whilst stereotypical to a certain degree, bring life as well as some antihero twists to the mix, all round make this a solid enough story to just sit back and relax with. I'll definitely look at future offerings from Luke and look forward to seeing what he'll bring to the fore next time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun - read it straight through., 30 Dec 2013
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Really enjoyed this and will definitely be getting the next one. Plenty of surprises in the plot and the character development. There's no fat in Scull's writing - I often find I want to skip a few paragraphs if an author goes into waffle mode and there was none of that here. I found all the characters interesting and several really grew on me. As an added bonus, there are some genuine laugh out loud one liners and conversations in there. A great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My first read of Luke Skull - great start., 3 Dec 2013
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I was looking for a new author in the genre, and as I was coming from Erikson et al it needed to be good. This was an excellent start for me, good story, excellent characterisation, and a good description of a new world (for me) with new and interesting rules. I have now bought the second book and hope it continues in the same vein.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut, 6 Mar 2013
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grim Company (Hardcover)
First a quick message to my amazon troll ... Be a grown up and leave a comment if your going to click no... It's trolls who hit no for no decent reason who ruin reviewing on here with their cowardly hide in the dark attitude!

Now back to the review

This review is from: The Grim Company (Hardcover)
I feel privileged to have been asked to read this book ahead of publication (so thank you Head of Zeus). 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.
For me personally, the writing spoke straight to me and the type of book i love, it had a witty, slightly sarcastic edge that gave it a realism so lacking in many books. It very much came across as the fantasy version of Anthony Riches (this is a huge compliment in case you have not read Tony's books). Luke Scull could very well be the new David Gemmell of fantasy for me, (again a high compliment as Gemmell for me is the pinnacle of fantasy writing, and characters). Its not the world thats the driver, its the amazing characters and the realism they give the book.
Are there any flaws? Yes like any fantasy novel you will draw comparisons with other older work. EG: Kane the Highlander is ... Well if Druss the legend is Gemmells Flawed Hero (he is a PG rated hero), where Kane is Luke Sculls Druss but at an 18 certificate.
Do these flaws diminish the book? no not at all. The book is 450ish pages and i read it so fast, i read it again and enjoyed it more the second time. My biggest gripe is the year i will have to wait for book 2.
So what are you getting with The Grim Company?
Flawed Hero's
A youths rite of passage to maturity... and not in the way he wanted
Some hard bitten, world weary Highlanders... men you should not underestimate or cross.
Mages with god like powers
Demonic twisted creatures
mysterious enemies
Assassins
mercs
and so much more.
Any book with this much packed in must be a winner and for me it was.
Its only Jan but this is my favourite fantasy so far this year... and i think it will be very very hard to beat. Luke Scull and Head of Zeus have a massive winner here.
rating: Amazon 5*
(Parm)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fun "grimdark" debut, 8 April 2013
By 
Neil J. Pearson (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This was an absolute bargain (in ebook format) and the author's unashamed admission of writing "grimdark" had me checking it out. I'm quite pleased that I did. I'm sure the author is sick of hearing the comparison but it has a very strong "Joe Abercrombie" feel about it in terms of humour and characters. Some characters even feel a bit too similar as there's a Northern Barbarian, a cocky upstart and a cynical cripple. Fortunately these characters come into their own and the cocky upstart, Davarus Cole, turns out to be a hilarious protagonist. Towards the end of the book I also found myself caring about the fates of some of the other characters (The Wolf and Barandas) and it's always a sign of good characterisation when you start to care. One thing that sets this book apart from Abercrombie is that the world is a lot more magical with sorcerers, demons, magical weapons and deicide. This rich world suggests there are more stories to be mined in future installments. It's not a perfect book but it settles into an enjoyable groove in the last third of the book with its abundance of action and twisting revelations left me wanting more. Definitely worth a look at the current ebook price and I suspect future installments will improve upon this debut.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Story good, 10 Aug 2013
Book is very slow though quite enjoyable a book that you use for travel ling
Story is about a young man Cole who believes he is a hero you meet other characters along the way my fav is Jared and wolf if there is a book 2 may get to see what happens to these two
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good start to something that could be great, 23 July 2013
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I want to give this book more than 3 stars but some things held it back for me. Some of the characters in this book were a bit poor in my opinion. Cole and Sasha in particular stand out as characters that apparently have a lot to them (and certain events definitely suggest there is more to come from them) but I really think more should have been done with them in this book to make me care more about them. Everytime a scenario was presented from their perspective I immediately wanted it to switch back to someone else. In particular, Brodar Kayne and his comrade in arms, Jerek The Wolf. Those two characters were worth the read and more time should have been spent with them. Just make the other characters as interesting as those two and we have a decent series on our hand!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining, if flawed, debut., 27 Mar 2013
By 
Allan Wells "The rusty dog inn" (Annan , Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Well........

I finished it today, and largely enjoyed it. The author has a real talent for world building and created some very likeable characters (even if they were picked up right out of the bold old book of fantasy tropes) and managed to throw in some genuine humour amongst the standard grimdark setting.

The parallels with Abercrombie are obvious, and it's difficult not to see a lot of Abercrombie's characters in the Grim Company , not that this is a bad thing, the author - I believe - doesn't like the comparisons being drawn , though I'm sure there are worse authors he could be compared too.

The book does have some weak points, I felt there was a lot of info-dump in the first 50 pages, mostly in awkward dialogue sections (the dialogue in general was poor early in the book, but improved dramatically towards the end) and the characters were standard fantasy archetypes with standard tropey backgrounds. I was also a little disappointed with the ending, though this is entirely subjective.

Despite all that Scull manages to manges to make the book enjoyable in spite of its flaws,the pacing is perfect and he has formed an intriguing world with an interesting magic system , and ultimately left me wanting to read book 2 as soon as is possible ( the manuscript is due in July). The author does a lot right here, and seems to have an understanding of what is enjoyable and fun in the genre and should be applauded for a highly entertaining début.

7.75/10
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The Grim Company
The Grim Company by Luke Scull (Hardcover - 1 Mar 2013)
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