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36 of 39 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 18 months ago by A. Whitehead

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14 of 16 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 16 months ago by John Middleton


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36 of 39 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant debut novel!, 14 Mar 2014
This review is from: The Grim Company (Paperback)
As soon as I read the write up for this book I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to like it and I was so right. High Fantasy is my favourite kind of book as the worlds are always so very different to our own and my imagination loves to create these foreign worlds in my head!

Luke Scull is a new author to the fantasy scene but he is someone I am going to be watching VERY closely indeed. There are already some amazing fantasy authors out their so anyone new has a lot to live up to to be in the same ball-park as them but I think Luke Scull has the potential to join the ranks. His debut novel is seriously good, so gritty but very believable within the world he creates and the world-building is excellent. The backstory of the tale has been well thought out and is is what gives the book the potential it has, it's only mentioned in the beginning as a minor prologue of a sorts but as the book progresses you get more of a feel of the event itself and hopefully the back-story with continue to grow with each new book.

Basically what happened is that the world was 'ruled' by the Gods until a groups of wizard made the fateful decision to challenge the Gods and to try and take them down. Against all odds they succeeded in murdering the Gods and despite grave losses, each of the surviving wizards became a Magelord and became the new ruling factions, each Magelord having a 'realm of their own' and each having there own armies fronted by the Augmentors, the only people in the world permitted to have and use magic besides the Magelords. Unfortunately with the death of the Gods, it also began the death of magic itself with magic disappearing and the Magelords finding they have to top themselves up by using the remaining magic that are emanating from the corpses of the Gods. There is a constant battle for power among the Magelords themselves along with the constant battle for magical resources and territory too. This fighting between the Magelords has obvious consequences for the ordinary people who live around them and in Dorminia, where most of the action in this book takes place, it's the people that are suffering from the consequences of their Magelord's (Salazar) actions. Life is not good and is a struggle for most, and it's here we meet some of the most interesting characters in The Grim Company.

Luke Scull's characterisation is very strong with each character (and there are many) having a character all of their own, each has a very distinct voice and each brings a new facet to the book. My favourite was the fabulous Davarus Cole, one of the younger character but he's my favourite kind of character, he's the young man with a hard background and an orphan, who's a bit naughty but despite the fact that ultimately he needs to become a killer he's still very likeable, even loveable. He believes himself to be a born leader, like his father and he truly believes that he has a higher destiny to fulfil and will do whatever it takes to find it and complete it. Another stand out character for me was the 'barbarian' highlander Brodar Kane, along with his companion Jerek (The Wolf). This guy is 'grizzled', he is much older than Cole and he's hard, strong but with heart and a wealth of experience behind him and his background is very interesting indeed, he was his Magelord's (The Shaman who rules the North, the High Fangs) right hand man as The Sword Of The North until events led to him abandoning his Magelord and his own family and going on the run. The final stand-out character for me was 'The Halfmage' Eremul, called Halfmage as Salazar, while leaving Eremul with his magic for what it's worth as it isn't strong at all he 'handicapped' him by removing his legs hence the title of Halfmage. This is man who is full of hatred for his Magelord but he cannot show it without losing his life and he wants to keep that at all costs. His intentions are cloudy throughout the books and I found that aspect of him to be very interesting indeed.

I couldn't really find many flaws in the book at all apart from one little niggle, and that's the White Lady (another Magelord). She is described as being beautiful, having long silver blonde hair and eyes of a violet hue...... sounds remarkably like a certain 'Mother of Dragons' doesn't it? The other niggle is the demons, where they come from and why but I suspect we may hear more on that subject in the new book. I didn't really understand the hows ans whys of them at all apart from the fact that the highlanders are having to battle them constantly just to stay alive. I think this could be a interesting aspect to the tale in the future, I mean who doesn't love a few deadly demons!

All in all I found this book to very enjoyable to read, the language isn't overly verbose which means that you're not looking up odd words up every five minutes and he uses wording that is easy to read and understand without having to think about it too much. The action is intense and gripping and holds you all the way through the book whether it's a battle or a ordinary conversation. If you don't like reading books with heavy swearing in ti then this probably isn't the book for you, which would be a shame as despite the bad language throughout the books is a gem of a debut. Luke Scull has a talent that I am very interesting in reading more of and if the next books in the series, The Sword Of The North, is anything like this one then this series is going to be an amazing indeed and one that I will will be avidly reading, and re-reading!

This book may be a big one in pages but it's even bigger in vivid descriptive storytelling and worth every page that is written! I loved it and would recommend it to fantasy fans in a heartbeat.
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14 of 16 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, 10 Aug 2014
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t is a fantasy novel with mages, magically enhanced warriors, rebels, mentions of gods and a few other messed up characters.

When I say 'messed up' I mean in the terms of their lives. Each one is written perfectly, with some of them you can probably pin the name of someone you know (but sometimes wish you didn't) against one or two of them.

I mentioned mages, and Luke has built a solid magic system which, I believe we'll learn more about in the later books, but it does not dominate the story line at all. It definitely does its job and enhances it.

When it comes to world building and the imagery, he has certainly done a fantastic job. His writing is clear and he's got the ability to allow you to form the world he has created in your minds eye with ease, from the Obelisk to the High Fangs and the people and creatures you meet in between.

Overall, to me, Luke Scull's writing flows perfectly and is great to read, I was towards the end of the book before I even realised it. His follow up, Sword of the North is definitely on my 'to read' list.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty but with a good sense of humour to balance it out, 17 Mar 2014
By 
N. Fallon (Northants, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grim Company (Hardcover)
I would like to acknowledge that I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the author, Luke Scull, via Goodreads in return for an honest review. I personally rely on reviews of books before trying them and so my reviews are genuine.

The Grim Company is the 1st book in the Grim Company Series by Luke Scull. The series is set in a world where originally well-meaning magelords have slain the gods and ended up becoming tyrants themselves.

Other people have written more comprehensive descriptions of the storyline but I'm going to concentrate on why I enjoyed the book. There are multiple storylines going on under 1 main thread with many varied characters. The good guys are not always good and the bad guys are not necessarily evil. Sometimes bad things just happen to good people and vice versa. This book is more gritty than I would normally enjoy reading but it is balanced with a dark sense of humour at characters who could otherwise take themselves too seriously.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Sword of the North.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not "bad" but not original and predictable..., 7 Mar 2014
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
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Despite not having enjoyed this book as much as I wanted to, and being a bit disappointed as a result, this is not a “bad” first novel. There are number of interesting features in it, to which I will come back further on in this review. However, there are also three main elements which, when considered together, help explain my relative disappointment.

The first is a lack of originality. Other reviewers have already mentioned a number of similarities with Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy or with Glen Cook’s Black Company series. Some of the features selected by Luke Scull for his book also seem to have been borrowed from David Gemmel’s Rigante tales, such as the highlander with the double handed sword. Other features reminded me of Richard Morgan’s “The Steel Remains” and “The Cold Commands”, such as the introduction of mysterious and powerful aliens in his fantasy world that seem to have vanished from the face of the earth but are in fact not so remote. I could go on, and on for quite a bit but you certainly get the point and there is no need to risk spoiling the story.

A second problem was that I found the story rather predictable at times, and somewhat lacking tension and suspense. It is, for instance, rather obvious that the two highlanders will pull through despite the odds they face when fighting “Augmentors” – a mix between elite warriors and special police force and equipped with various magical devices.

Then there are the characters, some of which were not quite credible. This is for instance the case of Kayne, the former “Sword of the North”, which the author keeps describing as past his prime (he is over fifty), tired, worn out and lacking stamina, but who somehow manages to best everything that is thrown at him. There is also his moody companion Jerek, who gets into a tizzy rather too easily and seem ready to slit anyone and everyone’s throat on the slightest provocation. Finally, there is the young, delusional and insufferable “anti-hero” Cole, who believes he has a grand destiny to fulfil and learns, too late, the truth about his origins. Again, none of these characters are exactly “badly” drawn or two dimensional. It is just that, in various ways, they seem a bit too excessive to be believable.

Having mentioned these elements, the book also has some very interesting and rather good features, particularly when it comes to “world-building”, as at least another reviewer has also mentioned. I rather liked the idea that the semi-devastated and declining continent when the action takes place is the result of a long war against the ancient Gods that the Mage Lords finally won some five hundred years before. They killed the Old Gods whose dwindling substance is still used as a source of magic – the description of one of the battles opposing one of the Gods against the Mage Lords is particularly good. They became immortal in the process and shared the continent between themselves, or rather between the Mage Lords that had survived.

I rather liked the character of Salazar (the name might not be an entire coincidence), the Tyrant of Dorminia. It is through him that we learn that the Mage Lords, initially the most gifted among the Mages, rose in revolt to defend themselves against the old religions when these tried to exterminate them. They then became themselves ruthless, oppressive and cruel tyrants in their respective realms, waging war against each other and, in the case of Salazar, destroying all the other mage living in his realm. While this parable of the one-time victorious and idealistic revolutionary turned paranoid tyrant over time is not exactly original either, it is rather well presented, and one of the better features of the book.

Added to this are glimpses of the rest of the world, which we will no doubt get to know more about in the two other volumes of the trilogy. One is the Unclaimed Lands, where an alliance of Mages seems to rule. Another is a place far in the north from where rather terrifying monsters seem to originate in growing numbers and threaten the Shaman - another Mage Lord, with his rather fascinating hybrid monsters - and his community of subject Highlanders. A third is the mysterious Fade, a race that has vanished from the continent, leaving the ruins of an impressive city behind it.

All in all, this was an interesting read, even if not quite an exciting or a fascinating one, and I will certainly read the second volume when it is published in the hope that it is better than this one. Three stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark 'n Gritty, 15 Feb 2014
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It is a dark and gritty tale. The world building is excellent and I enjoyed the set up of the Magelords and the war against the Gods. The characters are well drawn though I did wonder, as I read, why the 'hero' shifted from one person to another as the book progressed. This was perhaps clever plotting, bearing mind the ending and the set up for book two, or the realisation that the original hero wasn't that likeable and heroic. I am choosing to believe it was the former of the two - the book is too well written and engrossing for it to be the latter.
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch gritty fantasy, 20 Feb 2013
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There are a few fantasy tropes here (lets face it all fantasy is awash with tropes galore) but it's done with wit and flair so you forgive Luke.

The stand out thing for me are the fight scenes Joe Abercrombie writes a brilliant fight scene and Luke comes close. They are visceral & exciting.

Be warned it does end on a helluva cliffhanger so you will be buying the full book
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Any book with this much packed in must be a winner, 19 Feb 2013
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
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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*

Very Highly Recomended
(Parm)

Also: a competition to win a money cant buy prize related to the book
I cannot post the link, but click onmmy profile link and go to my blog for details.
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The Grim Company by Luke Scull (Hardcover - 1 Mar 2013)
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