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3.9 out of 5 stars
The Grim Company
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
...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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2014
This is shockingly bad. I'll be honest, I only got 40 pages in then the it across the living room in a rage having spent £9 on this worthless rag. It's as if a 15 year old boy has read Abercrombie and though 'I can do that'. It is incredibly immature, stupid, lazy, just awful. Luke Scull is desperately trying to emulate Abercrombie, using black humor, foul language and gore. The problem is he cannot write. The 'black humor' is totally lacking in humor, the gore is unneccesary. the plot contrived and predictable, the character unlikable, the dialogue is painful to read. I would give it 0 stars if I could. Please tear up this man's publishing deal before anyone else is fooled into wasting their money. All the 5 star reviews must have been written by children or his friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2014
Can't go wrong if you like this type of genre. Not quite up to the standard of Gemmell or Abercrombie but for a new writer I would recommend. I am likely to be getting follow up book so can't say more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2014
Swords and Sorcery, well more swords and lots of blood and guts but, good characters, nice sense of humour even an ethical thread. Easy to read and great fun, leaves one wanting the next instalment.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 March 2014
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 4 August 2013
I've been reading a lot of fantasy recently and I must admit I was quite looking forward to this book, however I found it a bit of a letdown.

My first issue is that although fantasy is often derivative I thought this book took it too far. To say it seemed to be influenced by Joe Abercrombie is an understatement. I don't normally mind that, especially in fantasy where certain themes are explored again and again, but here it seemed a bit too in your face and shameless.

Having said that the similarity to Joe Abercrombie wouldn't have mattered so much if he hadn't quickly fallen into the same hole that Joe Abercrombie fell into, namely that as his writing got darker it also lost a lot of its enjoyment. Most of Abercrombie's books got away with it though because many of his characters are quite enjoyable. That isn't really true here, with most of the main characters seeming like very very light weight copies of characters from the First Law trilogy. There's an attempt to fill them out a bit, make them less 2D and cliched and even bring in a bit of humour, but it didn't really work out too well.

In addition one complaint I have about Abercrombie's books is that the events can seem pointless as at the end of each book he rams down your throat the fact that none of what happened mattered, we're back to square one as it was all just a tiny step in the ongoing battle between the magi. I had the same feeling here, the end of the book has a whole series of back stabbings and U-turns which, while maybe realistic, would have seemed better to me as introductions to the next book.

Having said that it isn't an awful book, its just highly derivative and has most of the flaws of the work its influenced by but few of the positives. With that in mind if you haven't read Joe Abercrombie's books or like them and want to read more of the same then this is probably for you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2013
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2014
Have been looking for something new, this is pretty good read, nice flawed characters, Fun filled action scenes! Read it
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on 28 June 2015
Fantastic Debut Novel.

Really strong focus on characters which is what I personally like to read and some of the scene will have you laugh out loud, other will make you grimace and every thing else in between. I personally found Cole's chapters to be brilliant. Its fast paced, action starts from the start and he keeps the pace moving well. Recommend for anyone interested in fantasy and more so if you like it gritty.
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