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on 21 January 2016
Not your typical fantasy story! There's gods and magic and a quest, but...whoo-ee. Let's add a zombie, comments on the nature of individuality and self, a variety of powers and motives, a Knight who's struggling with a lot of demons (some old, some new), a thief who's snarky, chatty and fun, and a git with a revenge motive that's entirely cliche but never gets in the way. Then throw in a fast-paced plot and excellent writing, and you might get why I enjoyed this book so much!
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on 16 June 2017
Loved the story and characters. Once i skipped the graphic torture scenes in the first chapter, which nearly made me throw the book away before i really got into the story Be warned, there are some really gruesome bits, which i could have done without.
However a fresh and beautifully written book. The very personable stars, the Copper Cat; a naughty and madcap girl, the strong solemn knight and the intense clever mage-in-the-making will fall into your hearts and you will care for them and enjoy every minute of their story.
One star off for the graphic horrible-ness.
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on 18 August 2015
This is a collection of four novellas put together as a novel. I hadn't realised that when i began reading and thought the complete thing a little disjointed, but that explains why. Interesting characters and premise and I will read the next one.
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on 28 December 2011
There is, in my mind, something of a bit of a kind of a stigma regarding the world of self-publishing. I don't tend to hold a lot of faith in it.

Sure there are good writers getting stuff out there but unless someone points me in their direction then I generally wouldn't risk it.
My reticence is waning however as it's becoming more apparent that works that are out there are done as thoroughly proper as is possible with beta readers, proof readers, endless editing and fine tuning and suchlike and so forth and this, The Copper Promise, is one of those polished nuggets.

It's a fast-paced fantasy, and I will use the word "romp" here, romp that is a commuters dream read (apart from those horrible moments when you miss your stop because you're thoroughly engrossed in the action that is burning into your senses).
I'm a big admirer of long, drawn-out, epic fantasy epic saga epics that take a million pages just to describe the layout of a village that ends up being destroyed anyway by a grumpy dragon or evil mage or some such miserable nemesis or other but sometimes you don't know what you want until you see it.
Copper Promise is a tight, fast and yet somehow intricate tale that is begging for someone to yell "MOVIE RIGHTS!" and I flippin' loved it.

I can't wait for the next part and that's a solid gold fact on a raft of platinum on a sea of diamonds.
With deft skill Jennifer has created a world and politics and characters that are real from the moment you first encounter them.

If you know Jennifer then I think it's your duty to lock her in a room and feed her sweets and wine until she's finished the story. At least say that you will; actually doing it might be a little on the illegal side.
Buy it, I flippin' dare you.

Also... I think I have something of a slight crush on Wydrin.
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on 1 February 2016
From the moment I read the description for this book I was hooked, little did I know that inside the cover would I discover what would become my all-time favourite female fantasy character.

All to often female characters are written as sexpots, they may be given strengths and balls but with that they are either made irresistibly sexy or butt ugly as though being normal, charming, funny isn’t possible the way it is for male characters. Wydrin of Crosshaven is my idea of a perfect character, she’s quirky, funny, sarcastic, very much a tomboy and best of all she’s not a sexpot character who uses her sexuality to get by, no she uses her swords and kicks ass!

The Copper Promise is a wonderful fantasy novel, it starts with a small adventure which introduces us to each character in turn, their personality, their quirks, their skill sets. We are introduced to different types of monsters from the outset and mysteries are thrown up straight away leaving us wondering if this is a treasure hunt, a monster hunt, or something far more sinister.

As the story unfolds we meet gods, demons, mages, a dragon, and armies and travel a world with this cast of adventurers literally not knowing how or when this story will end, who will live or who will die.

Jen Williams has created a fascinating world here and has paced this story perfectly, her descriptions of everything from characters to battle-scenes leave a crystal clear picture in your head as you read of how everything looks, how it smells, even feels.

By the end of the book I felt like one of the gang, as though I had been through every battle physically and emotionally. This is by far one of the best novels I have picked up in a very long time!
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The Copper Promise is a highly accomplished début by a fresh new voice. Jen Williams managed to evoke the excitement I found in the best Dungeon and Dragons sessions I played in, whilst delivering a a cast a great characters and a compelling plot.

The book is broken into distinct sections, the first of which is pure dungeon crawl. A legendary citadel, filled with fabled treasure. Three mercenaries want to break in and plunder its depths. Impatience and arrogance split the party (fools!) from the outset and the predictable disaster ensues. Another member joins the adventure - the cantankerous Lord Frith, a crippled noble deposed from his seat and tortured in the process. His bitterness and desire for revenge drive much of the novel's plot. In seeking the treasure the three unleash an ancient evil and the rest of the novel sees them trying to put it back in the box.

The three central characters are what hold The Copper Promise together. Fallen knight Sebastian and fellow mercenary Wydrin, who has a fast sword and quicker tongue, are a great partnership. Frith, their single-minded and aloof employer makes a great foil for the pair and the triumvirate form a strong nucleus around which Williams constructs her story. The secondary characters are strong too, bolstered by Williams' strong ear for dialogue (if an ear can be strong). The surrounding plot is packed full of ideas. Demons, magic and hidden gods. Conflicted knights, the walking dead and a wonderfully realised reptilian brood army.

The depiction of the serpent brood, the demon 'Prince of Wounds' and the subtle way in which these two get under the skin of fallen knight Sebastian are pitch perfect. The internal conflict within Sebastian is a contest more interesting than the plight to save the world. It gives rise to some of the finest character writing I've seen in fantasy fiction.

I loved this aspect of the plot so much it almost made the overreaching story arc of the destruction of the world seem superfluous. The ravaging of the landscape by the central villain feels heavy handed; like a sledgehammer compared with what has come before. The last section, where the ultimate bad guy is confronted, reads like a bolt on. Things certainly seem wrapped up in haste. I have to wonder whether it would have been better to do away with the central villain altogether. Apart from some great thrills and spills, I'm not sure it improved the book.

But then, who cares? As a reviewer one can sometimes be guilty of finding fault for the sake of it. This is a fine novel that I enjoyed from first page to last. The characterisation is second to none, and there are some great new innovations and interesting reworkings of old tropes. I particularly liked the way magic works. The novel stands in its own right, which is always good, yet there is plenty of scope for more stories. With her three central characters Jen Williams has created something special. I can envisage reading tale after tale that featured them without ever getting tired. This book may have been based on the promise of copper but it delivers gold.
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on 18 May 2017
A group of adventurers meet in a pub ready for yet another adventurer on the dime of a really irritating nobleman -- an adventure that quickly leads to resurrecting an evil dragon god and her army of lizard women, bringing magic back to the world and giving it to the most pompous man possible, and making ill-advised deals with demons.

On the surface, THE COPPER PROMISE is a straight-up classic sword and sorcery, but with its heavy emotional hits, quick wit, and excellent backstory, it delivers so much more.

And, of course, there will never be anything so strange or so pure as a bunch of lawful evil lizard women learning what it is to be human.

Summary

Writing: Quick, sharp, delightful

Plot: Somehow both classic and completely fresh

Feels: Who knew a bunch of mercenaries and monsters could be such cinnamon rolls?
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on 24 February 2016
This book is magical! I love Wydrin, her philosophy on life is awesome - and she unashamedly vibrant. To begin with, Frith is such a self centered a-hole, what a douche! Then there's Sebastian. So earnest, so well meaning. But what Gullibility! Seriously Sebastian? Wow!

Then of course there's a ruddy great big Dragon! Brilliant!

The pacing of the book feels episodic, but that's probably because it was originally published as several novellas. I love novellas! I think one of the reasons I loved the Copper Promise so much was that the characters seemed so much like real people because they had flaws!

[Side-note: by the end of the book, Frith becomes less of an a-hole (slightly) towards the end, Sebastian redeems himself and flirts with an attractive man (I KNOW!) and Wydrin remains the same - but levels up in glorious awesomeness!

You should read this book if you're Human!
You should read this book if you're a Dragon-spawned brood warrior!
You should read this book if you're a forgotten God in hiding!
You should read this book if you're none of the above!
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on 19 March 2015
The Copper Promise is a breath of fresh air in the often stuffy world of epic fantasy. Perhaps that’s because it is better described as heroic fantasy. The worldbuilding is on the light side and, granted, that may deter more nerdy types, but Williams offers just the right amount of setting against which to play out her story. And it’s a brilliant story, led by three distinct characters.

Wydrin is an audacious sell-sword and a thoroughly modern woman. Sir Sebastian carries the intriguing title of disgraced knight (think Sturm from Dragonlance with more grit and a far more precarious preoccupation with honour). And then we have Lord Frith, a young, anguished ‘princeling’ (in Wydrin’s words), tortured and hounded from his ancestral home in the Blackwood.

I readily admit that I have a tiny obsession with Frith. He is a wonderfully multi-faceted character whom you cannot help but love. His moral compass may be somewhat short of decent, but that makes him a far more credible human being considering his tough past.

Williams effectively portrays contemporary issues and relationships, using devices rarely found in fantasy with a traditional bent. Specifics aside, I thought Sebastian’s predicament was communicated with a light, perceptive touch, which was never an overt broadcast of the author’s own opinion. Out of the three protagonists, Sebastian probably develops the most, and I liked him better for his weaknesses. I hope I don’t sound too crude when I say that Williams drags the untarnished knight stereotype through the dirt.

Wydrin is the most confident in her own abilities. She has a distinctive personality, again atypical of a fantasy hero. She can be annoying and charming in equal measure and provides some much needed common sense in times of difficulty. Often she alone recognises the reality of a situation, while the men hot-headedly act without thinking. She gets my vote for that trait alone.

I think you can clearly see by the structure of this review that the characters carry the story. When we do have setting, it’s well-realised, but not belaboured. Williams doesn’t revel in long-winded descriptions of place. She paints what needs to be painted and drops her characters straight into the scene. If you are in any way weary of great-complicated-empire-type fantasy, this is the book for you.

The magic system is pretty straight-forward, but I liked the twist of writing the words of control on bandages which the mage then wears into battle. Even though the magic of the mages is powerful, there are many limitations on its use, which – as Williams herself has publicly discussed – ensures that our heroes don’t have too easy a time of it.

I was rather surprised at how quickly the book wrapped up. I expected the last narrative arc to take place in a subsequent book, perhaps because I am so used to long-drawn out plots. Even though the denouement unfolds over a scant few pages, it doesn’t seem rushed, which is indicative of real ability on the author’s part. Although The Copper Promise works well as a stand-alone novel, the ending is left open for subsequent adventures. And I wouldn’t miss those for the world.

In conclusion, this is a confident, well-written debut with an echo of Dungeons and Dragons. Its superb character-driven narrative simultaneously breaks the mould while remaining true to traditional sword and sorcery adventure. Throw in one suitably malevolent dragon and you have yourself an epic book.
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If like me, you have a yearning to return to the old days of fantasy for that lustre of ancient gold as well as an epic story of heroics then you have to pick up this debut novel by Jen Williams that will scratch that itch. Within is a tale that has great characters, some wonderful turns of phrase and more than fulfils the desires of the reader within the pages for a return to the old days of Forgotten Realms that still not only hold a place in my heart but on my bookshelves.

Throw into the mix characters that have their own motives, some wonderful dialogue and of course a whole set of problems that will leave them questioning their abilities and all round I was a more than happy reader. Great stuff.
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