This book was originally self-published in two parts, entitled 'The Crown Conspiracy' and 'Avempartha'. Its now also available in print in single and omnibus editions.
This series is one of the best things Ive read for a while. The entire series of 6 books (3 in omnibus format) are now available in print and ebook formats. Ive read them all over a week and a half and each one is better than the last. This story is a very humorous road trip reminiscent of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. The series does its best to subvert most standard fantasy themes - no noble elves and dwarves here, nor pitiful goblins. The standard building blocks are all present, slightly altered giving the series a definite feel of standing out from the crowd. The world building is masterfully done - each brick has been carefully hand crafted - not drawn wholesale from the stock of traditional fantasy building blocks. The resulting edifice is unique while still encompassing all the expectations of traditional heroic fantasy.
Though its fair to say that Hadrian and Royce are the main characters - they are not the only heroes. The author has not missed the fact that you dont have to be big, or clever to be a hero. The recurring supporting cast - many of whom appear across the entire series and whom see their own backgrounds develop - some happily, some with tragedy - are particularly well written. Every book reveals more and more about each of the characters. Often what seems a throwaway comment was found to be significant in later volumes. TWhat sometimes irks a little is the dearth of background on Hadrian and Royce. Having read the entire series - it is worth waiting for. Later books expand significantly on their prior history. The construction of the main story arc over all six books is magnificently realised and has obviously been lovingly polished and revised to perfection over many years. There is no middle book syndrome here. All the books have self contained storylines which build on and contribute to the series as a whole. The careful release of backstory to advance the main arc is raised to a high art.
In the first book Royce and Hadrian are framed for killing the King and ending up kidnapping the Prince to clear their name. To clear their name they have to breaking in to an inescapable prison and solve who is behind the death of the king. Cue wizards, princes, princesses and dwarves. The initial story reminds me of Fritz liebers Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser.
The second story deals the duo again babysitting a member of the royal family whilst becoming engaged with a prophecy about a lost heir an unkillable beast, an unnapproachable fortress. Cue wizards, princes, princesses ,dwarves, magic swords , dragons, scheming clergy and an entire village caught in the middle.
One of the best new fantasy discoveries of recent years. Biggest bonus the whole series is already in print. IMHO this series is the new Magician. 6 solid books is something to be very proud of.
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