I decided to read both of the Wothlondia short stories before reading Vanucci's novel The Covenant of the Faceless Knights. A Rose in Bloom was my favourite of the two short stories, mainly because it was little more gritty and more action packed than Distant Familiarity. There's betrayal, prostitution and thievery; the author isn't afraid of describing sex and gore. I do enjoy traditional fantasy but ever since reading A Song of Ice and Fire, I have read a lot more dark and gritty fantasy and completely enjoyed it.
Rose is depicted as a strong, independent young girl who works in a brothel, after years of mistreatment and misery. I enjoyed the fact that I wasn't reading some description of a young pure and defenceless damsel in distress; Rose is sexually provocative, intelligent and able to fend for herself, shown in her expert thieving. She seems to have a wild side and is a bit of a fighter, so I'm really looking forward to seeing her character develop throughout the main novel. I'm also looking forward to seeing how Rose is introduced in the Covenant of the Faceless Knights. Her expertise as a thief and skill with a blade will surely make her a fine companion on any quest. I'm also interested in seeing more of Rose' special ability and seeing how it will be used in the novel, and also maybe an explanation of how exactly she has such an ability in the first place.
From the beginning, I was thrown head first into the action of this short story and became embroiled in Rose' life and future. There is something exciting happening on every page, whether it is a description of Rose' special ability, her fiery relationship with Ganthorpe or her fighting or thieving. I like books that don't really let me have a little rest from all the action but just constantly bombards' me with excitement page after page; after all, I don't want to get bored. The climax of this story is just nail biting and you are never quite sure how it will all end, and may be slightly shocked at the outcome. Vanucci has a great way of creating an immense feeling of foreboding in his stories. I could tell that something wasn't quite right with Saphirra, and the action that follows is evidence of the betrayal that seeps into the story. You know your reading a good story when the text is full of emotion, that stirs the emotions of the reader; one minute you could feel joyful and the next a sense of disconcertion and unfamiliarity.
After reading the two short stories I am confident that I will thoroughly enjoy the Covenant of the Faceless Knights. Vanucci has a wonderful flare for writing fantasy, with detailed descriptions, authentic and suitable dialogue and a brilliant sense of emotion and tone within the stories themselves. You truly believe that this is a real, authentic fantasy world. They're both little starters giving you a taste of what is to come. A Rose in Bloom is gritty, dark and sensuous, a short story that stirred up my emotions, surprised me a little and left me wanting more.
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