Review: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

The Copper Promise

Book One of The Copper Cat Trilogy

by Jen Williams

Fantasy | 535 Pages | Published by Headline Books in 2014

| Rating |

If you’re in the mood for an exciting escapade; for daring sword fights, destructive dragons and more than a little magic, then The Copper Promise will deliver by the spadeful. The first in The Copper Cat Trilogy is is a tale which echoes the spirit of traditional and heroic fantasy and is relentless in its own pursuit of mischief, mayhem and magic. With a wonderful cast of characters and the unsavoury machinations of gods, men and demons, The Copper Promise is a fantastically fun, entirely captivating and incredibly enjoyable tale of unbridled adventure.

There are some tall stories about the caverns beneath the Citadel – about magic and mages and monsters and gods.

Wydrin of Crosshaven has heard them all, but she’s spent long enough trawling caverns and taverns with her companion Sir Sebastian to learn that there’s no money to be made in chasing rumours.

But then a crippled nobleman with a dead man’s name offers them a job: exploring the Citadel’s darkest depths. It sounds like just another quest with gold and adventure … if they’re lucky, they might even have a tale of their own to tell once it’s over.

But these reckless adventurers will soon learn that sometimes there is truth in rumour: Sometimes a story can save your life.

When a strange and seemingly broken man makes a deal with The Copper Cat of Crosshaven all thoughts are turned to bountiful riches and limitless glory. Whilst breaking into the mysterious Citadel may be no hard task for The Copper Cat and her loyal companion Sebastian, breaking out again will be no small matter. For something far darker and far more terrible lies in wait in the dark labyrinth of the Citadel, an ancient power which seeks destruction at all costs; a power which once awoken will not rest until it sees the world burn.

From the dry and cracked earth of Relios, to the deep forests of the Blackwood, Jen Williams has created a diverse and memorable landscape on which to play out her adventure. As priests abound in the desert so pirates saturate Crosshaven, and with far flung locations getting more than just a mention, these landmarks become intimately entwined within the story and become real fixtures in the landscape. With a surfeit of thieves, rogues, bandits and brigands, this is a world which is always teetering on the edge of action, where a story always lurks around the corner and which provides endless possibilities for our merry band of miscreants.

Jen Williams has created a stand out cast of characters whose interwoven storylines are all marked by a sense of ‘the quest’ and are depicted with a spirit of fun and adventure, a trait not to be overlooked in a world which threatens to burn. These are characters who have been dragged from lives of misadventure, lives where honour and motivations are often conflicting, and are set on a path which could culminate in their glory or destruction in what could be a vain attempt to save the world – albeit after they caused all the trouble in the first place.

The three main characters highlight the brilliance of Williams’ extensive dramatis personae. Wydrin, The Copper Cat, is a refreshing fantasy heroine; a feisty little redhead with a quick wit and very sharp knives, she’s amusing, intelligent and brings a wonderfully roguish quality to the narrative. Sebastian, Wydrin’s moral compass, is by contrast honourable and selfless but finds himself sorely tested throughout the narrative, whilst Frith, Lord of the Blackwood, comes across as both mysterious and selfish despite his (begrudging) tendency to do the right thing.

Jen Williams is a wonderful storyteller whose characters are entertaining, whose narrative is bold and exciting, and whose writing captures the imagination in a whirlwind of chaos and adventure. The myriad of people, places and creatures which pervade the narrative are ridiculously entertaining, completely absorbing and throw you head first into a world of colourful characters and eccentric cultures. The Copper Promise, which began life as four novellas, is effortless in its writing style and blends seamlessly into a whole to create one jolly good yarn.

If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned tale of adventure, one which sweeps you off into another world and throws a whole heap of dragons, weapons and magic in your general direction, then I couldn’t recommend The Copper Promise enough. Jen Williams has soared to the top of my to read list after this wonderful debut and is likely to remain there until I’ve devoured the rest of the trilogy – this is one world I cannot wait to get back to!

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