Friday 8 May 2015

Sins of a Sovereignty by Plague Jack

I review Sins of a Sovereignty, a self published fantasy novel by Plague Jack, the latest novel to be covered as part of the Great Self Published Fantasy Blog Off.

Ten years ago a terrifying superweapon left one of Amernia’s most illustrious cities permanently shrouded in poisoned fog. Over the past decade, three great evils have haunted the Amernian people. First is the elusive Blood Queen, who holds Amernia in an iron grip. Second, are the entombed old gods, who speak only to a chosen few. Third is the nation's scar, a seemingly endless expanse of green miasma that has claimed the north. The rift between rich and poor, human and nonhuman, divides the kingdom more every day. As a spectral rider streaks across the sky, heralding the death of kings, foreign nations circle like vultures hungry for a feast. Legendary veteran of two wars, Sir Clark Pendragon, is sent north to quell the rising chaos. New alliances will be forged and broken as a Wild War threatens to tear Amernia asunder.

Sins of a Sovereignty is the third novel that I’ve read as part of this Blog Off and it’s probably the strongest so far. Those of you familiar with A Song of Ice and Fire (and most of you will be) will know what to expect here, with the book being dark, full of well-developed characters, each of whom are flawed and have plenty of imperfections. These aren’t the typical heroes of a fantasy novel, and you wouldn’t even call them heroes at all. Set in the world of Amernia, ten years after a superweapon left its great cities permanently shrouded in fog, the well-developed background for the novel really helps make it immersive. We really get an understanding of this world and the world building itself is probably one of the strongest parts about this novel, with Amernia itself being on the verge of an Industrial Revolution even though parts of swords and sorcery are still present. There are chemical weapons and machines which have already been invented and they fit naturally with the tone of the book which allows for a unique approach to the fantasy genre.

We’re introduced to multiple characters over the course of the book and we spend lots of time with them. Sir Clark Pendragon has a history of being loyal to his Queen even through the Green War, and has earned a divisive reputation with both the Elf Butcher and the Dragon Knight being titles attributed to him. However, his loyalty to the Queen is about to be tested when the veteran of two wars is sent North to stop the rising chaos, before a Wild War can tear Amernia to apart. Whilst Pendragon is one of the prominent characters who we spend time with in this book he’s far from the only one, as we spent time with not only the Blood Queen herself, the ruler of Amernia, but also Shrike the dwarf, a firm believer in the Queen. The emphasis on character development is welcomed as although there are a few that feel one-dimensional, the majority of the cast is well rounded and captivating, as far too often, fantasy writers can fall into the trap of focusing on plot or world building and not spending enough time fleshing out the characters beyond simple stereotypes. That’s certainly not the case here.

Don’t go in expecting a lighter fantasy, because Sins of a Sovereignty is probably one of the darkest books that I’ve read so far this year. There’s lots of gore and Plague Jack isn’t afraid to kill his characters off and put them through things that most writers would shy away from. This book might just be the biggest surprise out of the ones that I’ve read so far, because although the ending feels open-ended, setting up for a sequel, I really didn’t have a lot of problems with this. The world building and character development is excellent and the dialogue is impressive as well. If you’re looking for an unpredictable, engaging fantasy novel that will hopefully be the start of an awesome series then look no further than Sins of Sovereignty. If future books are as good as the first, then I’ll certainly be returning for more.

VERDICT: 8.5/10

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