The Glass Breaks – The Form and Void Trilogy – Book One, A.J.Smith,
Head of Zeus, HB, £18.99
Reviewed By Steve Dean
It is the 167th year of the Dark Age (in this novel, nothing to do with lockdown), the time when the Sea Wolves invaded these lands and established the kingdom of the Four Claws. Duncan Greenfire has just been pulled from the sea after being chained to a rock, surviving by using his wyrd or magical powers. He is now, at least technically, a Sea Wolf, although others don’t seem to agree, including his own father. Duncan is determined to prove himself worthy. Although he’s only a little fella, his wyrd is very strong, and he soon attracts the attention of the Sea Wolf totem, a huge spirit wolf. She tells him he’s got to become great to save the Sea Wolves but doesn’t tell him how.
This book is divided almost exactly in half by two threads. The second one, set in the same time and place but involving another character, follows duellist Adeline Brand (a type of soldier who uses wyrd and weapons). She’s sent to investigate some local trouble and encounters a weird human/fish hybrid whose race is trying to destroy the Sea Wolves.
The glass of the title refers to the substance that divides the Form plane of existence from the Void plane. Those who use wyrd draw their power by temporarily opening this divide and tapping the magic beyond.
Technically, this book is fine. It’s well written and plotted, the characters are well-rounded, and the whole thing works as a piece of fiction. The first problem I had with the story was that the Sea Wolves were invaders; they took over the land from the Pure, the local inhabitants, and treated them as possessions. (Sounds familiar.) Who then are the heroes? Because the Pure are barely involved.
The second problem, and I admit this could be entirely down to myself, was the originality. There was nothing new here for me, nothing I hadn’t seen before.
Overall, this is a competent book, but if you’ve been reading fantasy for a while, you might find it a bit familiar.