The Sword Falls – The Form and Void Trilogy – Book Two by A.J.Smith
Head of Zeus, HB, £20.00
Reviewed By Steve Dean
The Sea Wolves are a bunch of Viking-like warriors who conquered the lands of the Four Claws 167 years ago. They live by slaughter and pillage, mainly of the almost defenceless Pure whose land they stole. Now they are facing a foe who isn’t so easy to kill. The Dreaming God is waking up and sending its fishy forces to destroy the Sea Wolves.
Like book one of this trilogy, The Sword Falls is divided into two threads, each following the adventures of one character in the same world and timeline. Duellist Adeline Brand returns, now promoted to Alpha Wolf by the Sea Wolves’ totem, a spirit wolf. In this instance, a duellist is a well-trained soldier who can use magic or wyrd, not someone who likes to slap other people in the face with a gauntlet. Adeline leads her forces to battle against this new threat and finds them difficult to kill, to say the least.
The second thread follows Prince Oliver Dawn Claw, heir to the throne of the Four Claws. When his father dies, Oliver expects to be crowned king but is thwarted at every turn as he tries to take the throne and claim his birthright. It seems he is surrounded by enemies who want to keep him off the throne to divide and weaken the kingdom.
As I said in my review of book one, the Sea Wolves really aren’t very nice people. They’re murderous conquerors who are constantly falling out and backstabbing, and front stabbing, each other. They treat the locals and everyone they meet like scum and generally stomp around like overgrown children if they don’t get what they want. That being the case, there really aren’t any good people to cheer on, just two armies battling each other, like reading a historical text.
Overall, the book is well-written, the world-building is competent, and the characters are well-drawn. I had a problem with the originality, probably because I’m old and cynical, but if you can see past this, your enjoyment of the book might depend on whether you can get behind the Sea Wolves and cheer them on, or if you think they get what they deserve.