Talonsister by Jen Williams

Talonsister by Jen Williams
Talonsister by Jen Williams. This edition Titan Books, 2023

My thanks to Titan Books and NetGalley for providing an Advanced Reading Copy of Talonsister.

Jen Williams is another one of those authors I love to read. Her first novel, The Copper Promise was an absolute gem of a read, and everything she’s written since then has just gotten better.

The novel follows several separate and disparate characters in a world not dissimilar to our own during the height of the Roman Empire. Indeed, there is an all-conquering Empire that strives to bring all other nations under its Blessed mantle, and a rebellious holdout nation called Brittletain that according to the included map looks an awful lot like Britain. So, a fantasy alternative to Roman Europe, but not quite. And honestly, this conceit in itself made this one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

The characters themselves include an interesting mix. There’s Leven, the retired Imperial super-soldier; Ynis, a human girl raised by griffins and struggling to fit in; Kaeto, an Imperial spy and assassin charged with escorting bone-crafter Gynid Tyleigh on a quest to uncover a hitherto undiscovered race of Titans; Belise, Kaeto’s young, brash assistant and protégé; and Cillian, the mystical young Druin with some fringe opinions that make him unpopular amongst his colleagues. Through their eyes and individual narratives, we get to see quite a bit of the world that Williams has set up for us here, and slowly get to piece together a tale of some unnamed darkness lurking in the shadows. A darkness that, given the author’s previous works, we know damned well will rise up to bite everyone in the ass.

According to ISFDB this is Williams’ eighth novel to date, and of the ones I’ve read is, so far, her best. It carries a lot of the same tongue-in-cheek humour as her earlier works, and while it may not be quite as dark as her Winnowing Flame trilogy, it still has a murky edge to it that will occasionally send the odd shiver down your spine. Add in more than a few traces of Celtic influence, some Ghibli-esque spirits, and a nod of the head to Egyptian mythology, and you have a fine recipe for adventure.

I genuinely loved this one, and definitely can’t wait for book two to come along. In the meantime, I may have to go back and reread some of the author’s earlier stuff, just because.

Please leave a comment...

%d bloggers like this: