Wednesday 9 May 2018

Crimson - Arthur Slade

Arthur Slade
Harper Collins 
ISBN 9781443416689
eISBN 9781443416702

I discovered the writing of Arthur Slade in 2002, that year I read both Dust and Tribes and have been a fan ever since. He has written 28 books, and I have read all of them a few more than once. At the writing of this review I have read an Arthur Slade book 35 times. But this book is unlike anything that he has previously written. This book is a true fantasy novel. And I am amazed yet again at what a wordsmith Slade is and his skill with the pen. This is one of those book that I know I will be thinking about for weeks. It will come back to mind again and again. 

Queen Servilla has ruled for over a thousand years. She controls through magic, through fear, and through terror. She can speak directly into the minds of her subjects. She awakens them each day, and can even penetrate their dreams. The source of her power if magic, and that magic is shaped and melded from red dust that is mined solely for her use and purposes. 

Fen is a young girl, now 21, She lost a hand to the queen for stealing when she was a little girl. And she lost her father to the red cough after he spent years in the mines. Anyone with red hair, crimson hair is hunted and killed by the queen. Fen starts with a few strands of red hair that her mother covers with a dye. Then a patch, and then overnight her whole head turns crimson. And she must flee. She now has wild magic, and is running away. 

In her adventures she meets another with wild magic named Ithak, a red soldier of the queen, whose life she saves more than once, and Mansren a non-human creature of pure magic. She is on a quest to save her sister and if she can stop the Queen Servilia, and maybe set Irthra free. This quest takes her through salt marshes, through an enchanted forest, into a volcano, and then she must journey back again.

Fen is a heroine, whom I look forward to sharing with my daughters as they get older. She is strong, and brave, but also tempered by compassion and mercy. She tries to be true to the way she was raised. To be honest, and caring. Her magic gives her new powers and abilities but it is not something she will abuse. She even feels remorse for defeating creatures that would kill her and turn her over to the queen. 

Over the years I have read many novels, especially fantasy novels that looked amazing from their description but just did not pull it off. Some fell short on characters, some on plot, some just on execution of the concept. That is not the case here. The writing is tight. The plot and pace excellent. The story is incredible. The story bright to mind Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana and also LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea. Not since I read Slade's Dust has one of his books so captivated my imagination. Of the 27 books by Slade that I have read the vast majority receive 5/5 stars, and this one definitely gets a big 5 stars. An amazing read!

Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)
Crimson (2018)
Death by Airship (2019)
Mr. Universe (2021)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
aka Modo Mission Clockwork Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

Northern Frights Reprint Editions:
Draugr (2020)
Drang (2020)
Loki Wolf (2020)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)

Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted
Amber Fang: Betrayed
Amber Fang: Revenge
Amber Fang Box Set Books 1-3

Dragon Assassin Series:
Twin Fury
Shadow Hunter
Dark Wings
Elder Magic
Hidden Powers
Burning Empire
Old Enemies

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Viper - Short Story

Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 

(Canadian cover)
(Original International cover)
(Reprint International cover)

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