The Scroll of Years – Gaunt and Bone #1 – Chris Willrich
It’s Brent Weeks meets China Mieville in this wildly imaginative fantasy debut featuring high action, elegant writing, and sword and sorcery with a Chinese flare.
Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone are a romantic couple and partners in crime. Persimmon is a poet from a well-to-do family, who found herself looking for adventure, while Imago is a thief in his ninth decade who is double-cursed, and his body has not aged in nearly seventy years. Together, their services and wanderlust have taken them into places better left unseen, and against odds best not spoken about. Now, they find themselves looking to get away, to the edge of the world, with Persimmon pregnant with their child, and the most feared duo of assassins hot on their trail. However, all is never what it seems, and a sordid adventure-complete with magic scrolls, gangs of thieves, and dragons both eastern and western-is at hand.
The first thing I noticed when I received this book was its beautiful cover. I mean, look at it, it’s stunning! If I hadn’t received this book from the generous people at Pyr, but just stumbled across it in a bookshop, I’d definitely have bought it, because, yeah, I do judge a book by its cover sometimes. Especially when I’m on a book-shopping spree. So as a first impression, this book scored big time with me. After reading the summary I was even more eager to start reading this book. Two lovers, partners in crime, running from assassins to the other end of the world and dragons crossing their path? I’m in!
It’s been a while since I read a book like this one. If I have to describe it in one word, I’d choose “entertaining”. This book was just so much fun to read, I enjoyed every page of it. The dialogue is witty, the characters are quirky and amusing, the setting was beautifully described and there’s lots of action going on between these pages.
The Eastern setting gives a special atmosphere to the whole story. It gave me a much needed break from the Fantasy novels set in Western civilizations. Willrich created an interesting population here, dividing the people into Garden and Forrest, each with its own history and views on how life should be lived. I loved the interaction between the two camps and learning about their background and their beliefs.
The main characters Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone aren’t the deep fleshed out characters I normally like, but nevertheless I enjoyed reading about them greatly. They have very distinct personalities that give a special flavor to the book. Along the way they encounter a cast of different characters that will ultimately play a big role in their further adventures. All of them are great characters, each bringing that bit extra to the story. As a whole, Willrich created a great cast of characters to populate his pages. They definitely keep your attention.
The author also gives a whole new spin to dragons and their lifestyle, which I absolutely adored. There’s one moment in this book where one of the characters describes the dragons and I just itched to quote it here, it was so beautiful, but I’d rather you discovered it yourself. It’s far too amazing to spoil it for you. Just know that these dragons, though familiar, have a whole other story than the ones your used to.
Nearing the end the book felt a bit rushed, but looking back it didn’t bother me that much. Maybe I would have liked the story to evolve a bit slower during that part of the book, but I can see why the author choose this approach.
If you start this book, don’t expect a masterpiece with deep storylines and complex characters. If you go in expecting that, you’ll be disappointed. Go in it expecting to have fun and you’ll get exactly what you want. ‘The Scroll of Years’ is one of the most entertaining books I’ve read all year. If you’re looking for excitement, beautiful descriptions and an intriguing new world with fun characters and imaginative spins, you should definitely pick this book up!