Quill by A.C. Cobble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Quill by A. C. Cobble
I was given a review copy by the author.
Quill is a story set in a different universe’s version of the British Empire, one that seems very familiar, but is wholly different. It happens in a world with magic, and spirits, and also airships and trains. There are guns and bombs, and sorcerers and druids, too.
It is the story of nobleman adventurer Oliver Wellesley, the Cartographer of the series title, who is very far down in the line of royal succession so he is merely rich and aimless, and also apparently a sex-magnet. He is finagled into investigating a murder which smacks of the ancient, forbidden art of sorcery, and is partnered with beautiful, sex-hungry (this comes up a lot) sorcerer-killer priestess, Sam No-last-name.
They jaunt all over this not-at-all British Empire (which pays little heed to the true costs of empire and colonialism) and meet sorcerers and hedge witches and lustful heiresses and, generally, spill a whole lot of blood.
It’s an adventure. It’s a romp. It’s two-fisted, leather-pantsed, drunken alley fighting fun.
There’s a lot to recommend this book. It’s got originality, it’s got some very nice structural planning (the alternating viewpoints work very well, and the character tics turn out to be actually quite meaningful), and the dialog isn’t weighed down by hyper-witty banter. People who like airships and hard-punching women will dig the story.
The pacing was nice, and never felt draggy either.
The writing is solid, if a bit too in love with certain turns of phrase (the euphemism “sanguine fluid” for blood appeared a few times, and bothers me still), and generally well-edited. There are more typos than you might find in a pro publication, but far less than in most self-pubs, so it’s on the good side. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the prose, honestly. It’s better than, say, Sanderson in many respects.
There are a few plot tunnels but they’re really not that important overall. It’s the kind of book that you should go into for a fun read, rather than looking for a deep reflection on human nature or what have you.
I liked it. I’d like to read the sequel, honestly, since the end kind of went for a semi-cliffhanger and I like these characters.
Thank you, A. C. Cobble, for the copy, and the fun read!
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Quill by A.C. Cobble