Audiobook Review: A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall
Narrator: Angele Masters
Published by Hachette Audio, Orbit on April 14th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Epic
Length: 24 hours 57 minutes
"It was all going so nicely, right up until the massacre."Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history. Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner.FIVE VILLAINS. ONE LEGENDARY GENERAL. A FINAL QUEST FOR VENGEANCE.
A Crown for Cold Silver is bloody, dark and wonderfully witty. It is packed with action, suspense, plots for power. Oh, and of course, the massacre that kicks off the book.
I’ll be honest. This is one of those books that is hard to keep track of, particularly in the beginning. If I hadn’t seen this mentioned elsewhere, perhaps I would think it was just me even though I’ve read plenty of epic fantasy with large casts. Much like Malazan or Black Company, the reader is dumped into the story and has to piece information and history together as is it is given. I decided to just go with the flow. Honestly, there were times I had trouble keeping characters straight in the beginning. Perhaps I was tired, not sure, but it all came together. And, I have to say I enjoyed every minute of the book even when I did feel slightly unsure if I was keeping up to speed as I should be. Why? Well, I just loved the overall tone and ‘attitude’ of this book. I quite often mention I am very picky about humor in books. This book, while would never get classified as a Comedy book, was incredibly humorous. And it all struck home perfectly for me. While the structure of the story reminded me a bit more of Malazan or Black Company, the overall tone of the book felt more like Abercrombie.
Zosia was a powerhouse of a protagonist and I loved every minute with her. Her witty and wry humor is just perfect. It is also interesting as we get to know her character in two ways. One, is through her perspective as who she is now (a 50 year old widow who has lost everything but her ominous dog Choplicker, for whom she seems to have no affection). But we also get to know her from her reputation, her past and what people say about her now.
Twenty years before we are introduced to her, she was known as “Cold Cobalt”, a general who led a revolution, fighting for the rights of the common people. They named her Queen, but it didn’t last long, as she lost a duel to the “death”. However, in the past 20 years, she has lived on in the spirit of the people she fought for and became a legend that continued to inspire. In fact, there is even a rumor that she lives on and is yet again raising an army. No matter if you are learning about her through her perspective or through the legends, she is an undeniably strong woman and fascinating character.
This is a story that seems both complex and simple at the same time. Complex because there are so many pieces and people in the works, and you have to learn about the politics and motivations of all the players. Sometimes these are more obvious than others, sometimes they are personal, sometimes they are political. But yet, when we get the personal motivations of those involved and when you understand that, it becomes much clearer/simpler. There are also some interesting twists here, and some of what you expected to be the cause of events, may not actually be the case.
The book has a stronger presence of fantastical elements than many of the grim dark books I would compare this to. There are Demons that play a role in an interesting way as they can be bound to service to an individual. There are also wizards and magic and mysterious gates. Fun stuff.
There may be an investment in the beginning while the reader learns all the characters and moving pieces, but it is one that I feel pays of strongly by the end, and probably even more so in the next book. Definitely recommend, and for anyone that has stalled part way, I encourage you to revisit this because it is one hell of a bloody, wonderful and amusing book. I am definitely looking forward to the next installment where I learn more about Zosia and all the rest.
Audiobook Comments: I am quite happy with my decision to listen to this one instead of reading print. I read so many reviews and DNF updates where people struggled with the slow beginning and constant POV switches. I actually worried that might make listening harder, but the great thing about it is that it forces you to go with the flow. The book keeps moving and you just have to keep with it. I did have some problems keeping everything straight in the beginning, but from what I have heard that was not an experience unique to listening versus reading. I felt Angele Masters gave a good performance. There were a couple of quick interactions where I felt her voice for a particular character was a bit more dramatic than I would have preferred, but I’m typically a more subdued type of reader, and it was probably just a few lines in the entire book. Overall, definitely a strong performance that kept me entertained and engaged with this book that many print readers had trouble with in the start. This is a huge plus for the narrator.