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A Crown for Cold Silver

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A Crown for Cold Silver PDF, ePub eBook Five villians. One legendary general. A final quest for venegeance. 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 ha Five villians. One legendary general. A final quest for venegeance. 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.

30 review for A Crown for Cold Silver

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    That was odd and awesome! Bad @ss old lady kicking butt with a demon dog and revenge, revenge, revenge! I hate that an older lady had to come out of peaceful living to kick some @ss and seek revenge on some jerks that killed her life; in a nutshell. Choplicker is my favorite character. And I also loved that an older lady had to come out of peaceful living to seek revenge <—- see what I did there?! 😉 I couldn’t understand a lot but it was epic none-the-less. A+ for originality ✅ Happy Reading! That was odd and awesome! Bad @ss old lady kicking butt with a demon dog and revenge, revenge, revenge! I hate that an older lady had to come out of peaceful living to kick some @ss and seek revenge on some jerks that killed her life; in a nutshell. Choplicker is my favorite character. And I also loved that an older lady had to come out of peaceful living to seek revenge <—- see what I did there?! 😉 I couldn’t understand a lot but it was epic none-the-less. A+ for originality ✅ Happy Reading! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bookwraiths

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. Immediately after finishing this novel, I rated it 3.5 star. Now, after mulling it over for a few weeks, I'm downgrading that to a 2.5 star rating for reasons to be explained. A Crown for Cold Silver was a book seemingly tailor made for my tastes; a grimdark-esque, epic fantasy which throws you directly into a complex story, demanding that you quickly acclimate yourself to the setting and characters, as multiple points of view are used to create a rich, new wor Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. Immediately after finishing this novel, I rated it 3.5 star. Now, after mulling it over for a few weeks, I'm downgrading that to a 2.5 star rating for reasons to be explained. A Crown for Cold Silver was a book seemingly tailor made for my tastes; a grimdark-esque, epic fantasy which throws you directly into a complex story, demanding that you quickly acclimate yourself to the setting and characters, as multiple points of view are used to create a rich, new world filled with unique races, strange cultures, and a deep history. At least, that is how I envisioned it. And for the first two-thirds of the novel, I enjoyed Alex Marshall’s first foray into the Crimson Empire well enough, but then the negative elements of the story overcame the positives, sending my enjoyment of the narrative into a nosedive until it eventually crumbled into oblivion after a very disappointing ending. I’ll explain why in a moment. First, let me describe the set up of this fantasy tale. A few decades ago, a tough-as-nails revolutionary called Cold Cobalt aka the Banshee with a Blade and the First Among Villains lead her Five Villains and their home grown army across the Crimson Empire, fighting to destroy the monarchy and uplift the downtrodden people. And through skill, trickery, and pure luck, Cold Cobalt succeeded in her coup and crowned herself Queen Zosia of the Crimson Empire. May her enlightened reign last forever! Only one problem: Zosia didn’t particularly like being queen. She found the politics and constant scheming by the remaining nobility and the Black Pope (leader of the Burnished Chain religion) insanely annoying, and when her idealistic dreams for social reform and uniform justice for all began to fail, she did what she did best: She challenged someone to a duel to the death, winner take the Empire. In the years since Queen Zosia lost that duel, the Crimson Empire has been in perpetual turmoil. The current Queen and Black Pope fighting a bloody civil war (which has only recently ended); Zosia’s Five Villains taking part for a while before disappearing from the world stage; and the commoners whom Cold Cobalt sought to aid finding themselves beaten down more than ever. Out of this chaos, a new revolutionary movement has arisen, proclaiming in pamphlets and graffiti that ‘Zosia Lives!’ Far away from the social unrest and brewing revolution lies an isolated mountain hamlet. The people there are poor but proud, and they have avoided the civil wars, paid taxes to which ever side demanded them. When a regiment of troops arrive unexpected, they do not come for cows or goats or crops, but for blood; their mission to send a message to someone; someone they do not even know. Their subsequent acts of horrible savagery shattering the idyllic life of an aging character, who is then driven from the shadows of domestic bliss, forced to charge out into an unfamiliar world seeking bloody revenge, looking for old friends and allies, and desperately trying to recapture the old magic which once came so easy. This individual never suspecting that the war to determined the fate of the Crimson Empire – and the very world — has already begun! Well, it sounds pretty damn good when I describe it like that, right? And A Crown for Cold Silver did start out great. At least, in my eyes, it did.. The beginning chapters quickly and effortlessly capturing the trauma and determination of our main character. The writing style, the prose, was amazing, detailed yet crisp, leading me to favorably compare the book to one of my favorites: George R.R. Martin’s Mi>A Game of Thrones. Needless to say, I believed great things awaited me among the pages of this grimdark-esque fantasy. Then things began to happen. Small missteps really. But they began to add up quickly. Soon, enough had arisen that I felt frustration take hold of me. Eventually, there were so many issues I had to encourage myself to finish the story. And, now, I find it difficult to write this review, because I know the negatives will greatly outstrip the positives, and I really hate to speak negatively about a writer’s work. Obviously, I can and have done so, but I don’t enjoy it; it doesn’t make me feel good. Since I’m a reviewer by choice, however, I feel it only fair to let people know the issues I had with A Crown for Cold Silver, and then they can decide for themselves if they agree or disagree with me. First, the story was too slow. In sections, it literally crawled. I blame this on too many points of view. We go from a handful at the beginning to a plethora of characters by the end. While it certainly isn’t unusual for an epic fantasy to have multiple characters, A Crown for Cold Silver really over did it, causing the story of each person to really stagnate, as they waited for their time in the spotlight. Sure, there was a minor amount of character development, but not nearly enough considering the length of this novel. Second, I never connected with any of the characters. Let me talk about main and supporting characters separately. Please understand that I’m using those designations loosely, because there were so many point of view characters it is difficult to pin down who the lead actually was. For my part, I assumed the “main” character was the old-badass-coming-out-of-retirement-to-get-revenge. Naturally, I envisioned significant character development as this person dealt with a huge personal tragedy, reconnected with old friends, faced previous enemies, tried to fit into a different world, and schemed for revenge. What I got wasn’t even close. The character never developed after an amazing opening introduction. Instead, this person traveled around telling everyone “Hey, I’m a badass!” rather than actually doing anything remotely badass, then spent the rest of the time being made a fool of by lesser characters, propositioning sex from any girl who gets close for more than 5 seconds, and reminiscing about smoking, drugs, sex, and the epic skill of pipe carving. (Yes, pipe carving seems to be a big thing.) Honestly, by the end of the story, I really did not like this person at all, nor did I care if they lived or died. As for the “supporting” characters, they were a mixed bag, but the one constant was that they were fairly unlikeable. One of them is a recovering drug addict who is a repetitive screw up, but he never seem to learn from his mistakes; another is a young man (Think Saul Silver from the movie Pineapple Express) who wants to find his way in the world, but never knows how to do anything except smoke “weed”; a third is a young princess determined to prove her maturity by acting like a brat most of the time, smoking “weed”, sleeping with whomever she pleases, and refusing to listen to anyone older than thirty; and another is a religious warrior whose deformities and magical abilities mark her as a freak, but who deals with her outcast status by satisfying her sexual fetishes at every opportunity. Perhaps it is just me, but none of these guys were the least bit compelling, amusing, or complex, nor do they grow or develop at all. There were several other minor characters mixed in with these, but none of them really amounted to much other than being moving scenery. Third, the plot twists began to loose their “WOW!” factor after a while. Twists and turns, shocks and surprises, they are part of what makes a story great. But they have to be used sparingly, or they become pretty meh. I mean, honestly, hasn’t George R.R. Martin’s tendency to kill every Stark . . . uh, I mean, main character gotten fairly pedestrian after five books? It has to me anyway, because I know it is going to happen, so there really isn’t a big “WOW!” moment, but rather an “Oh, that again” moment. And that is how I felt in Crown, because every few chapters there was another revelation about this character being someone else or this character having a hidden motive. After the third time of someone taking their helmet off and saying “Look I’m not really John Doe; I’m Jim Doe!” I just began to roll my eyes. Fourth, the supposed gender equality. I’m all for gender equality. Strong men, strong women. Nothing better than two equals dealing with one another. Sure, some characters will be stronger than others, but no Richard Rahl-like supermen in a 2015 fantasy books, right? And I was really hopeful Crown was going to deliver a world without gender inequality. What Alex Marshall does, however, is merely replace the dominate man of yesteryears with a dominant woman and proudly declare, “Look, look, gender equality has been delivered.” I really hate to point this out, but that isn’t gender equality, merely role reversal, and it isn’t anything but a female power fantasy, the same as old school fantasy was all about male power fantasies. I mean, this is the twenty-first century, and our gender equality is a woman rescuing a male prostitute from the whorehouse and marrying him – because he is so good in bed? Or, maybe, it is a female head of household with a mustache, smoking a pipe, and ordering everyone around while her husband isn’t referred to at all – except as a sperm donor? Perhaps, it is another female who is betting on whether – she can get a certain man in bed? Or the female warriors being more skilled, more deadly, more clever, more everything than their male counterparts – even their so called equals? It goes on and on. Yay, fantasy gender equality. Ain’t it so original. Just change “he” to “she” in any story, and it is now gender equal, because our hero is Ricki Rahl, not Richard Rahl! Fifth, the world building turned into a hodgepodge of real world cultures pieced together rather than a new, fresh world. Every culture in this book can be easily matched with its real world counterpart. The Burnished Chain and its Black Pope are so clearly a fantasy version of the Catholic Church and the Pope that it isn’t really funny. One country has Korean names and a Korean culture. Another has Indian names and Indian cultural references. It goes on and on. Some reviewers have labeled this tendency by Alex Marshall to just pick up and place real world cultures into the story without modifying them at all (except for gender equality and diversity modifications, of course) a “linguistic short-cut” to allow the author to have full grown and familiar cultures without having to bog a reader down in world building, and I can understand that, but I don’t like it. I have had issues with Glen Cook doing this same thing in his Instrumentalities of the Night series, which is so clearly thirteenth century Europe that it almost reads like historical fiction, and if I’m not willing to let my favorite fantasy author get away with it, I’m not overlooking this tendency by pseudonym Alex Marshall. Sixth, diversity. I always get bashed, insulted, and generally trolled for pointing this out, but diversity means that lots of different lifestyles are portrayed in a story. That is diversity. Saying a story is diverse when every character is a bisexual and is promiscuous is like arguing that Lord of the Rings was diverse when every single person in the story is a heterosexual in a married relationship. It just isn’t true, and it is downright silly for you to argue that it is. And, unfortunately, Alex Marshall chose to follow the current discriminatory pattern of non-diversity by filling this tale with gender-swapped house-husbands, mustached female husbands, overpowered female warriors, weak and stupid men, and a world where every single person whose sexual preference is mentioned is bisexual. Guess that is our current excepted form of diversity: no heteros. Damn, seems eerily similar to years ago when no one could be homosexual in a fantasy, doesn’t it? Seventh, the ending left me underwhelmed. I’m struggling to find the right words without giving away spoilers, so with that in mind, I’ll merely say the conclusion was rather stale and blah. The buildup to the confrontation wasn’t especially riveting; I wasn’t given any reason to care which side won; the foreshadowing for the first big “WOW!” moment (Oh, yes, there are two.) didn’t peak my interest very much; and when the characters were in danger, I didn’t care if they lived or died, because I’d been given no reason to like them. Even the second big “WOW!” moment, which was suppose to set up the next book, was fairly ho-hum. Honestly, this novel is a real paradox to me. It is a story which I enjoyed immensely at the beginning, comparing it favorably to George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, then gradually lost patience with as it grew less and less compelling until now (after several weeks of mulling it over before writing this review) I’m struggle to find more than one good quality (The prose is wonderful.) to praise. Weird, I know. I feel the exact same way. But that is exactly where I find myself. So, as for the question of whether you should give A Crown for Cold Silver a try, all I can suggest is you read lots of reviews (both good and bad) and make an educated decision based on what you enjoy reading, because, as I type this, I have no idea if I will continue with this series or not. Take that for what it is worth.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    Looking for the next big fat epic fantasy? 'A Crown For Cold Silver' just might fit the bill. It looks like 'Alex Marshall' is a pseudonym, so I'm not sure if this is actually a debut - if it is, it's a very good one. Twenty years ago, the revolutionary warrior Zosia, known as Cold Cobalt, with the help of her Five Villains, managed to engineer a coup and install herself as Queen of the Crimson Empire. However, Zosia was better at fighting than ruling. Her idealistic plans for social reform and Looking for the next big fat epic fantasy? 'A Crown For Cold Silver' just might fit the bill. It looks like 'Alex Marshall' is a pseudonym, so I'm not sure if this is actually a debut - if it is, it's a very good one. Twenty years ago, the revolutionary warrior Zosia, known as Cold Cobalt, with the help of her Five Villains, managed to engineer a coup and install herself as Queen of the Crimson Empire. However, Zosia was better at fighting than ruling. Her idealistic plans for social reform and justice failed, and her reign was short-lived. In the two decades since, the state of the Empire has not improved. The current Queen shares power with the Black Pope, leader of the religion of the Burnished Chain - who have been gaining in influence. The citizenry have taken to graffiti proclaiming the heresy that 'Zosia Lives' - in their hearts, if not in truth. However, the rumor that Zosia might be alive in truth, and gathering another army, is spreading - and these rumors attract the attention of the now-aging warriors who once were known as the Five Villains. In many ways, this is a very traditional fantasy. It's got sorcerers, barbarians, warriors, royalty, demons... it follows the collecting-of-an-ensemble of characters and progressing through intrigue to a rip-roaring climactic battle. However, it also has a good number of original details, and the characters are far from stock... they're engaging and entertaining, and really shine as individuals, even though the large cast means this is more of a 'tapestry' than a character study. One thing I enjoyed about the book was its presumption of total gender equality. Lately, there's been a deal of criticism leveled against some fantasy authors for hewing too closely to the prejudices of the past. In a way, I think this book was an experiment to do traditional fantasy without any of that. There are quite a few different cultures portrayed in the book. I feel that one of the weaknesses of the book may be that although there is no parallelism with our (Earth's) history or geography, the author uses linguistic 'short-cuts' to evoke the cultures rather than actually describing them. For example, one society uses Korean-style names, while another sounds like India. I would have preferred more fully realized, original backgrounds for the characters. The author may have been trying to show that you can be 'India'-ish, for example, without including the prejudices of India's history - but I'm not sure that aspect worked all that well. However, I did like the total mix-up of normally gender-associated character traits. Here, you won't find any girls who wish to be pirates donning boys' clothes and running away. You won't find any women struggling to prove themselves in a man's world. No tribes of Amazons. No gender-swapped kept house-husbands. The book is not ABOUT gender at all. It's about individuals, in a world where gender (and sexual preference) just isn't an issue (except, well, as it affects individuals on a personal level.) And at that, it's wholly successful. I'm not saying that every fantasy book should do this - far from it. But it should be an option, and this one felt fresh and interesting. My only other complaint would be that at times it did drag a little bit. It's a long book, and there were a few spots where it *felt* long. But at no point did I consider stopping! The book ends - not on a cliffhanger, but with plenty of more story to come. I'd definitely read any forthcoming sequels. Many thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

    This was a really fun read in the vein of Joe Abercrombie, or Richard Morgan. A great set of characters and interesting world building follows the journey of a legendary general who tried to "get out" and gets pulled back in. It's VERY long and definitely requires commitment, but if you like being able to crush large insects with your epic fantasy, this is a good edgy-dark addition to the genre. Looking forward to the next one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kaora

    Once every other individual responsible for this travesty has been dealt with, after every single one of them has been paid a visit, then I'll find you, whenever you go, wherever you hide, and I will deal with you at my leisure. Twenty years ago a woman named Cobalt Zosia led her five captains and her army, toppling an empire only to be defeated in a duel and thrown to her "death". After disappearing suddenly her peace is broken, when a rogue army destroys her village and she barely escapes with Once every other individual responsible for this travesty has been dealt with, after every single one of them has been paid a visit, then I'll find you, whenever you go, wherever you hide, and I will deal with you at my leisure. Twenty years ago a woman named Cobalt Zosia led her five captains and her army, toppling an empire only to be defeated in a duel and thrown to her "death". After disappearing suddenly her peace is broken, when a rogue army destroys her village and she barely escapes with her life. Swearing revenge, she returns from the grave to gather her Cobalt Company once again to seek retribution. This one was tough to get in to. I found myself reading it only when I was in the mood for a book that made me think. The author spares no detail, and has built a rich world that occasionally found my eyes glazing over. When that happened I took a little break and came back to it. The main character definitely helped. It is so rare to see such a strong woman as the protagonist in a fantasy novel. She was well developed, and it was refreshing to see her internal struggle with her actions. How many more poor fools who bought into her myth would die with idiot grins on their faces, in war or crueler deaths, believing they martyred themselves for something other than a selfish woman's ambition, her conviction that she alone knew what the world deserved? I didn't always agree with what she did, but she did it often with such style. This is a book that doesn't take itself too seriously, and I think the thing that kept me hooked despite the wordy paragraphs, was the dialogue. This author has mastered the witty banter. It has been a while since a fantasy novel made me actually laugh out loud (last time I remember was Joe Abercrombie's shit a letter line in The Heroes), but this book had me giggling at several instances with things such as the Battle of the Extended Pinky, and just jests at others' expense. Don't know if the boy and I really need to be sharing a trail with any shaman what calls himself 'The Touch'. I'll tell you straight, that's far too peculiar handle for my liking - not one for getting touched myself, as a rule. It's got to itch absorbing it though your treasure, but I expect Diggelby's long accustomed to that sensation in his knickers. Unfortunately the best parts don't translate until you've read the book (I already tried explaining on particularly humorous part to my husband's blank stare), so if you don't mind a book that takes a bit of effort I highly recommend you give this a shot. Cross posted at Kaora's Corner.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    So, a middle aged female Heavy Metal Rocker comes out of early retirement and decides to Bring Back The Band. She wants to Tear The House Down, with a passion and verve that seems very unlikely for a woman of her age... or so everyone thinks. The stage is set, a bunch of aging rockers fill the stage, but there's a twist: the auditorium had come for a Christian Rock Band with obvious religious tones. The battle commences! This is what the story IS, assuming there's no actual music involved. The mi So, a middle aged female Heavy Metal Rocker comes out of early retirement and decides to Bring Back The Band. She wants to Tear The House Down, with a passion and verve that seems very unlikely for a woman of her age... or so everyone thinks. The stage is set, a bunch of aging rockers fill the stage, but there's a twist: the auditorium had come for a Christian Rock Band with obvious religious tones. The battle commences! This is what the story IS, assuming there's no actual music involved. The middle-aged kick-butt woman, Zosai, is actually an accomplished warrior who had brought a kingdom to its knees, dropped out of the scene to live the quiet life, only to be Brought Back In when all her loved ones get massacred. She gets her old generals, who all think her dead, and take on the world. Pretty standard fare, all told, except for the little hooks that make this epic fantasy stand out. Namely, the age and sex of the protagonist. I like her almost as well as I liked Chrisjen Avasarala from the in the Expanse series. She's a strong female protagonist who happens to be a bit more realistic than the legions of YOUNG and strong protagonists littering the battlefield. The second bit of goodness that makes the book stand out is the insistence that a person's sex means squat. In that respect, it's very D&D. Everyone lives lives, has sex, goes to war or makes families. There are no cultural restrictions. This is obviously on purpose. Gay or Straight is meaningless except on a personal basis. No one is looked down upon or forced to be anything they don't to be... unless you're talking about religious persecution, and the self-flagellating religious nuts under the rule of the Empire are pretty crazy. Other than these little tidbits, the novel is pretty standard fare for epic fantasy. It's long, there's lots of conversation and bickering and flirting between the band members, there's a lot of confusion on both sides of the war, and the epic battle is decent. It's better than older style fantasy, but pretty average for the modern stuff. I wanted to like it more. Perhaps I'll enjoy it even more as it progresses further. It's certainly competent. I just think it needs to stand out more. The characters are fine and fun. The action is good, when it happens. Perhaps I want more plot. I don't know. It IS hard to review it because what I think it needs seems to elude me. I feel like it's missing "something". Regardless, I'm quite happy to have read it. Now on to other matters. Alex Marshall is a pseudonym for "an acclaimed author in another genre". As of this writing, I have not figured out who it is, except that it is probably someone in the Orbit brand of books who wanted to see if they could break successfully into the Epic Fantasy genre. It is rather annoying, because now I want to read the author's other works and see how much of a stretch and change in style is happening here. The curiosity could, very likely, kill me. Let's see how long I survive! ;) Thanks, Netgalley

  7. 5 out of 5

    Camly Nguyen

    DNF 33% I can't do this anymore. Reading the everyday life of a handicapped snail would be faster than this. Hell, even reading The Lies of Locke Lamora would be faster than this shit. Summary: When Zosia's whole village is murdered by Captain Hjortt and his team, she kills them singlehandedly and runs away to seek revenge. But Zosia's isn't the strong and powerful lady she was twenty years ago. During those years, she has married and abdicated her place on the throne and stopped her training. Al DNF 33% I can't do this anymore. Reading the everyday life of a handicapped snail would be faster than this. Hell, even reading The Lies of Locke Lamora would be faster than this shit. Summary: When Zosia's whole village is murdered by Captain Hjortt and his team, she kills them singlehandedly and runs away to seek revenge. But Zosia's isn't the strong and powerful lady she was twenty years ago. During those years, she has married and abdicated her place on the throne and stopped her training. Although now, she's old and her friends are all scattered around the globe, she is still determined to find them again to hunt down those who sent Captain Hjortt and kill them to bring justice to those who died in the massacre. Ok. On to the problems... For starters, you can't just present to us a character in the beginning of the story, not talk about him for a third of the book and then randomly shove him back in like nothing happenned. Like dude, is that supposed to make me care about him? Because I don't. Then, there's the writing and the plot. Absolutely horrible. Both of them. The story's so slow and boring there was nothing going on by 20%. I skimmed through the rest in the hopes that something big will come up, but that just didn't happen. The writing is one of the most monotonous ones that I've read in my life. We know very little about the world. The characters are too simple for me. Nah. Stay away from this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    So yeah. I went into this warily. A lot of ~mercenary fantasy~ nowadays is so try-hard and often fails to be casually humorous/clever and blithely bloody. Well...my wariness was completely unjustified. I had as swell a time reading this as I did any of the early Black Company volumes or God's War or Best Served Cold. The world-building could have been done lazily and I still would have enjoyed this for the characters and dialogue. The world-building, however, was also pretty damn awesome. Some f So yeah. I went into this warily. A lot of ~mercenary fantasy~ nowadays is so try-hard and often fails to be casually humorous/clever and blithely bloody. Well...my wariness was completely unjustified. I had as swell a time reading this as I did any of the early Black Company volumes or God's War or Best Served Cold. The world-building could have been done lazily and I still would have enjoyed this for the characters and dialogue. The world-building, however, was also pretty damn awesome. Some familiar concepts, but also a lot of new ones. The Wildborn (a race w generally human characteristics but with a variety of animal features like horns or forked tongues), some flipped-on-its-head Satanism as the main imperial religion (inverted crosses used as religious symbols and a Black Pope and the Fallen Mother FANTASTIC), arranged same-sex political marriages with the use of surrogates, genderfluid nobles, a 50 year-old bisexual female anti-hero protagonist and a couple of multi-dimensional female "villains". And that's just half the stuff I wanted to list. Still plenty of interesting questions rolling around after I finished the last page and I can't wait for the next book. Anyways, I have no idea how this hasn't been on more HIGHLY ANTICIPATED FANTASY BOOKS OF 2015 lists, but as soon as more review copies drop, it should be. So. Damn. Good.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alex Ristea

    It feels weird giving three stars to a book I didn't finish, but let me explain... A Crown for Cold Silver is a grimdark book that doesn't take itself too seriously. Think more along the lines of Nicomo Cosca than Eddard Stark. It's often funny and constantly plays with your expectations. The good news is that it has excellent female representation and agency. I wouldn't say it's a hardcore feminist book, but it does a lot better in this regard than most fantasy on the market. It reminds me of Kam It feels weird giving three stars to a book I didn't finish, but let me explain... A Crown for Cold Silver is a grimdark book that doesn't take itself too seriously. Think more along the lines of Nicomo Cosca than Eddard Stark. It's often funny and constantly plays with your expectations. The good news is that it has excellent female representation and agency. I wouldn't say it's a hardcore feminist book, but it does a lot better in this regard than most fantasy on the market. It reminds me of Kameron Hurley, but with a softer edge. The other sort of good news is that there is trope inversion aplenty here...but unfortunately it's to the detriment of the overall story. Look. Tropes are not always the enemy. Sure, they can get tiring, and some have no place in the 21st century, but tropes also help readers establish familiarity and draw them into the story. Don't abuse them, but they are still a useful tool. If you try and tackle everything at once, you risk losing readers by creating a world too disconnected from our own. That's what ended up happening here. The novelty wore off, the kitchen sink feeling set in, and I realized that it no longer became compelling reading. I want you to try this book since I think it'll be important in the overall 2015 landscape of fantasy fiction. Let's discuss.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    Famed General Cobalt Zosia led her army into battle and overthrew an empire twenty years ago. Once there was nothing else to accomplish or conquer, she retired and faded into legend. Now Zosia's husband and village were destroyed for no reason. She heads out to avenge her loved ones. A Crown for Cold Silver quickly proved it was not a book for me. The writing style felt dull and uninspired. The characters were hardly believable and I didn't have any clue of what was happening in the world. I enjoy Famed General Cobalt Zosia led her army into battle and overthrew an empire twenty years ago. Once there was nothing else to accomplish or conquer, she retired and faded into legend. Now Zosia's husband and village were destroyed for no reason. She heads out to avenge her loved ones. A Crown for Cold Silver quickly proved it was not a book for me. The writing style felt dull and uninspired. The characters were hardly believable and I didn't have any clue of what was happening in the world. I enjoy books where I can connect and relate with the characters, but such characters were absent for me. I unfortunately didn't find any aspect of the book that caught my interest. The name choices were strange as well and I found myself guessing at how the majority of them were pronounced. 1 out of 5 stars I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Django Wexler

    Got an early read of this thanks to the generous people at Orbit, and it's great. Dark, funny, brutal. Very much recommended.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Crazy.. familiar yet so different.. very fun read.. full review to come.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kris43

    right.... needed a few days so my impressions settle a bit. i was overwhelmed by the end of this. good kind of overwhelmed. i was awed:) it blew my mind:)) you can read for your self what this book is about, im going to talk more about some of the happy thoughts it gave me. itty bitty spider sitting by the door, and a colorful centipede crawling on the floor and a scorpion who got there by accident. i can guarantee you if you read the book, you'll understand and your never see bugs in the same lig right.... needed a few days so my impressions settle a bit. i was overwhelmed by the end of this. good kind of overwhelmed. i was awed:) it blew my mind:)) you can read for your self what this book is about, im going to talk more about some of the happy thoughts it gave me. itty bitty spider sitting by the door, and a colorful centipede crawling on the floor and a scorpion who got there by accident. i can guarantee you if you read the book, you'll understand and your never see bugs in the same light. aside from that, there is magic lots of it, and Gods and monsters devils and the first dark from where it all came from. and where we all are destined to return. and a dog that is a dog but not a dog. more like a hell hound. and the gates that tie it all up, from where evil things lurk:) love this world and magic system, very unique and intriguing. wait until you see what kind of merlin/gandalf they have. you'll cry. but what you'll need more than anything else is patience. this a loooong ass book that moves slowly and if you give it a fair chance it will entrance you and paint a complex and deep world full of wonders both beautiful and horrific. at its core its more about the journey than a destination. and its deliciously dark. it reminded my why i love fantasy:)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    OH. MY. GODDDDDD.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    There may be a lot to keep track of, but I love the "attitude" or tone of this book. Some great humor through out. Full Review to come.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Fantasy Review Barn Sure, you hear it all the time. ‘Trope bending’ fantasy, as if just the act of bending tropes is noticeable and hasn’t been done almost since any kind of trend in fantasy was noticed. I am guilty of it. I enjoy a fresh take on an old tale after all. So I will forgive you if you roll your eyes as I go on about yet another ‘trope bending’ fantasy. “I don’t care,” you may be saying. “I just want to know if A Crown for Cold Silver is a good book. The answer to that is unequivocal Fantasy Review Barn Sure, you hear it all the time. ‘Trope bending’ fantasy, as if just the act of bending tropes is noticeable and hasn’t been done almost since any kind of trend in fantasy was noticed. I am guilty of it. I enjoy a fresh take on an old tale after all. So I will forgive you if you roll your eyes as I go on about yet another ‘trope bending’ fantasy. “I don’t care,” you may be saying. “I just want to know if A Crown for Cold Silver is a good book. The answer to that is unequivocally yes. “It was all going so nicely, right up until the massacre.” No hiding the basics of the plot here; sometimes someone fucks with the wrong person. It ought to be the first rule of fantasy; when an old woman with her old dog have no fear when soldiers take over her town then perhaps someone should ask why. Would have made this a much shorter book through, so a brash young man makes a big mistake and pays for it. And now Cold Zosia, who together with her ‘five villains’ once led an army that took over a continent, is well and truly pissed and looking for revenge. She leaves the village she had been hiding in and sets off with her ‘faithful hound,’ Choplicker. A dog worth keeping your eye on. Slowly the five villains are met; separately living very different lives since their leader supposedly died in a duel for her hard fought crown. A couple seem content to live hiding in plain sight and enjoying riches. One is trying to fight back from nasty addictions. And the last two never stopped playing power games. Zosia starts her search with the easiest to find and, as is bound to happen, slowly reunites with them all. Along the way she finds betrayals, false betrayals, and a rumor that she is out rebuilding her army before she even knows her own plans. From there the story expands, a world and its recent history built into one book as strong as I have seen recently. Do you get tired of false world building as I often do? Name of places dropped, strange fauna mentioned but never seen, religious cults that are nothing more than a quick side story? It is a relief to read a book and realize that I am glad I marked a reference several chapters back because that info suddenly matters. Mysterious sunken lands have a strong probability of mattering soon, all the religious schisms are going to affect the upcoming war, and the land’s balance of rule between the Crimson Queen and the Black Pope of the Fallen Mother can’t last. Watch close and take good notes gentle readers. “He loved his regiment, because they had earned his love damn it, even that fellow there picking his nose as he sat on a hogshead. Go on lad, mind all the silver ye may; you’ve earned it!” A Crown for Cold Silver is a book that embraces the darker side of fantasy. A tone of inevitable defeat is often present, though not as bleak as some. There is a possibility of hope, but never a promise of a happy ending. Through all the blood and betrayal cuts a wicked sense of humor, usually at inopportune times. Is it a breakdown of grimdark or a continuation of what has made it popular? Probably a bit of both. A mold the book doesn’t break away from is the inclusion of over the top characters. Zosia is an old lady when this book starts, her glory days well behind her. But her mind is still sharp and she has a hidden trump that keeps her a bit (well, a LOT) more physically fit that people expect. Each of the villains stands out, though it is former addict Morato that gets the most page time. His deep love of Zosia is tragic, even if it is quite unhealthy. Some of the most interesting ‘what ifs’ come from a mistake he thinks he made in the depths of addiction; that mistake’s role in all that is to come is unknown but haunts him anyway. And the wizard Hoartrap? Keep your eye on him. For one he is going to play an important role in what is to come, but mostly he is just really damn entertaining. “Her once waxy mustache had finally been tamed.” Tropes can be played with in different ways. Expect plenty of comparisons to Joe Abercrombie and consider them apt; at least when it comes to humor and over the top characters. The First Law took all the clichés that came from the Tolkien knock offs and turned them over; quests to nowhere, mentors turned bad, etc. Marshall on the other hand twisted around a common setting and kept it complete recognizable, yet slightly different. Homosexual arraigned marriages, a man caught in the classic ‘bet on who beds the new person’ trope or a woman’s mustache are not important at all. In fact they don’t warrant a second of speculation. They are just the facts of the land in an otherwise properly grimdark land of low hope. With such depth of setting the book started off at a slower pace and a couple of the character’s had chapters that did nothing to alieve this. The villains were unique but I felt shorted at the lack of coverage some of the more interesting ones got. Of course it should be obvious but when dealing with people as over the top as those present one shouldn’t expect much subtlety or inner depths; leading to a bit of predictability in some action. These are things I point out because I notice them, but not a single one of them messed with my enjoyment of the book. This is the type of book that demands a reread each time a new entry into the series comes out. Surprising depth in the setting for what looks to be a simple revenge tale, escalating events that will take things to a whole new level, and characters I want to know everything about. Sometimes a book is worth they hype. 4 Stars Copy for review provided by the publisher.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    I've picked up this book three different times and tried to read it. It just doesn't catch my attention. DNF no rating.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kurestin

    The beginning 75% of this book was AMAZING. It would build up to so many tropes that annoy me in this type of "veterans come back for revenge" fantasy, and then totally demolish them in a way that was extremely enjoyable to read. The characters were lively and genuinely fun to follow, and the world just feels fantastically built. I'm interested in their past, their future, and even in what happened thousands of years ago to lead up to this point. The main character (well, it's very much an ensem The beginning 75% of this book was AMAZING. It would build up to so many tropes that annoy me in this type of "veterans come back for revenge" fantasy, and then totally demolish them in a way that was extremely enjoyable to read. The characters were lively and genuinely fun to follow, and the world just feels fantastically built. I'm interested in their past, their future, and even in what happened thousands of years ago to lead up to this point. The main character (well, it's very much an ensemble book, but their leader) is a 50 (?) year old woman with a demon dog, ready to come back and kick ass. Queerness is spread throughout the world without a problem, with several main characters expressing attraction to men and women and whatever hot young thing comes their way, without it even being condemned or raising an eyebrow. Honestly, there's so much to love! The ending was less exciting. I'm still interested in what comes in the next book (and who the author really is!), but I wasn't left dying to get my hands on the sequel right this second. I feel like I could wait, and be happy whenever it comes out. I still highly recommend it for anyone who likes to have queerness normalized in their fantasy world, and enjoys seeing subverted tropes in general.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liviu

    very boring and uninteresting beginning which tries to imitate Joe Abercrombie so much that it reads like a parody - browsing ahead, looks to get better, so will see but the book is far from the hype read more here and there and then the ending and nothing hooked me so I doubt I will try again or read more in this series; I see what the author wants to do but the prose/characters just did not work for me

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    You know what, I am not really sure why this one didn't work for me, but something about the format and the way the story was going just didn't keep me interested so I am DNF-ing this at about 40%. I audiobook-ed this so I could attribute my disdain for ti to that, but honestly I don't know if it would have worked any better as a written book. This story starts off following a young nobleman as he goes to a town and commits a massacre. He's quickly put in his place by the Mayoress of this town wh You know what, I am not really sure why this one didn't work for me, but something about the format and the way the story was going just didn't keep me interested so I am DNF-ing this at about 40%. I audiobook-ed this so I could attribute my disdain for ti to that, but honestly I don't know if it would have worked any better as a written book. This story starts off following a young nobleman as he goes to a town and commits a massacre. He's quickly put in his place by the Mayoress of this town who, it turns out, has got rather an interesting backstory, and from that point onwards we follow Zosia as one of our key characters. Alongside Zosia we meet Princess Gi Yong Bong (sp?), Sullen, Moroto, and quite a few others. Each of them has their own story threads and of course as the story goes more and more of them intersect. Personally, I liked Sullen probably the best of the characters. He is a young man who it is believed is touched by devils. He has always been shunned for this by his clan, and he is mostly in the company of his mother and crotchety old grandfather. I think I liked him because he was one of the more human and believably sympathetic characters. His plot felt familiar and yet he was a character I was curious enough to want to know more about. Alongside the characters I mentioned above we have Portalay (sp?) who is some sort of witch character and is entangled in quite a few hierarchies and mysteries. I don't feel like I ever really got to know her, but her story was again intriguing and I found her quite a solid character at first. There is magic in this story, and we see hints of it in the form of demon characters (Zorsia has one called Choplicker) who accompany their humans in the world. Although this had potential I didn't feel like I really got to the crux of things and I wish there had been more explanation and example. Things I found quite irritating: - although the characters were interesting at first I found I was quickly bored by them and I couldn't really connect with any of them. I really struggled to actually root for anyone and I found the sheer number of side characters to be a bit too much. - the slow pace of the book was mind-numbing. I literally could not drag myself through quickly and I just felt that I was getting a bit bored of hearing people talking and not much action. There was a very dramatic start and then I feel like in the middle it just suddenly all slowed down. Overall, I just didn't enjoy this enough to spend more time on it. I went into it hoping it would be for me, but came away feeling frustrated that I didn't enjoy it. I didn't rate this as I DNF-ed but it wouldn't have got higher than a 2*s at the rate it was going...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    An older woman as one of the main POVs, I did like that. Older women can kick ass in fantasy too, and with older I do mean oooolder. Not not 30s, oooolder. A former rebel, villain, general, queen..hey now I am thinking of Xena, if she has stopped while she was on top and faked her death. And married and lived the small village life. But for all those cool things I did not particularly like Zosia, because, well I just did not. I did not dislike her either Then there was this princess who went all t An older woman as one of the main POVs, I did like that. Older women can kick ass in fantasy too, and with older I do mean oooolder. Not not 30s, oooolder. A former rebel, villain, general, queen..hey now I am thinking of Xena, if she has stopped while she was on top and faked her death. And married and lived the small village life. But for all those cool things I did not particularly like Zosia, because, well I just did not. I did not dislike her either Then there was this princess who went all this land is mine. Well kudos to you, bring them down. But I never felt like I knew her or cared. The church just seemed evil for the sake of being a church. The queen, why was she bad? Maybe I missed that while skimming. There was some kind of horned wolf guy, never got that or why he was there. I really tried, I thought of my rules, but this was a NG book, and it was fantasy, and I really wanted it to work for me. But...I felt nothing, I was bored, nothing happened, maybe it tried too much. It was not for me, so I skimmed the rest cos I had no other book anyway where I was.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    Full review on my blog, Total Inability To Connect. Hardcover provided by Orbit for review purposes - thanks Orbit! You know the way to my heart is hardcover books :) A Crown for Cold Silver is the first book in a new series by Alex Marshall, an 'acclaimed author who has previously published several novels in different genres' but is now operating under a pseudonym. A little of the KJ Parker/Tom Holt situation. Crown is a schizophrenic novel - it's all over the place, not really sure what it wants Full review on my blog, Total Inability To Connect. Hardcover provided by Orbit for review purposes - thanks Orbit! You know the way to my heart is hardcover books :) A Crown for Cold Silver is the first book in a new series by Alex Marshall, an 'acclaimed author who has previously published several novels in different genres' but is now operating under a pseudonym. A little of the KJ Parker/Tom Holt situation. Crown is a schizophrenic novel - it's all over the place, not really sure what it wants to be, not really sure how to execute its desires. It took me a couple weeks to finish, and I'm glad I've waited almost 24 hours to write this review after finishing; the retrospective time has let me consider my notes, consider a lot of what I thought about the book, and consider how certain elements cleverly made me forget about some of the negatives. I'm going to try and do a quick plot summary here, but bear with me - this book is long, has a bazillion different storylines, and sometimes they get a bit confusing. Cobalt Zosia was the badass leader of a mercenary army, and along with her five 'villain' leaders, fought across the countryside, with aspirations of overthrowing the tyrannical government and free the common folk and etc etc etc. They succeeded, leaving Zosia as queen, which is a position she soon finds herself unsuited for, as it interrupts her...badassery or whatever, with menial leadership tasks. As she struggles to implement the populace-friendly policies she quested for, she eventually loses interests, and puts her crown on the line in a duel, for which she 'loses', and disappears. Years later, soldiers turn up at a remote village and go all scorched earth on it, for unknown reasons. The lone survivor is a wily woman who, shocking spoiler, turns out to be Zosia, although you don't know that at the time. She swears revenge and sets out on a quest to find her scattered friends from her previous exploits. This sounds like something you've heard before, right? Albeit with different pieces maybe. And while Zosia is set up as the most important character by the book blurb and most reviews, she frankly took a massive backseat to the plethora of side-characters that the book is full of. Several of Zosia's group of 'villains' have POV chapters; the most interesting of which is Maroto, who we meet as he's guiding a group of "dandies" through a hunting trip, suffering his way through their posh nature. Hoartrop is an aged wizard of sorts - or at least everyone treats him as such. Sullen and Grandfather are Maroto's nephew and father, who set out on a quest to track Maroto down and make him answer for deserting his wife and family after a battle. The list goes on - there's a member of the religion relevant to the area (pretty much blatantly Catholicism) who subscribes to a self-torture branch of penance. I could spend pages and pages, thousands of words describing all the various characters. There are a billion of them - which is part of the problem with this novel. You're thrown in headfirst, little real introduction, and before you know it, you're having to keep track of a handful of POVs, and a boatload of ancillary characters who actually matter to the story. It's similar to how I always hear the first book of Malazan, Gardens of the Moon, described. You're expected to pick things up quickly, and background details are only revealed very slowly as the story goes on. However, during this time, you're on the hook for keeping up with the happenings of a character cast equivalent to a circus-car. I place myself somewhere in the "middle" of readership, in that I enjoy my books having some complexity, and putting some of the onus on the reader to fill in holes with imagination, and figure things out. I don't, however, enjoy obtuse books that are all action, or have YA-quality characters. That said, this book had a lot of elements of a much 'simpler' book, while also being obnoxiously complicated and overworked. It's definitely possible to write a book with a ton of characters that is cohesive - A Song of Ice and Fire or Red Knight are examples of this. Marshall's book is not this way, unfortunately. What you're often left with is certain characters taking the limelight for pages and pages and pages, followed by finally getting back to one character, whom you have to try and remember where you last left them, or what their place in the entire story is. I felt like I needed a CSI-style suspect whiteboard to keep up with all the pieces. I texted my friend Tracy at least 2 or 3 times during the first 1/3 of the book, proclaiming to him that I just could not seem to keep up with the characters - not generally a HUGE problem for me. The worldbuilding is adequate, however it felt often like places and cultures were pulled directly off a normal world map, names changed, minor cultural changes (more on this later), and then thrown into the story. Names that were clearly Korean, Catholic, maybe Indian etc are prevalent pieces of the story, and feel more than a bit ripped off. The actual geographical locations tend to take a backseat to the characters, wars, drama, and creatures. Marshall has inserted a lot of elements into the story - some interesting, some crazy, some outlandish - that spruce things up quite a bit. A smorgasbord of made-up creatures are present, many presented during the early chapters, when Moroto is leading the dandy hunt. For example, the 'horned wolf' is a terrifying creature that hunts in packs and is incredibly deadly, however most people confuse it with a goat. Many reviews have hit on the topics of equality - gender, sexual, caste. This is an omnipresent theme in the book; almost every character seems to be openly bisexual, thinking about sex with both sexes constantly, talking about it, etc. One area has prevalent same-sex political marriages, multiple fathers, the list goes on. There are tons of powerful, strong women in the story, including many of the protagonists, which is great. Except when it's not. The book ends up in a bit of a "when everyone wins, no one does" situation. EVERY female character is a strong, masculine-type warrior of some sort, who is bisexual and does very strong things. Many of these female characters could VERY easily have been replaced with men, without changing ANYTHING other than their gender pronoun and some genital descriptions. Zosia is essentially a standard male character in many fantasy novels - thinking about having sex constantly, attempting to mate with nearly any female around her, constantly thinking about drinking or doing drugs, etc. It's awesome to have diversity in your novels. I praised the everliving crap out of NK Jemisin for the incredible diversity in her book The Fifth Season. I love to see viable, strong female characters in fantasy and sci-fi; hell, even novels just treating women as people. However, many of the 'strong females' in this novel are just caricatures of generic masculine males, except as females. In an attempt to make badass women, Marshall has made every woman a generic 'badass' in some way, whether it be the sagey Zosia, leader of the Cobalt Company, or the young princess who has been masquerading unofficially as Zosia, while trying constantly to prove how badass she is by sleeping with anyone she can, doing as many drugs as she can, or fighting anyone she can. The 'diversity' just came across as homogenized, and felt wholly unnatural - diversity ISN'T unnatural, that's how life is, there are a lot of different people, types of people, types of strengths. But they all felt kind of the same in Crown. I feel the need to stop at this point, call a 'timeout' if you will. I'm spiraling a bit into negativity, but this book was most definitely not all negative. Not by any means. The first thing that I need to say is that I enjoyed the hell out of Marshall's prose. It's not complicated, but is clearly professional. While some of the phrasing choices felt EXTREMELY modern (not direct quote, but at some point it was something along the lines of "Zosia was completely out of fucks to give"), I was very, very enamored with the lighthearted nature of the dialogue, especially in conjunction with some darker elements. Which is a great point of conversation - I'd seen a lot of reviews compare this novel to Joe Abercrombie. While I can see why people would say that, on the other hand, it's not even close. Abercrombie's prose and style are unmatched in my opinion; Marshall's novel certainly has some of the grit and "adult" themes of Abercrombie's. There's ample profanity, sex, drug use, violence. Which is great - it's right up my alley. As I mentioned, the dialogue was - most of the time - pretty great, and highly entertaining. People bickered with one another, dropped snappy one-liners, generally summed up how I imagine soldiers and the like would have spoken in these situations. I'm relatively sure I heard the phrase "It smelled like burning hair, and pungent semen" at one point, which made me nearly spit out my coffee. There were several lines like that which made me burst out laughing, or at the very least, put a smile on my face. The wit alone is one thing that kept me engaged with this novel. When things were dragging a bit, I always still found myself entertained by the dialogue and banter, by the funny descriptions and verbiage. It's not a secret that I like gritty, 'realistic' fantasy novels, and this fit the bill. On top of the witty writing, some of the drug use was very creative, and hilarious. Many characters, especially Maroto, use 'bugs', which are exactly what they sound like - bugs with psychoactive compounds. This lead to one of the funniest scenes and scenarios I've ever read, as Maroto took the wrong kind of worm before a battle, and ended up going through the battle while tripping balls. Hilarious. With that creativity and fun came some moments of brilliance, but also some quirks. As I mentioned above, the sexual freedom and openness was almost so omnipresent that it felt homogenized. There was also some odd obsessions, such as Zosia's ridiculous fascination with pipes and pipe carving, which seemed to come up at least once in every damn scene she was in. What began as a cool little character trait quickly became a repetitive, Nynaive-pulling-braids style annoyance. On the brilliance side was Marshall's introduction of devils - essentially they were bound familiars, who obeyed their masters until their masters, essentially, made deals with their devils, which would set the devils free. Several of the prominent characters had them, to interesting consequences. There were a lot of great ideas in the book - even if you subscribe to the school of thought that Marshall ripped a lot off from real life cultures or religions, how they were used and executed was often quite good. The repentant-religions character, Portoles, was extremely fascinating, even her strange BDSM-style self mutilation. Ultimately, the overall package lacked polish. It bogged down badly at times, and the book honestly could have easily been 100 pages shorter and still accomplished the same thing. The characters were too numerous and too confusing, and long periods would go in between chapters featuring some of them. The cultures and geography are a bit derivative, and some of the idiosyncrasies are overdone. The ending was a bit of a letdown - the novel just kind of...fizzled out. However, the writing itself is entertaining, lively, and funny at times; the dialogue was great, and really held the book up. There were long periods of the novel that I really enjoyed it, and it was honestly not until a day had passed and I had time to digest the book, read up on it a bit, and really reflect that I realized a lot of the pieces that annoyed me along the way. With the amount of negativity I wrote, it would come across as if this was a bad book - it's not. It's got a lot of problems, but it also has a lot going for it. Aside from some slow parts, it was ultimately quite entertaining, and a lot of fun. It could have used some really big editing, but in the end, I understand why a lot of people love it, and I also understand why a lot of people didn't. A lot of potential. Rating: 3.5 / 5

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie G

    3.5 Stars Zosia, once a famous general who led a rebel army against the Crimson Empire and won, traded the crown for her lover and a small village where she planned to live out the rest of her life. That is until her husband is beheaded by the Fifteenth’s Colonel. Zosia swears revenge and sets out (kind of) to find her famous five captains, known as villains, but instead discovers that another woman is raising her banners and claiming herself as Cobalt Zosia and is accompanied by her captains.   A 3.5 Stars Zosia, once a famous general who led a rebel army against the Crimson Empire and won, traded the crown for her lover and a small village where she planned to live out the rest of her life. That is until her husband is beheaded by the Fifteenth’s Colonel. Zosia swears revenge and sets out (kind of) to find her famous five captains, known as villains, but instead discovers that another woman is raising her banners and claiming herself as Cobalt Zosia and is accompanied by her captains.   A Crown for Cold Silver is a non-traditional epic fantasy. The book pops through essential characters heads and their exploits as the story and characters come together for a massive battle. I don’t know if this is my first book from Alex Marshall, that name is a pseudonym and while some authors play it loose with their pseudonyms, Marshall hasn’t given up the goose.   A Crown for Cold Silver has a lot of things going for it. The non-traditional setting: pseudo-countries, none of which I would call European, set it apart from the bulk of its counterparts. Sexuality doesn’t come with the boring standard and shame riddled mind set of our own culture but instead stands unoppressed. Most epic fantasy stands on the background of a great evil coming from a person or monster, and usually oppression of gender, magic abilities, and even sexuality comes into play. It was great to see this element taken out altogether and I go to show it can be done! These details are followed by an equally detailed world. One of Zosia’s captains is an old drug addict. Highs are produced from a bug’s bite or sting.   The Queen and Black Pope are in charge of the Crimson Empire. It seems as if there is a divide between the two and that the Black Pope is trying to raise something evil, magically? Maybe just trying out some tricks? Guess we’ll see. Either way she is using her monks/nuns to get things done, only this holy order isn’t human. They’re called many things in the book from wildborn to being accused of being half demons. Another character claims they are divine by nature: guess readers will find out.   All those details are great, but what didn’t work for me: the characters. While depth pours off the pages in an immaculate world, the characters lacked depth for this reader. They say smartass lines and get knocked and a ton of readers will love it because of that, but that doesn’t make a character. The characters are dry with little change, give, and growth. Because of the loss of character development a lot of their motivations fall flat making an already long book feel never ending.   The story: Zosia’s revenge isn’t what the plot develops into. It’s more about these characters not realizing how and why these events were set into motion and who is actually behind them. At the end of the novel readers are given steady ground to stand when it comes to plot, but it takes the whole novel. It also takes the whole novel to have a true battle. Even the battle was a little too late for this reader.   Yes, I did finish it. I finished it because this was a novel I wanted to love. It has everything I look for in epic fantasy: a great world and a female protagonist that is an all-out badass. Unfortunately I didn’t love it. The characters came off dry and the pacing stayed slow. The next book hasn’t been announced as far as I know, yet, and while I love this world it’s not enough. I think A Crown for Cold Silver shows what can be done and is well worth a look at. I hope to see more books like it in the future, only with more substance. - Elizabeth

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    A fun mix of Seven Samurai and Game of Thrones, 'A Crown for Cold Silver' will fill in nicely for fans waiting for George R.R. Martin. The ruthless bloodletting is here, but so is the impressive world building and the compelling characters. I loved the political and religious machinations that drive so many of the protagonists. Be warned, though, that this is harder fantasy: if you're not prepared for the scene where a Saruman/Gandalf character literally eats a demon, it may surprise you. Can't A fun mix of Seven Samurai and Game of Thrones, 'A Crown for Cold Silver' will fill in nicely for fans waiting for George R.R. Martin. The ruthless bloodletting is here, but so is the impressive world building and the compelling characters. I loved the political and religious machinations that drive so many of the protagonists. Be warned, though, that this is harder fantasy: if you're not prepared for the scene where a Saruman/Gandalf character literally eats a demon, it may surprise you. Can't wait for the second book though!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Why I abandoned it - in one sentence: Because life is too short to wait, and wait, and wait for the author to explain this world. I probably would have given it: two stars

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meave

    It's a great story! It just drags a bit, and when one of the big reveals came so late in the book that I realized the story wasn't going to finish in one volume, I got angry, because why does everything have to be a series? Can't anyone finish a story in one novel? I'm willing to read the next book, but if Alex Marshall Song of Ice and Fires me into reading like 50 books about these characters, where everyone starts out separated and finally come together in the last quarter only to have them al It's a great story! It just drags a bit, and when one of the big reveals came so late in the book that I realized the story wasn't going to finish in one volume, I got angry, because why does everything have to be a series? Can't anyone finish a story in one novel? I'm willing to read the next book, but if Alex Marshall Song of Ice and Fires me into reading like 50 books about these characters, where everyone starts out separated and finally come together in the last quarter only to have them all ripped apart immediately afterward, I will ... give up on reading them, eventually, I guess. (Also not looking forward to another book the length of this one plus the added catching-up exposition, which is my second most hated feature of series.) (The first most hated feature is that most can't justify their secondary novels.) (Obviously.) But it's good! It starts slow and gets baggy in sections (Papa Hjortt), but I liked it a lot.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A Crown for Cold Silver is a very different take in many way on the band of herpes makes good storyline! :D The books takes places decades after our heroes have completed and lost their conquests and the story starts off picking up were time has take them following these events! :D This of course provides plenty of opportunity for backstory and this is worked in throughout the books length giving us an insight how the characters themselves ended up in the position that they find themselves in as A Crown for Cold Silver is a very different take in many way on the band of herpes makes good storyline! :D The books takes places decades after our heroes have completed and lost their conquests and the story starts off picking up were time has take them following these events! :D This of course provides plenty of opportunity for backstory and this is worked in throughout the books length giving us an insight how the characters themselves ended up in the position that they find themselves in as well as how this has caused the situation they now find themselves in! :D The addition of a new generation of characters cutting their teeth on adventure as well also allows for a lot of generational humour! :D The characters are very three dimensional warts and all which also lends a tone to the book in which no one is necessarily perfect and itself lends itself to humour and action very well as you often find it hard to predict which way a character (very literally! :D ) will jump! :D The pace of the book is relentless with one action scene moving rabidly to another but always there is humour somewhere with every scene it seems which makes a great balance to a lot of the daring do that is taking place! :D Most shocking of all posher sides of society getting in the trenches which again turn the fantasy cliché on the head very well indeed! :D The world is also very heavily realised with each culture and area encountered having it own backstory and motivation and political shenanigans going on that make a very hot environment which causes many of the characters plans to go awry or be heavily modified which gives may of the scenes in the book a visceral feel as they encounter changing situations after another while stuck in the apparent middle of nowhere! :D The book very clearly at the end set things up at the end for others in the series and this becomes very apparent early on as the breadth of the story is huge and is clearly setting up at the very several arcs that at the end of the book are really only getting started but will have you really wanting to know what is happening and what it all means for the characters! :D Brilliant stuff ad highly recommended! :D

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    The plot for this book was creative. I liked the idea of the main character and her captains being older instead of very young. However, having said that, I, unfortunately, had a difficult time connecting with any of the characters. Perhaps if the story would have started at an earlier point in time, it would have been easier for me to do so. Or it could have been that the author changed points of view frequently, I didn't feel that I had the chance to really get to know Zosia better or even any The plot for this book was creative. I liked the idea of the main character and her captains being older instead of very young. However, having said that, I, unfortunately, had a difficult time connecting with any of the characters. Perhaps if the story would have started at an earlier point in time, it would have been easier for me to do so. Or it could have been that the author changed points of view frequently, I didn't feel that I had the chance to really get to know Zosia better or even any of her captains. If I had to choose a character that I liked more than others, I think it would have to be Choplicker simply because he's not what he seems in that he's not an ordinary dog or even a dog at all really. The action was great as well. I really enjoy books that don't gloss over those parts in the story or sugar coat them. Sword fighting and fighting with daggers is brutal and bloody business. This book did not sugar coat anything. That helped to score some extra points with me. Even though I liked those points which I mentioned above, I do have to say that I was somewhat confused throughout the book. That became frustrating for me. I almost put the book down, but I kept reading just to see if it got better and less confusing. It did not. While I did understand more by the time I finished there were still some things that remained confusing. Perhaps any future sequels will clarify things a bit more. But, because I finished the book, still a bit confused and frustrated I am giving the book three stars instead of four. My review can be found at www.wordgurgle.blogspot.com

  29. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Erikson and Hurley with Scalzi's prose style.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lila

    I have a lot of feelings and a lot to say about this book, but only half of that is tied to actual story. A Crown for Cold Silver was heavily promoted as second coming new epic fantasy that "pushes the boundaries". Not to tarnish its good sides in any way, but I am hung on that part simply because ACfCS is not a genre-bender I was promised I'll get. Let's get more specific: - the selling point of this novel is main character. A middle-aged, legendary female warrior on a quest for revenge. Admittedl I have a lot of feelings and a lot to say about this book, but only half of that is tied to actual story. A Crown for Cold Silver was heavily promoted as second coming new epic fantasy that "pushes the boundaries". Not to tarnish its good sides in any way, but I am hung on that part simply because ACfCS is not a genre-bender I was promised I'll get. Let's get more specific: - the selling point of this novel is main character. A middle-aged, legendary female warrior on a quest for revenge. Admittedly, older women as main characters in fantasy are rare to find (shout out to Ista from Bujold's Paladin of Souls ), so kudos for that. But here is the thing, it's not Zosia who's different, it's Marshall's setting. Being a strong, influential women in fantasy setting where women undoubtedly hold positions of power doesn't make Zosia a very special character- a very special female in novel. Being a fierce warrior in fantasy setting where women are highly trained in combat and where her gender isn't identified with weakness doesn't make her unique among cast of characters and make her stand out. Hence, I would give author more props for diverting outside of the box enough to create world without gender-perceived roles than for writing specifically Zosia the way she is written. I guess, what struck me is the fact that lack of gender-perceived roles is the ONLY thing different in this world comparing to traditional epic fantasy. Is it possible to write strong female character without creating a new world; without adjusting the whole world to the idea that women can be just as strong? Is diversity in main character dependable on diversity in setting? Interesting thing to ponder about. But, let's get back to "pushing boundaries" part. Did this setting blow my mind with originality on its take on gender? No. I read Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire few months ago and I definitely need more to top that. - This book is marketed as grimdark. The subgenre most often described by authors who are considered representative for it than by its characteristics. Ok, I'll give you that: this book ticks every grimdark box; it follows the formula so closely it actually became kind of quirky version of itself. While author tried to go for all that grim and dark, I was left with feeling that book simply doesn't take itself seriously, so I was not able to do it either. For example, I love bloodthirsty flora and fauna in my book just as everyone else, but "Godguana" is snort-worthy name for big lizard. Another thing that cracked me up are Sullen's chapters. So, Sullen is a Horned Wolf. Because he is a Wolf Clan, his chapters are filled with lines like these: "Horned Wolf’s life was split between the nameless pup that sat at a storyteller’s knee, enraptured by tales, and the adult who lived legends..." “Our ways are dead, child, ever since those toothless greypelts decided we should forsake our ancestors..." They’ve suckled at the Crimson teat all right, and liked the milk. A pup like you should be appalled at the depths of depravity a soul will sink to... Seriously, so much wolf related metaphors it became entertaining at certain point. :) No boundaries were pushed here either. -story kept my interest, but some chapters, or better said-certain povs- were completely pointless to me. Zosia's plan to revenge is consisted of tracking her legendary associates, Five Villains and gathering her army again. Zosia and one of Villains, Maroto, got a lot of page time, but the guy I find the most interesting (Hoartrop) unfortunately not enough. He has the best lines and he is the one whose voice was the most distinctive to me. That aside, I'll tell you what I liked about Zosia: novel starts with Zosia's husband being killed and her village being burned. Zosia's first reaction is to retaliate, but in her lone, quiet moments where the severity of that event hits her, her pain doesn't make her weak, it actually empowers her. I liked that. There is also very interesting concept with devils. But again, nothing new or never seen before. Correction: I didn't see one thing- I didn't see anywhere in blurb or in promo that this is only first book in series, so ending, or better said, lack of one, surprised me. ;) Marshall needs to step up their game in sequel- this is a good, solid read, but genre-bender it ain't. - Here comes not-story related part. I was interested in this book at first because premise was intriguing. Blurb says it's a debut work and I didn't give much thought to author. But, everywhere I looked for early reviews and Orbit's page I was informed that: Alex Marshall is a pseudonym for an acclaimed author who has previously published several novels in different genres. What a clever marketing gimmick! At 40% I was sure this evil marketing plan was created purely to aggravate me. I kept reading trying to figure out who it may be. I mean... it's very Abercrombie, or like Hurley lost a bet or something, but it's also similar to R. Scott Baker... (-_-) I was so annoyed because it was working. It managed to psych me completely. Marketing Overlords - 1 Lila - 0

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