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Quick Review: The Crystal Keep

Despite being published after it, The Crystal Keep takes place before Grim Work and some reviews also state that it’s better to start with it, so I did. Not that I expected much, in fact just having a quick look through what was available for free, searching for something that I could read quickly and finish before the end of the year, and deciding on it because it was shorter than the other two options I ended up with. But it did work out, being quite easy to read despite some paragraphs that struck me as being too long, and keeping me somewhat interested, without boring or annoying. It depicts only an adventure of a new chief of a barbarian clan, who rashly decides to take on a cult with only a few companions, but it does what it aims to do well enough, presenting the brutal struggle against overwhelming odds and not shying away from the graphic details.
It does tend to be too much for any reasonable suspension of disbelief, however, and I’m not just referring to the solid dose of hero’s luck. If the party would have been presented as having magical or otherwise supernatural abilities, it might have worked, but as it is, the level of fortitude, being able to keep fighting so well and for so long while just about ignoring all the injuries, the conditions, the lack of sustenance, is just too much. Fans of the genre would probably expect and enjoy this far more, and the action can definitely pull you along, but I found myself making a note that the story should have ended halfway through, badly, and what happened after that, starting with the trope of some of the bad guys discussing the plot for little reason other than to be overheard by the protagonists, made me feel a need to roll my eyes quite a number of times. And some of the crudeness, not to mention the single-minded lecherousness of one of the companions, did at times also go over the top.

Rating: 3/5


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