Here’s my usual disclaimer – I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. On to the review.
First off, I have to apologize that this review took so long to write this review. It should have been done quite a while ago. So, I was given a copy of The Crimson Claymore by Craig Price, Jr. a couple months ago, which made me happy because I love this classic sword and sorcery style fantasy novel. It starts off with Searon, a warrior with a special blade and a tragic past, on a one man mission to eradicate an evil species responsible for massive amounts of death and destruction in the world of Calthoria. He gets recruited by a wizard and runs into Starlyn, a member of the elusive kheshlars. Together they discover things are much worse than any of them thought.
My first like is that Price, Jr. captured the classic feeling of the old Dungeons & Dragons style fantasy novel I grew up with. Each character struck the right cords for the classic roles—wizard, “elf”, warrior, and the like. The world-building held the magic of a fantasy world where each “species” has their place and role. Even Price, Jr.’s language throughout the novel held that same feel.
Another thing I enjoyed about The Crimson Claymore is that Price, Jr. created a strong and believable female main character. Granted, she is not a human and therefore has a number of attributes not generally found in human beings, but these attributes were well balanced with limitations. He also creates the start of a nice developmental arc for her that does not need males to further her growth.
Finally, I loved the fact that Price, Jr. is so steeped in his world. He has clearly worked hard to create a thorough and detailed world and he knows it well. The different sentient species in his world are distinctly drawn and well developed. The physical features of the world were planned well and executed.
To me, this novel felt like it needed one more good editing pass. There were times were things felt too drawn out or repetitive. For example, fight scenes were well written in and of themselves, but as a reader I didn’t feel like I needed each character’s point of view of the entire fight every time. It seemed to bog down the momentum of the story at times.
Another thing I occasionally struggled with is there were spots in the story that felt sexist at times. For example, Searon pulls the stare at Starlyn’s chest thing to where she has to say something at one point. It bothers me that this kind of thing continues to be written into fantasy novels in a way that makes it seem normal and expected. It felt like it wasn’t necessary here and could have been done better.
Finally, there were spots in general that seemed to drag. Price, Jr. does an excellent job with his fight scenes and the overall build up to the climax of the novel, but it felt stilted and stuttering to me. The times in between didn’t always feel like they carried their weight in the story, which made it harder for me to stay in the story.
This is a cool classic sword and sorcery novel. There is a wonderful nostalgic feel coupled with good character and world building. I think these things are done well enough to balance out the things I struggled with in this novel. Overall a solid 3 stars – strong with some issues for me.