After the initial reading there are books that stand better against the passing of time than others. We gather experience with each passing day and with each new book we read so those first impressions would have difficulties in being seen from the same perspective. Of course, this implies that a reader returns to a certain book again and the new opinion is not based solely on the initial consideration of that book. For me, some of the novels that fared very well with the passing years are written by Brian Ruckley. I liked “The Godless World” trilogy a lot the first time I read it, but when I came back to read again a chapter or two from “Winterbirth”, “Bloodheir” or “Fall of Thanes” I noticed that my opinion of the series improved extensively. It is only a chapter or two, occasionally, since with so many new books published every week a re-reading of the entire “The Godless World” trilogy it’s unlikely for the time being. However, I do held my hopes high for such a thing to happen at some point in the future. Still, certainly not before the publication of Brian Ruckley’s new novel, “The Free”, released by Orbit Books next month. After “The Edinburgh Dead”, the author’s historical fantasy crime novel published in 2011, Brian Ruckley returns to heroic fantasy with this new novel. And at the first glimpse “The Free” is pretty standard, a mercenary company, a soldier with a haunting past and a last opportunity to redeem it, nothing spectacular in this sense. But I am more than certain that Brian Ruckley is up to the task of not turning “The Free” into one of many. After all, my experience with “The Godless World” trilogy, “The Edinburgh Dead” and one of my favorite sword-and-sorcery short stories, “Beyond the Reach of His Gods”, is completely satisfactory and so far I have no reason to believe that the one with “The Free” would be different. There is only one small shadow overcasting my good feelings for this upcoming novel and that is the cover artwork. I’ve seen plenty of similar covers on the market recently, but, from my point of view, this trend tends to be bland and disappointing. I do like the covers more expressive and even if it has a simple concept I love it more when it reflects something of the story contained within the book. But since the notorious advice is not to judge a book by its cover I am more than happy in this case to let the matter pass.
They are the most feared mercenary company the kingdom has ever known.
Led by Yulan, their charismatic captain, the Free have spent years selling their martial and magical skills to the highest bidder – winning countless victories that shook the foundations of the world. Now they finally plan to lay down their swords.
Yet when Yulan is offered a final contract, he cannot refuse – for the mission offers him the chance to erase the memories of the Free’s darkest hour, which have haunted him for years.
As The Free embark on their last mission, a potent mix of loyalty and vengeance is building to a storm. Freedom, it seems, carries a deadly price.