Paul Krueger’s Steel Crow Saga is exactly the kind of book I want to see a lot more of. It takes place in a handful of countries in fantasy not-Asia, where they’re all dealing in one way or another with the consequences of imperialism in ways that are complicated and messy in the way history is. And that really is what the book is about in important ways, with characters who are leaders of countries and members of rebel armies and the fate of nations at stake.
But it’s also a fun quest adventure where the characters include a stylish pipe-smoking detective, a streetwise wise-cracking thief, and they need to fight off mystical opponents with their own magical abilities and spirit companions, while their alliance turns from one of uneasy necessity into something deeper.
Which is to say, it’s everything you want out of trashy adventure fantasy, except also it manages to be about things in a way that trashy adventure fantasy usually isn’t. Krueger writes with style—Steven Brust might be the only writer who’s better at wise-cracking main characters—and I tore through this book about as fast as I could, reading in every spare moment.
Highly recommended. This is the kind of thing that would be actually ideal on an airplane, because I’d never put it aside for the duration of the flight; but it’s way too good to wait for travel to read. This is a complete story in one volume, but it’s not at all hard to imagine sequels. If there are some, I’m there day one.