mercredi 11 juin 2014

Shield and Crocus by Michael R Underwood


Built among the bones of a fallen giant, the city of Audec-Hal is home to five tyrants who dominate the various districts. Held under the tyrants thumb and afflicted with "Spark-storms", the people have only one hope - a small group of heroes who will do anything to reclaim their city from the criminals who control it. Led by First Sentinel, the Shields are the only resistance against the clutches of evil. But when they hear about a summit to cement the tyrants rule, the Shields realise that time is running out to take back their city once and for all...

I had such high hopes for Shield and Crocus. Set firmly in the same type of weird city as Ambergris or New Crobuzon, it seemed to have everything I like in fantasy - highly imaginative worldbuilding, an interesting magic system, heroes going up against seemingly insurmountable odds. While the worldbuilding was definitely a highlight - the idea of a city built in and around the bones of a felled Titan who fell from the sky is amazing and works really well - the book itself ended up being a disappointment. I had a lot of trouble connecting with the characters, a problem made worse by the fact that the writer constantly shifts the way he refers to them, sometimes using their 'real' names and sometimes their 'superhero' names. Because of that, what should have been thrilling often comes across as banal, and there was nothing in the characters or in the plot that truly caught my attention. This was extremely frustrating, since the world was so unique that I really wanted to see a unique story to go with it.

Shield and Crocus fits into a current trend in the SFF genre - what could be called superheropunk. We have a fantasy world but the main characters are basically the secondary equivalent of the X-men. As such, each person has an individual power, and yet the characters themselves kind of blurred together for me as I was reading. I found myself skimming through the pages as the story progressed - the writing didn't really grab me at all.

All in all, Shield and Crocus was a huge let-down. This has been done before, and better. If it hadn't been for the great world that has been created, I'm pretty sure this one would have been laid aside. As it is, I give Shield and Crocus 3 giant titan skulls out of 5, with one point given only for the worldbuilding.

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