SPFBO Review | Under a Colder Sun – Greg James

About the Book

A Grimdark Fantasy Adventure set in a world of Darkness and Chaos!

Khale the Wanderer: dark warrior of legend, a reaver with a demon’s soul.
King Alosse: ruler of Colm, willing to risk everything to save his city and its people.
Princess Milanda: an innocent, kept pure since birth, unknowing of her fate.
Neprokhodymh: the cursed city of sorcerers where Khale must make a choice that will scar him for life, or fall into darkness forever.

215 pages (Kindle)
Published on April 28, 2014
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent as part of the SPFBO.

I love dark characters. I absolutely dig the antihero, the guy who is in it for himself. It’s easy to love or hate him, and that’s what makes him so damn wonderful. Enter Khale. Now, Khale is basically the central focus of the entire book (or a majority of it, at least) so how you enjoy the book with be entirely dependent on how well you tolerate Khale.

Khale is dark, and rather amoral, he’s hard to get to know, and can come off as a bit one-note at times. His shadowed past is okay, but sometimes I wanted to know a bit more about what makes him who he is. Having an amoral, dark, somewhat repugnant human as a main character is okay. That’s not a dealbreaker, and for people like me, you lay out a character like that and I’m there with bells on. However, the nature of the beast is that readers will either love that sort of main character, or hate it, and the entire book will depend on which side of that line you stand on.

It’s a gamble.

There are other characters, and they all felt a bit one note to me, each had major characteristics that made them who they were. I think they were supposed to balance each other out – the innocent princess, the dark antihero, the dedicated protector of the princess. In a lot of ways, this worked, but like I said, all the characters fell a little flat to me. Not overly much, but the pastel colors are there at times. However, they did balance each other out nicely and add some different color to to the book.

This book is dark. That’s obvious from the first page. It’s really dark, and sometimes it felt a little too dark. It could have used a bit lighter to balance things out. The world is stark and bleak, the characters are dark as well, the plot is relentless and full of strain and worry. I wouldn’t have minded a bit of sunshine to peak through every now and again.

This is a fairly short book, and a really quick read. The pace is absolutely relentless, and unforgiving. Things happen quickly and there is no waiting for readers to catch up before the book is off and moving to the next adventure. It’s a lot of fun, and an obvious member of the grimdark fantasy genre. As someone who isn’t a big fan of grimdark, this one pleasantly surprised me. It has everything in it that makes it part of that genre, but it’s well done despite the few issues I have.

The world building left something to be desired. The world is more hinted at, and talked about. Very little is actually seen or felt. Things are hinted at, or stated, but I never really saw any of it. And all those little details I like in my books, the culture, social issues, vibrant history, traditions – none of that really existed in any real form here.

That illuminates the biggest problem I had with this book – so much is told rather than shown to readers. The world building was vague, at best, and I lamented that. I like the details. Hell, I love the details. I harp on details in just about every review. I want your world to come alive. I want to feel like I live in it, and I just didn’t with this one and I regretted that.

James is a great writer, and he had a way with painting scenes and situations to make them interesting when I least expected it. This book was surprisingly addicting, and while it did have its issues, I don’t really feel like they impeded my overall enjoyment very much. This is a dark book about dark characters in a dark world, and that will either bounce off readers, or thrill them. I do think it is worth picking this one up to see which side of the line you land on.

3/5 stars
6/10 SPFBO rating





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