Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams

There's nothing new under the sun. At least that's how it sometimes feels with regards to fantasy of the epic variety. However, Australia's prolific Sean Williams seems to genuinely scamper down untrodden roads in The Crooked Letter.

Set in the same world, as a prequel of sorts, as his previous young adult Book of The Change series, The Crooked Letter is a stark turn towards adult fantasy for Williams. In fact, the book is quite gritty, violent, and very much aimed at a mature audience.

Seth and Hadrian are twins that don't quite get along, but that does not seem to pose much of a problem, as Seth is murdered in cold blood in the very first chapter. But this is fantasy, after all, and so when Seth dies, his spirit passes over to a second realm of existence. The unique bond the twins possess link the two realms, and an evil overlord hopes to use this bond to conquer the first plane.

Mythologies and religious beliefs are melded and warped in a world not unlike our own in many ways. Narration is divided through the separate realms, but manages to weave itself into a wonderful story. The prose is eloquent and the dialogue is flawless.

Isn't the cover magnificent? Go ahead and click on it; you'll get a better view. This wonderful piece was painted by Greg Bridges.

Famous and award-winning in Australia, I must admit complete ignorance of Williams' work prior to this U.S. release from PYR Books. As of late, PYR seems to be the anti-TOR. Not a novel comes from this particular house that is hackneyed or weakly plotted. I don't foresee, for instance, a David Keck or Terry Goodkind in the offing. There was a time, during my fantasy adolescence, where the TOR mountain symbol seemed a seal of quality. While that particular mountain no longer seems to be any guarantor of goodness, the flaming PYR certainly hints at such.

And The Crooked Letter may be their strongest fantasy novel yet. I may not have been a Williams fan prior to it's reading, but I certainly count myself amongst that number now.
8.5/10 Collector's Notes:

Released in 2004 in Australia, the Australian first edition of The Crooked Letter will be the most collectible and/or valuable. That said, if things fall as they ought, this is a book you don't want to miss out on.

Flying home from Minneapolis this week, I noticed a copy of The Crooked Letter in an airport bookstore. Good on PYR for getting this prodigious work out there for people to read and experience. I expect great things will happen.

Comments on "The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams"


Blogger RobB said ... (10:15 PM) : 

Glad to see you enjoyed it almost as much as I did William. Williams has a number of Space Opera novels co-authored with Shane Dix. I'm just getting to those myself.


Blogger Lou Anders said ... (10:44 PM) : 

Very, very gratified you guys are both enjoying Sean's work so much. I think he's a genius.

I should point out that the Australian edition is a mass-market, and the Pyr a hardcover, if that helps collectors, though, as always I encourage folks to buy in their respective regions and for die-hards to get both. But regardless of which edition you get, I am very glad to see Sean's star rising over here.


Anonymous Sean Williams said ... (7:36 PM) : 

I am very glad to see Sean's star rising over here.

As am I. :-)

Thanks for the great review. I'm really glad you liked it. The Pyr edition is the most beautiful book on my brag shelf.


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