cover image The Grim Company

The Grim Company

Luke Scull. Roc, $26.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-425-26484-3

Video game designer Scull makes his fiction debut with this complex series opener, set in a fantasy world where the gods are dead and the Magelords who killed them now act as tyrannical overlords of an increasingly hostile, decaying land. As war threatens to bloom between the Grey City of Dorminia and Thelassa, a disparate group of not-quite-heroes are drawn into the conflict, including Davarus Cole, a callow youth convinced of his own heroism; Eremul, a legless mage; and several barbarian warriors long past their prime. The premise is fleshed out through political intrigue, graphic violence, and a richly detailed setting. It’s not without flaws: female characters don’t leave a lasting impression, and almost no one is truly sympathetic. Nonetheless, this novel will please fantasy fans who like their protagonists to sweat, swear, bleed, and obsess about bodily functions. Scull both revels in and gently tweaks genre conventions while delivering a visceral, sometimes off-putting story. Agent: Robert Dinsdale, A.M. Heath Literary Agency. (Sept.)