Book Review: The Scroll of Years

The Scroll of Years by Chris Willrich, Gaunt and Bone #1

Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone are a romantic couple and partners in crime. Persimmon is a poet from a well-to-do family, who found herself looking for adventure, while Imago is a thief in his ninth decade who is double-cursed, and his body has not aged in nearly seventy years. Together, their services and wanderlust have taken them into places better left unseen, and against odds best not spoken about. Now, they find themselves looking to get away, to the edge of the world, with Persimmon pregnant with their child, and the most feared duo of assassins hot on their trail. However, all is never what it seems, and a sordid adventure-complete with magic scrolls, gangs of thieves, and dragons both eastern and western-is at hand.

The Scroll of Years is one of book that I have wanted to read for a very long time. First because of the amazing cover art and promising blurb. Just Imago's description is cool. Furthermore it has been praised because of the great atmosphere. Originally Chris Willrich started of the Gaunt and Bone series with a short story, which I could find in the back of this book. This short story serves as a nice introduction to The Scroll of Years, but you don't necessarily have to read it to enjoy the it. 

In Epic Fantasy there are plenty of enigmatic duo's the frequently take the lead. Well they will have to make way for Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone. The story picks up with a unfavorable encounter of Gaunt and Bone, where they have to flee for their lives. Let me first tell you what Gaunt and Bone are, they are thieves... So you can imagine that they are fleeing because of a reason. Perhaps in a "normal" situation Gaunt and Bone would have stood up for themselves but in this particular occasion that is not possible. This is because of that Gaunt is pregnant. So now in order to out run the Night Auditors that are persuing them, they decide to travel to a new place: Qiangguo. What they discover in this Eastern province does open their eyes quite a bit. Being new to the whole scene they have to quickly adapt and get their bearing in order to find a secure place, because the Nigh Auditors are hot on their tale. Luckily for Gaunt and Bone, the local populace is helpful, though in their own way. As they make unlikely allies, the chances for Gaunt and Bone are becoming better. But they still have to fend off other bandits, dragons and magicians! 

I am going to be honest and say that the writing of Chris Willrich took some time to adjust to. Don't get me wrong though, the writing gives a unique flavor to the story of The Scroll of Year, it was just different than I was used too. Anyway, this did make the story a bit slow at start, but only for the start, as soon as you are into The Scroll of Years the pages will eventually fly by and you will be left sitting with a finished book in know time. The writing style fits really well with the background of the story as well as with the oriental inspired province of Qiangguo, it adds something mysterious to it. 

And this brings me directly to the part that makes The Scroll of Years stand out. Which is world building. Chris Willrich has definitely created a most interesting world. I was taken from the first mention of the Way. Of course it is fully shown by the character but I will get to it. The descriptions alone of how the people work about with cultivating various crops it feel like the other side of the world. The whole oriental experience gives a truly fantastical fantasy feeling.  `

Gaunt and Bone both make up for the main protagonists on the story. Though they are lovers, they do differ in some parts. Gaunt is the poet, though not overly drawn into a sterotypical poet who only talks that way. No, she thinks. Which makes her a valuable companion to Bone, who prefers to act and do stuff and ask questions when it is too late. Added to this comes the pressure of the pregnancy of Gaunt that makes up for some memorable scenes. Two other characters that make an impression are Flybait and Next-One-A-Boy, who is not quite a boy. They are from the Eastern province. It was great to see Chris Willrich use them to show what kind of riches Quangguo has to offer. 

Chris Willrich hits all the right spots with this rich debut. The Scroll of Years offers an great atmosphere in the combination of an European - Eastern/Oriental crossover story. Gaunt and Bone already have knocked some other Epic Fantasy duo's from there spots in my top 10 list. With all that Chris Willrich has shown in The Scroll of Years, I think there are a lot of more adventures still to come for the poet and the never-aging thief Gaunt and Bone. 


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