The Silver Tide by Jen Williams
Be warned The Silver Tide is the third book in a trilogy. If you haven’t read books one and two there is a good chance that the following review may contain some mild spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Tales of the Black Feather Three and their exploits abound far and wide, and Wydrin of Crosshaven, Lord Aaron Frith and Sir Sebastian have become sell swords in demand. Having foiled powerful mages and evil magic, they now face a challenge unlike any before – in the form of Wydrin’s mother.
Devinia the Red, notorious pirate and captain of the Poison Chalice, is intent on finding the fabled treasure hidden within the jungles of the cursed island of Euriale. She needs the skills of her daughter Wydrin and her companions to get there, and our heroes cannot resist the lure of coin and adventure. But no explorer has returned from the heart of the island, and it’s not long before the Three find themselves in the clutches of peril. Deep within the island of the gods, there are remnants of forces best left undisturbed…
And so with a heavy heart we have come to the final book in The Copper Cat trilogy *sniffs*. I have been looking forward to this and dreading it in equal measure. I’ve loved this series, every page has been a delight, and I couldn’t wait for this latest instalment. Sadly though, in the back of mind was that niggling little voice. I don’t want it to be over dramatic but the end is nigh!
The Silver Tide picks up after the events of The Iron Ghost. Wydrin, Frith and Sebastian have survived the events in Skaldshollow, but those events have most definitely left their mark. Sebastian in particular is a changed man. For the first time in his life, he is adrift and lacking in purpose. A new adventure with his friends seems like the perfect opportunity to get back to his former self.
What follows is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Jen Williams. There are few who do it better. You honestly can’t beat a bit of non-stop action adventure. Whipping along at a cracking pace with more thrills and spills than you could shake a big pointy stick at, who could ask for more? Along the way our heroes meet all manner of weird and wonderful characters. Errant gods, vile monsters, villains, heroes and a demon who is particularly fond of an ancient tree are all along for the ride.
So the members of the Black Feather Three have returned, and as much as I like Sebastian and Aaron, I have to confess that it is the Copper Cat of Crosshaven, Wydrin, who will always be my favourite. She is such a wonderfully multi-layered character. At first glance, you could easily be forgiven for thinking she is little more than a hedonist, constantly living in the moment. On one level I suppose there is a facet of her personality that is entirely consumed with fighting, drinking and being an incorrigible rogue, but there is also much more besides. You get a real sense that Wydrin cares about her family and friends. She would happily walk into the pits of Hell if it meant helping anyone of them out. The best part, she wouldn’t even give it a moment’s thought. Wydrin behaves with people exactly the way she expects them to behave with her; there is no pretence, no sneaking. When you meet the Copper Cat you get to experience everything, warts and all. There is just something so refreshingly honest about her that I immediately latched onto. Kudos to Jen Williams for creating such a perfectly realised and well-fleshed out character.
I think one of my favourite things about this series is how the Black Feather Three have always stayed true to their base motivations. It doesn’t matter if they are robbing crypts, battling demons or taking on a host of vengeful deities. They have evolved into a wonderfully snarky dysfunctional little family. As I mentioned before, Wydrin will do anything for her family and friends. Sebastian is driven by a strong internal sense of honour and doing what is right, while Aaron Frith quests for knowledge and the answers to all things.
In The Silver Tide, we also met Devinia the Red, big momma Wydrin, and she is so much fun. Within seconds of her arrival, you can tell exactly where the Cat gets all her wit, charm and natural mouthy attitude from. Hard as nails and always ready for a fight, Devinia feels like a force of nature, cross her at your peril. I’d love to learn more of what I suspect is her extremely chequered past. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good pirate tale. As an aside, while we’re talking about pirates, I read this book while listening to the soundtrack to Black Sails by Bear McCreary. This book and that music are indeed a match made in heaven.
Back to the novel…there are some neat time travel elements in this particular adventure. I’m not going to go in to great detail, for fear of plot spoilerage. Suffice to say, they fit perfectly within the confines of the plot and add an extra bittersweet note to the novel’s final outcome. I’d imagine among some readers there will most definitely be tears.
This final novel in the Copper Cat trilogy has delivered exactly what I had hoped for, a suitably epic conclusion to a suitably epic series. With this trilogy, Jen Williams has established herself as a fantasy author well worth your time. I love how these books manage to have a traditional fantasy feel, but in the same instant a cutting edge modern sensibility. If only all fantasy was as addictive as this. I can’t wait to see what this author will do next. I can guarantee you this much, I’ll be queueing up to read it.
The Silver Tide is published by Headline and is available now. Highly recommended. In fact I suggest you do yourself a favour, if you haven’t already, read the whole damn series.