Sunday, 9 March 2014

Review: The Ace of Skulls, by Chris Wooding

The Ace of Skulls is the fourth and final book in The Tales of the Ketty Jay.

Every time I buy a new Ketty Jay story it’s an enjoyable read. After the first they’ve been a cross between the comfortable familiarity of old slippers and a surprise as I remember just how entertaining they are.

The Ace of Skulls continues and concludes the adventures of Captain Darian Frey and his crew of assorted misfits and oddities. Civil war has gripped Vardia as religious fanatics fight the old order for dominance. Frey is determined to keep out of the war, but the war is determined to make him and his crew part of it.

He finds himself hopelessly entangled in the struggle for Vardia’s destiny, whilst conflicting loyalties and misfortune threaten to tear apart his crew. Patriotism versus pragmatism and loves lost and found weigh in the scales and the ultimate result of the war depends on Frey and his crew.

I read this much more quickly than expected, and really enjoyed it. The story’s packed with twists and turns, the character development of the crew continues (I’d strongly advise getting Retribution Falls, the first book, and then The Black Lung Captain and The Iron Jackal before this).

As usual, the writing style’s lively, engaging and fast-paced. The crew enables a large number of POVs, and it’s particularly good to see how they’ve changed (or not) over the course of the four books.

Although I’d love to read more Tales of the Ketty Jay, I agree with Chris Wooding’s reasoning (click here to read it). It’s easy for a series to just go on for too long. As it stands, I recommend each of the four books and the series as a whole. I love grimdark as much as the next man, but sometimes it’s nice to have a light-hearted rollicking adventure, particularly one with such an interesting world and collection of characters as the Tales of the Ketty Jay.


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