Crystal Gunslinger - The Obsidian Outlaws, by Oliver Laws
The Warped Scorch is known as the most dangerous area on the continent of Lux for good reason.
Ever since a strange meteor hit the land and transformed it into a crystal hellscape, all four bordering nations have been trying to establish a foothold in the extremely dangerous new territory and lay claim to its many treasures. Cyrus is a crystal gunslinger, one of the individuals that face the horrors of the Scorch on a daily basis in order to make a living. With his trusty ruby repeater and plenty of experience, he is prepared to deal with whatever challenges the strange creatures and deadly environment can throw at him.
But Cyrus will soon learn that the true horrors of the Scorch are much more human in nature, and no matter how hard he tries, escaping his past will be nearly impossible.
My Review (3.75 out of 5 )
Crystal Gunslinger - The Obsidian Outlaws is the debut novel of Oliver Laws. It is an interesting fantasy western proposal, a genre that I'm starting to love, with strong Borderlands vibes that I personally enjoyed. We are going to be following Cyrus, an expert gunslinger that survives in the Scorch doing different missions in order to get money, as leaving this place is not an option.
The Scorch is a dangerous land, where magic is unstable with several threats, such as different creatures made from crystal. But it is also a place full of opportunities if you have the correct set of skills; and here is where our main character enters: Cyrus, a gunslinger expert on dealing with these creatures, who survives accepting different missions. His last one won't be the same, as he is tasked to protect an investigator, Kate; he can't imagine how different will be his life after it.
Cyrus is a curious main character. He has been surviving in a difficult place for years, and due to his past he can't go outside of the Scorch; with those circumstances in mind, it is justified the number of skills and how good he's dealing with danger. Even after suffering trauma, and having to deal with the consequences of it, we can see somebody who has endured pain all his life. The only detail that I don't find logical is how easily he gets to trust people, even if they were part of different sides before talking with them.
Kate is a deceiving character, and probably one of the best in the whole novel. While looking so innocent and defenseless, her secret is a danger to the rest of the people. In general, Laws has done a great job with the secondary characters, especially with the different groups that become part of the story.
The world is one of the most remarkable aspects of the book. The Scorch, this wasteland covered in crystal, is a place where opportunities exist for the brave; similar to the Wild West. Creatures covered in crystal add an extra layer of danger, and only with specific weapons you can deal with them (props also to the illustrations inside the book). There are small towns within the limits of the zone, and several groups acting in what is a lawless zone.
Pacing is okay-ish, improving as long we advance in the novel. The second half is excellent in that regard, mixing different POVs written in first person, giving extra perspectives of the same act; the first one suffers from wanting to give too much information for what we need but mixed with the plot.
In summary, Crystal Gunslinger - The Obsidian Outlaws is a good debut, with a big potential to become a great saga, perfect for people who love desert settings and westerns. The plot is hooking, there are several scenes of action really well written (each time the Rooks have to deal with a creature is a spectacle), and the process of Cyrus deserves a mention. Enjoyed reading it, and definitely I would recommend it.
Oliver Laws is a British Science-Fiction and Fantasy writer with a deep passion for all things bizarre and fantastical.
As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community with a deep passion for video games, tabletop RPGs and anime, Oliver channels his creative energy and natural storytelling into writing unique worlds and loveable characters.
When he’s not writing books, Oliver is usually working on campaigns for any number of tabletop RPGs, watching mecha anime and horror movies or playing videogames.