On the churning waves of the Icebreaker Sea, black-masted galleons appear at the walls of Casantri's harbour under the cover of night. The palace keep looms large against the moon; the quiet city streets lie still and peaceful. And then thunder cracks and cannon fire sets the harbour ablaze, as the greatest nation the world has known crumbles before them in the dark, besieged by an enemy on the hunt for revenge.
Tarraz, the ancient foe and former colony of Provenci, have amassed power under a mysterious new leader and make plans for a coming war. A war of gods and men alike, that will tear the world apart at its seams and bring a wave of suffering to thousands.
And it is a war that begins, when a pale figure slips ashore that fateful night, in search of a broken redemption and the famed Crown of Omens.
For the end of the world had come, and the ruin of man will follow...
The Crown of Omens is a new grimdark novella written by E.J. Doble, which serves as an introductory point to the Blood and Steel Saga, and a taster of what you can expect from his writing style. An experimental book, which innovates in certain aspects, set during a Tarrazi raid to Casantri's harbour, in the middle of the night; war drums sound in the background.
In this novella, we become spectators of that fatal night, following several POVs, painting the big picture of a chaotic battle/incursion just using those small pieces, the pawns on the table of history. Curiously, E.J. Doble decides to not name most characters, deciding to put the focus on their roles or their positions; and it's not light the detail of who it is named. While we advance in the novella, we can see that all of the chapters/POVs are joint by a common characteristic, using the death of the character to jump into its killer's POV.
As you can guess from the situation portrayed, we are going to read a story wrapped in chaos, especially when we are following Casantri's inhabitants; however, with this approach to narration, it is quite easy to get the full picture of the raid, and I must recognise E.J. Doble to write engaging battles, even when we might guess the result of it.
The pacing is absolutely frenetic, derived from the sense of urgency both sides are having. I would recommend reading this novella in a single sit, as I think the experience improves when you finish it.
If you are looking for an entry point to The Blood and Steel Saga, The Crown of Omens is an excellent one, acting as a sampler of Doble's writing style and an introduction to the conflict depicted. Pure epic grimdark!
E J Doble is 21 years old from Bath, UK. He is a self-published author, whose first novel, THE FANGS OF WAR, was released in January 2022. He is a part time swim teacher, and painter.
When not writing, he is most often found drinking excess amounts of coffee and tending to a variety houseplants with odd and entirely pointless names.