The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson
“Long ago the world fell into twilight, when the great empires of old consumed each other in sorcerous cataclysms. In the south the Star Towers fell, swallowed by the sea, while the black glaciers descended upon the northern holdfasts, entombing the cities of Min-Ceruth in ice and sorcery. Then from the ancient empire of Menekar the paladins of Ama came, putting every surviving sorcerer to the sword and cleansing their taint from the land for the radiant glory of their lord.
The pulse of magic slowed, fading like the heartbeat of a dying man.
But after a thousand years it has begun to quicken again.
In a small fishing village a boy with strange powers comes of age…
A young queen rises in the west, fanning the long-smoldering embers of magic into a blaze once more…
Something of great importance is stolen – or freed – from the mysterious Empire of Swords and Flowers…
And the immortals who survived the ancient cataclysms bestir themselves, casting about for why the world is suddenly changing…
The Review –
The Crimson Queen is a promising start to an epic fantasy series, there can be no doubt about that, with sweeping prose and lofty ambitions combined with excellent world building, Mister Hutson has much to be pleased about. While we could espouse what we loved about The Crimson Queen we instead wanted to focus on the two places we believe there is the most room for improvement, the characterizations and the plot.
There are multiple points of view contained within the pages of The Crimson Queen, practically a staple of modern fiction, but it can be distracting when each characters voice lacks distinctness in the throng of thoughts thrown at us. While some effort was made to make each POV unique, the underlying structure of the prose made it difficult to keep track of at times. Now that is not to say we lost track of who was who, but that we would have had a difficult time recalling who said what and when at any stage of the book. Characters, despite their stated differences, were all astoundingly similar in thought and action, each one formed enough to perform their function, but maybe not enough for us to become completely invested. While this isn’t a deal breaker for us, it doesn’t make us pine for the next installment as the author otherwise might want us to, and that is a bit of an issue.
In terms of the plot, the pacing was quite good, but we never felt as if we were surprised. We went on an adventure, to be sure, but the end of the road always felt like it was in sight. We knew where we were going and how we were going to get there, and aside from the occasional raised brow, we never deviated much from our assumed course. While not contrived, the overall plot is not particularly original and it leaves us wishing it hadn’t all felt so familiar.
The Rating – A-
We have had our time to gripe, so now we may appear to need to justify our rating. To be short, it is a darn good book. Mister Hutson has taken his time in writing this, and it shows. He doesn’t fall back on all of the same old and tired fantasy tropes and has managed to build a world as unique as any that came before it. Old readers will find much to like about The Crimson Queen, while new readers will be spellbound. Jan and Keilan were fine characters, and though they may have not lived up to what we believe they could have been, they move along what is otherwise a fun read. We look forward to reading more from Mister Hutson in the future.
Do you want to read The Crimson Queen? You can find it on Amazon.