Book Review: The Splintered Crown by Larry N. Martin

Title: The Splintered Crown

Author: Larry N. Martin

Publisher: SOL Publishing

Publication Date:  April 25, 2019

Genres: Epic Fantasy


A party of adventurers in an unknown land of ghosts, on a quest for a legendary artifact, backed by the divine intervention of a mysterious demigoddess. Stop me if you've heard this one before, because you have, but that's precisely the point. Much of the appeal of The Splintered Crown is that the story is so familiar, a throwback to the classic quest adventures of the 70s and magical fantasy of the 80s.

Larry N. Martin offers up plenty of action and adventure, magic and mayhem, in a story driven along by a memorable band of adventurers. The framing device of The Poxy Dragon is a nice touch, opening a wealth of storytelling possibilities within the world of Tankards and Heroes, with Lady Leota sending would-be-heroes and adventurers through her magical portal.

This time out, those adventurers include a mage, a half-elf, a thief, a wolf-shifter, and a healer - all of them broken, damaged, or alienated in some way. Declan, the broken mage who doubts his own ability to lead the team, is an interesting character. He's a bit cold and flat, but nevertheless intriguing. It was Malyn, though, the androgynous healer who can commune with the dead, who captivated me. With his personality, his backstory, and his powers, he could easily carry a story on his own, pulling the team together.

There are some great settings here, from haunted forests to cursed monasteries, and the lychgates where they shelter are fascinating little places. It's an episodic kind of tale, with each adventure centered around obtaining some tool, artifact, or treasure. It all seems a little coincidental or convenient at first, but as revelations about Lady Leota and her role come to light, it all begins to make sense. If there were any flaw to the story, it would be that the characters never really felt as if they were in danger, but nobody ever really expects the heroes to die, so that's a minor quibble.

Hopefully, The Splintered Crown is not the last we'll see of the world of Tankards and Heroes, even if does mean a new cast of adventurers next time out.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀