A Crown for Cold Silver
November 10, 2019 9:19 PM - by Alex Marshall - Subscribe

Five villains. One legendary general. A final quest for vengeance. In this grimdark fantasy epic, a former general queen has to get the gang back together for one last job.

"It was all going so nicely, right up until the massacre." Twenty years ago feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.

Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner. Book 1 of The Crimson Empire. (Description from Goodreads)
posted by WidgetAlley (6 comments total)
This one was a sleeper hit for me - I can't remember exactly what made me pick it up except that I was in the mood for some seriously thick fantasy worldbuilding. It definitely delivered on that and much more. Here is a list of reasons you should read this book if you like epic fantasy:

- Achieves excellent, complex, distressing, grey-morality grimdark fantasy without relying on real-world bigotry and tropes. Horrible things happen for horrible reasons that makes sense in the world Marshall built, but it's almost completely free of entirely-too-close-to-real-world gender violence, etc.
- The main character is a POSTMENOPAUSAL QUEER WOMAN who is legendary for her military and martial prowess. FUCK. YEAH.
- There is more casual inclusion of queer sexuality and the full spectrum of gender identities than I can remember in almost any other series. Not just the main character, but across the board. No bury your gays tropes here either (except insofar as like, everybody might die at any time, because grimdark.)
- Extremely cool fantasy realms that incorporate strong East, South, and Central Asian influences as well as more standard tropes like Vikings, dissolute European nobility, and the history of the Catholic Church.
- So. Many. Awesome. Female. Characters.
- Snappy dialogue - I definitely laughed out loud in some spots.

Reasons you might not want to read this book:

- Holy damn it is violent. Like, really classically grimdark George R.R. Martin (but without the rape) violent.
- You don't like complex political or military machinations in your fantasy. (In which case, you're wrong, but fair enough.)

So if you want a big fat fantasy epic with progressive sensibilities that doesn't shy away from dark themes (and includes a very cute but kind of gross devil-dog!), this doorstopper right here is for you (and me!)
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:33 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah, there's casual inclusion of polyamorous families too!
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:34 PM on November 10, 2019

Right on WidgetAlley! Agree with everything you loved. The politics actually made sense and I felt that a decent amount of thought was put into the entire world build.

Zosia's backstory is brilliant.

I enjoyed the take on magic/ familiars and how they're kinda-sorta bound but also kind-sorta want to hang out with their human. Been a while since I read it.

I've figured out what to queue up next for my commute audiobook (thanks!), and it's narrated by a woman! "Too bad" my commute just went from 35-45 minutes to 10.
posted by porpoise at 4:24 PM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, bugs = drugs!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:46 PM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

The sequel is even better if anyone hasn't read it yet!
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:48 AM on November 12, 2019

well sold, I will give it a try!
posted by skewed at 9:16 AM on November 13, 2019

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