"It was all going so nicely, right up until the massacre."Second sentence begins with the invocation of the thoughts of a Sir Hjortt, who hollers at an innocent little village:
"I am Sir Efrain Hjortt of Azgaroth, Fifteenth Colonel of the Crimson Empire . . . "yadda yadda yadda. Followed by:
"In the names of the Pontiff of the west and the Queen of the Rest . . ."and somebody called Queen Indsorith.
What kind of name is Hjortt? try it out on the tongue sometime, and dang doesn't it come out as something close to fart? soon followed by a tipica grimdark litany of preposterous mashed-up naming (such as even the title of the book!), titles, places, demons, animals, thrown on the page at random: Azgaroth, Crimson Empire, Immaculates, weirdborn, Crimson Codices, Chainwitch, owlbats, the Cobalt General, the Five Villains, Fallen Mother, horned wolves, sun knives, etc, as well as every possible diversity of gender and match-up that can be thought of among a variety of species and demons, religions and
cultures assembled from those in Europe and Asia -- hey, we are diverse! No faux European medieval - Renaissance fantasy for us! But worry not -- there are no full-blooded characters here either, just the expected grimdark cutout placeholders, who, you know, are subverting the genre.
From the start then, present is the signature grimdark authorial self-congratulation of her/himself's witty cleverness (Some Have Said author's editor has confirmed Alex Marshall is male). See! my many references to the names of metal bands! And like metal bands' "music" arrangements, lyrics and presentation, the text is bloated with faux portent, pretension and self-complacent superiority.
As well, readers see present from the first line, parody or not, the signature of grimdark, which is grimdark protagonists just cannot shut up and their narrators just cannot resist commenting. Protags and narrators talk-talk-talk everyone to death, most of all the reader. A Crown for Cold Silver's protags and narrator are no different in this than it is in its authorial self-congratulation of her/himself's witty cleverness.
In case the reader misses the joke of parody/burlesque of grimdark self-inflation, the book is tricked out with an epigraph from Goya and his Los Caprichos:
"Friendship is the daughter of virtue. Villains may be accomplices but not friends."The reader cannot help but connect this epigram to the title's inclusion of "cold silver" which recollects Judas sell-out of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Beyond that too, this is one of the many textual moments that provokes the reader into believing the author keeps falling into being a better writers than s/he intends for this particular work.
None of this will come to the eleven-year-old male mind of a certain sort -- who will more than likely take this book seriously and love it -- except -- O! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! the Cobalt General is an old lady. NO NO NO NO! O, author, so sly, so delighting in "grimdark subversion". . . .
BTW, Cold Silver also mocks Steven Brust's Vlad Tatlos Dragaeran series and the Khaavren Romances. So much to mock, so little time, one imagines Marshal thinking as s/he frantically types so many words: Burnished Chain, dunecroc, Diadem's Central Chainhouse Known as the Dens, Diadem's Jewel, Black Pope, Almighty Matron, godguana and etc.
Question: is it possible to mock what was already a mockery?