If you wish to check out The Crimson Pact, stop by its website at http://thecrimsonpact.com. While it’s only currently available in digital formats, if you have a computer, you can read this book. Not only is there a PDF version at the website, but you can read it on a free desktop reader from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.
The Failed Crusade is the first story in the volume, and really the setup for the entire “shared world” of The Crimson Pact. As the tagline says, they fought the demons, but at the moment of their victory, something went horribly wrong.
I don’t really care for formal high fantasy (or formal fiction at all, for that matter), and that was a small obstacle to my enjoyment of this story. But as far as the book goes, I didn’t let it bother me too much because this is such a diverse anthology with all sorts of styles of storytelling. It also feels a little rushed at times – especially in the romantic subplot. This isn’t a bad thing – I’m annoyed when a story has far more words than plot – but I think that was largely due to the need to set the stage for the premise of the world.
Despite not being my personal taste in storytelling style, the idea and characters involved were strong enough for me to not only see the promise of the story, but see how this could set up a great anthology. The concepts of ultimate sacrifice (and we aren’t talking mere “death” here, bucko) and serving the greater good really struck a chord with me. These characters could have stopped. They took care of the immediate problem for their world, after all.
Also, the authors do an excellent job setting the scene. It’s been a month since I last read The Failed Crusade, and I can still remember both many of the particulars of the plot and what I imagined as I read the story.
Framing stories – especially ones that frame something as vast (and yet personal) as this one – are hard. It does its job, and does it serviceably. Now that the frame is set and Paul and Patrick don’t have that additional burden on their taletelling, I’m looking forward to the next installment of these character’s story.
Summary: This framing story does good job doing a hard task. Despite being written in a style I don’t usually enjoy, that style didn’t get in the way of the ideas and characters.