'Cold Silver' Drags Epic Fantasy Through The Mud, Wonderfully

April 14, 2015 2:15 PM

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Early in A Crown for Cold Silver — the debut novel by Alex Marshall, a name rumored to be the pseudonym of an established fantasy author striking off in an epic new direction — an old woman's battle scars are mistaken for matronly wrinkles. It's a tiny detail, but it speaks volumes. In Marshall's fictional, vaguely medieval world, Cobalt Zosia is a legendary retired general who once led her fearsome Five Villains to victory in a land rife with injustice, mostly of the haves-and-have-nots variety. Now in hiding with her husband, the mayor of a rural town, the elderly Zosia is yanked back into the machinations of blood, treasure, and empire when her village falls under the swords of a band of marauders — part of an army Zosia thought she'd made her peace with decades ago.

It isn't the most original setup for the first book of an epic fantasy series — with the exception being Zosia herself. There's been a lot of conversation lately about the need for greater diversity in speculative fiction, and much of that has been centered on race and gender. Age doesn't get mentio...

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