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Shield and Crocus by Michael R. Underwood
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Shield and Crocus (edition 2014)

by Michael R. Underwood (Author)

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In a city built among the bones of a fallen giant, a small group of heroes looks to reclaim their home from the five criminal tyrants who control it.
Member:benfulton
Title:Shield and Crocus
Authors:Michael R. Underwood (Author)
Info:47North (2014), 416 pages
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Shield and Crocus by Michael R. Underwood

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On hold for now. Will return to at a later date.
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
A description of this book comparing it to China Mieville got me to read it (as such comparisons often will). Underwood’s city of Audec-Hal does owe an admitted debt to New Crobuzon, and I don’t think Mieville would have any problems with the politics here – but this is straight-up a costumed-superhero-team story.
The city, built amongst the bones of a fallen Titan, is ruled by five oppressive Tyrants, who are planning a summit to consolidate their power. Against them stand the Shields, a half-dozen individuals with special powers who hope to incite a revolution before it’s too late. I thought this story would’ve made a great comic book. Its colorful descriptions of various peculiar characters, the different races that inhabit the city, the bizarre structure of the city itself, and the blow-by-blow fighting descriptions are all practically tailored for a graphic format. I wanted to see it illustrated! (And – I do see here on Goodreads that a comic is apparently in the works...!)
As it is – a non-graphic novel – I thought it was OK. The reader is told, right off the bat, that the main character, the aging seditionist Wonlar, has a superpower that he refuses to use, because of the horrible things that happened last time he used it, which resulted in the loss of his true love. It’s kind of obvious that eventually, he’s going to have to use his power; so a lot of the story feels like a waiting game until things get bad enough to force his hand. The tone wobbles a bit between very serious, almost grim – and funny/cartoony, especially in some of the fight scenes. The setting is very imaginative, and there are lots of great ideas here – but I wanted some of the backgrounds and characters to be fleshed out more.
One super-nitpicky thing. I have crocuses in my garden. I’ve never observed them to have any noticeable scent at all. I’m just going to assume that the fragrant crocuses mentioned several times here are an alien cultivar… ;-)

Recommended for fans of superheroes… [which, I have to admit, I'm usually not.]

Copy provided by NetGalley – thanks so much for the opportunity to read!

( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I received this advance copy via NetGalley. In addition, the author is a friend, though I've critiqued his work and have no qualms about dishing about the negative with the positive.

The pitch for the book is so simple and so awesome: epic fantasy with superheroes. I'm baffled that it hasn't been done before, especially since the combination works so well in this novel, due out in June from Amazon's 47North imprint.

The cast is diverse, with each hero bringing a unique strength in their rebellion against the tyrants of Audec-Hal. First Sentinel is old. He's been fighting for fifty years. His unique skill already cost him the love of his life, and physically he's riddled with pain from numerous old wounds. His son is Aegis, his second-in-command, and his constant worry. I was especially fond of Sapphire, one of an engineered race that was freed by the Shields some years before. Probably the biggest stumbling block I had in the novel was that I confused names at times. Each of the heroes has two names--their real and secret identities--and a number begin with S. I'm bad with names anyway, so I found I had to re-read some passages to keep things straight.

Not that re-reading is a bad thing.

Even the setting here is ridiculously cool: it's a massive metropolis built within the bones of a fallen Titan. The bad guys control their own districts within the body.

The book is fast-paced, especially impressive considering the amount of world-building. The fight is desperate. The tyrants are villains in the truest sense. There is a definite GRRM vibe as the story progresses. I found myself getting incredibly anxious as it neared the end because things looked so hopeless on all fronts. I really wasn't sure how they could win, or if the sacrifice would be so great that it wouldn't be worth it. I was glad when I finished the book because my heart could finally calm down, but I was sad there was no more to read. Some books are just like that. ( )
  ladycato | May 7, 2014 |
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