Book review: Ten Ruby Trick, by Julia Knight
Ten Ruby Trick is in many ways the perfect swashbuckling romance. Van Gast is the quintessential rogue-with-a-heart-of-gold, always ready to do the stupid-but-exciting thing; Josie is cunning as a bag of foxes and stubborn as all hell. There are sea battles, storms, chases (lots of chases!) and a really nasty villain to boo – what’s not to like?
This is no bland medieval fantasy world, however. The majority of the inhabitants are dark-skinned, apart from the Viking-like Gan, and gunpowder weapons sit comfortably alongside magic that can quell storms or erect forcefields against cannonades. Most intriguing of all is the magic of the Archipelago, which crystallises on its users’ skins, turning them into helpless grotesques, barely able to move and reliant on their slaves for everything. This is nasty, dark magic at its most imaginative.
I began my review with Holden, as does the book, because although Van Gast is undeniably the hero of the story, Holden is the anti-hero. He’s the guy we want to fail – and yet whose struggles against the vile magics that hold him in thrall cannot help but engage the reader’s sympathy. The theme of this book is freedom, and no character embodies that theme better than Holden.
If you enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean or Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar books and don’t mind a dash of unsoppy romance with your fantasy, I recommend you give Ten Ruby Trick a whirl!
Ten Ruby Trick is available as an ebook published by Carina Press.