THE SEA-STONE SWORD by JOEL CORNAH
PB, 323 pages, Kristell Ink
All Rob Sardan wants is to be a hero. The broken boy who washes up on the shores of Khamas is determined to make a name for himself somehow. But the line between hero and villain is not an easy one to walk.
Rob’s quest for the mythical Sea-Stone Sword, the quest he believes will make him a legend, will instead force him to question every value he has, and to look into his soul with fresh eyes, to confront the darkness that dwells there.
Joel Cornah’s debut novel is refreshingly unusual take on swashbuckling heroic fantasy that explores the sometimes ragged line between heroism and villainy. There is no black and white here, every colourful character has many shades of grey. (It’s also refreshing to see so many LGBT characters featured prominently in the novel). He’s created an intricate world of pirates, dinosaurs, broken gods and penguins (yes, penguins), that extends far over the edges of the map. It’s refreshing to see how much thought has gone into the world and to know how many stories could emerge from it. I think this is the start of a long and promising career.
It’s slightly over-written in places, and Sardan is often an unlikeable protagonist (there are several occasions where he is, frankly, a bit of a knob) as he struggles with both personal losses and his own dark heart. But in the end he and his crew win and then break our hearts in their battle for the sword against a deranged immortal and the Lord of The Air.
Apparently Joel Cornah is working on a sequel (I’m secretly hoping it has more pengs in it, I’m intrigued by the pengs….) That’s one to look forward to, and I hope The Sea-Stone Sword is the first of many…