A ripping yarn but unfortunately lacking in originality.
This first book in the 'Trance Warriors' saga follows the struggles of the outlaw, Connor, as he is drawn into a battle between good and evil, part of a destiny from which he has no escape. Connor finds himself vying with both personal and real demons, struggling with a new role as leader and protector, and learning how to develop and use his innate Trance Warrior powers to prevent a bloody war and bring the opposing forces together to stand against a hidden but escalating malevolence that unchallenged, will destroy the world. The ultimate battle on Middle Isle – The Siege of Scarn – is at hand. Connor discovers uncomfortable truths about his heritage and the twin Gods – gentle Scarn, who needs Connor as an instrument for good in the world and the depraved Scarl, the root of evil consuming hearts and minds, whose blood cult is growing.
Lancastrian Robert C Auty wears his influences on his sleeve and his debut novel owes much to many, but most of all to the late David Gemmell. Even without the author's mention of his love for Gemmell's work on the back cover many readers will be reminded of the Drenai novels whilst reading The Siege of Scarn; particularly those books in the series that feature Waylander and Druss. Of other influences, David Eddings is to be found within the camaraderie of the characters; World of Warcraft in the elves; JRR Tolkien in the dwarves and you may also, on occasion, get the feeling that Christian beliefs help drive the narrative.
There are many strengths and weakness evident in The Siege of Scarn, the main strengths being that that it is fast paced and full of action. The titular siege is well thought-out and adeptly executed and there are not many books outside of those from the major publishers that have been edited to such a high standard – typos and poor sentence structure are simply not a feature.
One of the major weaknesses is that, in being so heavily influenced by the work of other authors there is little that can be called original. Many will find it difficult to warm to the characters, especially the lead Connor and his love interest Janice. Very early in the book we discover that Janice has posted a bounty on the king, a bounty that Connor has accepted. Events go tragically wrong and this leads to the slaughter of every man, woman and child in their village (except Connor and Janice of course). This, you would expect, would lead to remorse and guilt that would last a lifetime. Not so with these two. In the blink of an eye they are flirting, laughing and joking with each other, and with their new companions. Their seeming indifference to the suffering they had caused will often lead to complete indifference towards them shown by the reader.
The Siege of Scarn seems to be a book in which Auty has taken the best bits from everything he has enjoyed reading over the years and then shaped them into the framework of a story. What this book shows is that Auty has the talent to write a ripping yarn, but what it doesn't show is whether Auty can bring anything new and fresh to the genre. Hopefully, with the debut now behind him, he will start to put more of his own ideas into the series.
When David Gemmell died in 2007 a huge void was left and nobody since has managed to write heroic fantasy as involving and enjoyable as he. Hopefully, Robert C Auty will find his own style and go on to write books every bit as good as the man who has influenced him so greatly. We must remember that Gemmell himself had Michael Moorcock, JRR Tolkien, Louis Lamour and Stan Lee to thank for inspiration.
About the author
Robert C Auty, originally from Lancashire, spent his formative years in Canada before returning to England where his family settled in the village of Heysham, Lancashire. Robert now lives on the edge of the Lake District. A manager with a distribution company, outside of work Robert enjoys the outdoors, photography, and beekeeping. When he is not busy writing he enjoys walking in the Yorkshire Dales and Lakeland Fells. The Siege of Scarn is the first book in 'Trance Warriors' saga; Conner's Folly will continue the story.
Review by Floresiensis
2 positive reader review(s) for The Siege of Scarn
John Wayne from England
This is a good book. Good solid story, and a great lead character. But what is realllllly good is the audio book version. Get it and see what I mean, the reader is brilliant, really brings the story to life! (Fantasy Book Review would like to thank the author for another review on his own book)
Brian from Manchester
I like fantasy fiction. I don't like lots of blood and gore and chopped off body parts. In reading Trance Warriors, Seige of Scarn, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that although there is carnage, and death, and loads of fighting, the story was intriguing and I had to keep reading. Connor, an outlaw, is hired to assassinate the king, but kills the wrong man,incurring the wrath of the evil queen Merrill. As he escapes her he meets allies, Cheryl, a follower of the god Scarn, who is the good brother, Scarl, his twin, is an evil god. Stort, a dwarf, is another ally, as is Janice a female fellow outlaw. They meet elves, even dark elves. Relationships among them are revealed as they travel and fight. The Siege of the title takes up a full third of the story, the build up is fleeting to say the least, but I don't mind that. Once you get to the siege though, the story really takes off and is almost impossilbe to stop reading until the end. The action is fast paced, with Connor discovering more about himself and his relationship to the god Scarn. He doesn't always agree with what he has to do, but continues to work for good. His companions bond and form a group to help him and gather other allies, during battles and confrontations. And Connor discovers the toll fighting takes, and the toll secrets require. Many die, as well as one or two major characters, but it is all handled well. I'm reading Connor's Folly, the sequel now, it is better than this one, look out for it.
8.7/10 from 3 reviews