Title: Nathaniel Grey and the Obsidian Crown
Author: Farrell Keeling
“He was more aware, at that moment, of the large shape looming above him against the mountain, casting the two Regals into a darker shade of dusk. In the distance he could just make out the flames of braziers, flickering against the midnight sky.”
Nathaniel Grey and the Obsidian Crown is the second novel in the Phoenix fantasy trilogy. The protagonist, Nathanial Grey, has been cast out of Obsidian for crimes against the Obsidian Throne, and as a result, he finds himself relying on the people he loathes: the Lycans. But as a war quietly brews between the Regals and the Lycans, Grey realises he may have more in common with those he opposed than he first thought, but will those who plot against him, manage to bring him down before he can get back home?
As I expected, certain elements of this book were hard to understand because this is the second book in the trilogy (and I haven’t read the first one). As it’s fantasy, there’s a lot of world-building involved, and there were a lots of terms that took me a while to understand. Even the tension between the Regals and Lycans was something which I didn’t initially know about so had to get on board with before I properly understood.
I liked the relationship Nathaniel had with his brother, and I would have liked to see that developed more, because I enjoyed their interactions at the beginning of the novel. Also, I thought the dialogue throughout the novel was very authentic; Keeling got the balance of humour and realistic interaction pretty spot on, which I think helped make the novel engaging and made the world more plausible. Plus the short chapters definitely helped keep pace in the novel which is always good, especially when books, like this one, have a lot of action.
I also like how he committed to coming up with new words and phrases for things in the world – again this aided its plausibility and I felt like I was really in another world to this one. I do think, perhaps at times it was a little too complicated, but I appreciate how much work he had put into it, so I think I’d almost prefer this to one that was too simple – otherwise, what’s the point!?
As it’s fantasy, I’m surprised it wasn’t longer, and probably could have benefitted from another 50 pages to help with explaining it all, plus the whole theme of “The phoenix is rising..” did feel a little cliché and overdone, I think I would have liked him to come up with a phrase that’s more original to match the originality of the plot. (Think what the phrase “Winter is Coming” has done for the Game of Thrones books).
Overall, I needed a bit more of context, but as this is book two, I imagine that if I had read book one, I would understand a little better. I liked the premise, thought it was a quick and charismatic read, and think that Keeling has an original and exciting trilogy on his hands, I just hope the other two books are as fun and authentic as this one!