Those Brave, Foolish Souls in the City of Swords is a brilliant adventure that drags you with it every step of the way.
With his Yarnsworld series (They Mostly Come Out At Night and Where the Waters Turn Black) Benedict Patrick is cementing himself as one of my favourite authors and this book is no exception. If you enjoyed either of those two books you should get this one, if you haven’t tried them, then get them quick!
This time we are brought to a fresh setting heavily inspired by Central American folklore and culture and we head on an adventure with Arturo who has come to Espadapan, the City of Swords, to make himself a Bravadori – one of the legendary swordfighters that defend the city against the perils of the Wilds.
Or at least that’s what the stories say.
When he arrives the sword-fighters he finds are more like vigilante gangs than noble protectors. Disappointed, but not dissuaded, Arturo nevertheless begins his own quest to become a noble Bravadori.
We also follow Yizel, a disgraced Bravadori, and Crazy Raccoon, a Bravadori so feared that he doesn’t even have to draw his sword and his enemies flee. Their stories interweave and send us beyond the city limits into the Wilds but I won’t say any more than that for this review!
The writing is as strong as ever and, although once or twice there was a phrase that felt like it was repeated, it really grips you from the first chapter and in very short time you’re cheering the characters on. The three main characters are all well fleshed out and I would say that none of them are quite what you’re expecting as the author twists the archetypes to make the characters intriguing and different.
There’s plenty of strong supporting characters outside of the three point-of-view characters and the setting is vibrant and fleshed out, especially as we some more of the wonderful fairytale style stories sandwiched between every chapter.
At its heart this feels like an old school adventure that Zorro would be proud of with a healthy helping of monsters. I really love that we’ve come into this setting to explore a whole different kind of culture that values completely different Knacks than the ones we’ve seen before and similarly to the end of Where the Waters Turn Black this sets itself up for future adventures which I am very excited about.
If you’re looking for a new adventure, you’ve found it.
It’s really, properly fun.