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Walter Jon Williams is a legend in science fiction and fantasy, and writes pretty much the opposite of grimdark swords and sorcery, an excellent tonic when you have read too many depressing fantasy novels. That isn't to say that there aren't rogues and ambivalent characters (Quillifer himself is not exactly a standard hero), but his books are full of adventures, wit, and warmth - and Quillifer is his best book in ages, perhaps ever.
The story is set in a kingdom during quasi-Elizabethian times - there are knights and lords, but also cannon and playwrights and guilds and all of the other trappings of early modernity. There are many parallels to our own world as well, but not everything matches exactly, including the fact that the world of Quillifer had some magic in the past. The story itself is a coming-of-age story of the really likable rogue that is Quillifer - adventurer, scoundrel, and pawn of fate - as he makes his fortune in trade, wars, love,, and the court. I won't give away much, but it is always engaging, the detail level is terrific, and the language sings.
I strongly recommend this book if you like good old-fashioned swashbuckling fantasy with a slight twist. The reader becomes stronger throughout, and this is the first book of a planned series, so I am eagerly awaiting the next!
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