Outcast Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

A review by Nalini Haynes

The Outcast Blade is a historical paranormal fantasy with Machiavellian politics, adventure, werewolves and romance, set mostly in Venice, Italy in about the 17th century or thereabouts (my history is rusty).  I loved the first in this trilogy; setting werewolves in a historical setting gave them a freshness: urban fantasy with werewolves is getting a bit same old, same old.  Grimwood created such a sense of place that Venice was almost a character in her own right, although I’ve been assured by friends who’ve been that the city stinks to high heaven.  The smell doesn’t quite come through. ;)

I am somewhat confused about what Tycho, the male protagonist, is.  Sometimes it seems he’s a vampire and at other times he seems to be a werewolf, but he’s not the same creature as others who are definitely werewolves.  It could be that Tycho’s self-discovery is made alongside the reader, which is why I haven’t Wikipedia’ed or googled it.  I try to avoid spoilers where practical.

The second in the series was a really good Act II, well paced, carrying the plot forward, developing the relationships further.  My only criticism is Grimwood’s habit of splitting sentences in two. So there’s a full stop between clauses.  I found this quite distracting.  Act I was reviewed from an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) but Act II wasn’t an ARC so criticisms of the text are fair.

The hiatus at the end of Act II is a good one, with a partial resolution to tide the reader over until next year.  I think this series will appeal to Game of Thrones fans although it’s not as hefty nor does it have as many characters.  Highly recommended.