Today, it's a book that I read a while ago. It's Pennyblade by J.L. Worrad

 A sharp-tongued disgraced-noble-turned-mercenary has to stop the world collapsing into chaos in this gripping, savagely funny epic fantasy packed with unforgettable characters, for fans of Joe Abercrombie.

Exile. Mercenary. Lover. Monster. Pennyblade.

Kyra Cal’Adra has spent the last four years on the Main, living in exile from her home, her people, her lover and her past. A highblood commrach—the ancient race of the Isle, dedicated to tradition and the perfection of the blood—she’s welcome among the humans of the Main only for the skill of her rapier, her preternatural bladework. They don't care which of the gleaming towers she came from, nor that her grandmother is matriarch of one of Corso’s most powerful families.

But on the main, women loving women is a sin punishable by death. Kyra is haunted by the ghost of Shen, the love of her life, a lowblood servant woman whom Kyra left behind as she fled the Isle.

When a simple contract goes awry, and her fellow pennyblades betray her, Kyra is set onto a collision course with her old life, and the age-old conflict between the Main and the Isle threatens to erupt once more.

Pennyblade tells the story of Kyra Cal ' Adra, a disgraced Commrach of the Isle. Sometimes called elf, sometimes devil and most of the time every profane name you can think of and some you can't.

As an exile, Kyra has used her blade skills to become a Pennyblade, a hired sword. Making her name across the main land, she works for anyone.

With her comrades, Shortleg and Ned. Kyra aids a small village to deal justice to a nefarious tax collector who takes advantage of his position.

However, things are soon to change. Alone and betrayed by her friends. Kyra finds herself at the behest of the church and beholden to Sister Bernadette, a perfecti of the church who compels Kyra to aid her to investigate reports of an evil rising from the depths.

Right, before we get started this books has lots of gratuitous sex, lots of swearing and profanity, violence, topped with a lot more gratuitious sex. Some of it utterly filthy, some of it funny and some of it a bit yuck.

Now, I must admit I have mixed feelings about Pennyblade. I didn't mind the swearing, in fact I loved the swearing and it taught me some to add to my repertoire to be honest. I love a good swear. The sex was gratuitous, some of it a bit questionable and some of it filthily funny. At times it was a bit Tom Jones and some it reminded me of the excesses of Tinto Brass's Caligula.

The story itself is split into two timelines, Kyra in the past and Kyra in the present and you wonder how the two stories will converge. However, Worrad skilfully brings the two stories together quite satisfactorily and I never knew where the story was actually going and how it would eventually be concluded.

My only quibble with the book concerned the first act of the book which spends a large amount of time setting up Kyra's amorality through a series of mishaps and disasters. However, when it comes to the second act I felt that the pace increased quite considerably.

The worldbuilding was interesting, particularly Kyra's backstory (which is effectively the second point of view) who is what's known as a Connrach, which have some similarities to Elves, although this is used interchangeably with Pixie, devil, Fae and various other titles (although these tend represent slurs against the Connrach). The island kingdom that they live on reminds me of Melnibonè mixed with the excesses of the Roman Empire, well more like Tinto Brass's version of the Roman Empire.

Whilst not perfect,I mainly enjoyed this book. It is totally filthy and when I got past the first act I quite enjoyed it. 



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