Last Updated on February 14, 2024
The Crown of Omens is the exhilarating prequel novella to The Fangs of War, which kicks off E.J. Doble’s The Blood and Steel Saga with an absolute bang. Imagine Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes, but just make it a bit shorter and a whole lot more brutal.
Set entirely during one fateful night 50 years before the start of The Fangs of War, The Crown of Omens focuses on the Tarazzi raid on the Casantri harbour which ends up launching these two nations into war. Each chapter switches back and forth between the Tarazzi invaders and the Provenci soldiers, and it quickly becomes clear that no one is safe and zero punches are being pulled.
The Crown of Omens has to be one of the most unique, experimental, and riveting novellas I have ever read. What makes it stand out from the crowd is its bold, unique, and unconventional storytelling set-up. Almost none of these extremely morally grey characters are named, instead being referred to by their positions/roles in the fight. But what’s even more interesting, is the fact that each new chapter launches you into a new POV; that being the killer of the last POV character you were only just reading from.
Why yes, this story is indeed relentlessly grim and filled with death and despair. Though while it might sound like this unconventional storytelling method would make for a very hectic and possibly detached reading experience, the opposite couldn’t be more true.
With The Crown of Omens, Doble proves that a skilled author doesn’t need a lot of words/pages to establish characters, world, and atmosphere of the highest quality. The imagery is incredibly vivid, every action scene is riveting, and all the emotional beats hit way harder than you could ever have anticipated.
Now, it almost feels cliché to compare a new grimdark author to Joe Abercrombie, but does that really matter when the comparison is so apt and well-earned? In fact, I would personally take Doble’s works over Abercrombie’s all day, every day. His visceral yet lyrical prose just grabs you by the throat and makes every single scene and character come to life before your eyes, for better or worse. And holy smokes, if he doesn’t know how to set a scene!
The Crown of Omens is the perfect introduction to Doble’s excellent skill as an author and storyteller, and while it works magnificently as a standalone, I can guarantee that it will leave you hungering for more in the best way possible. Lucky for you, there are already two main novels in The Blood and Steel Saga just waiting for you to devour them. I truly can’t recommend The Crown of Omens highly enough, this is just food for every grimdark lover’s (dark and empty) soul!