Chris Willirch mines Asian and Asian-inspired mythology for The Scroll of Years: A Gaunt and Bone Novel, which is a gem of a fantasy adventure.
Persimmon Gaunt, the farm girl turned poet and thief, and her lover, Imago Gaunt, the best second-story man alive who is in his ninth decade but looks and acts like a much younger man, are a great romantic pairing and an enchanting couple of rogues. They have lived a wild and free lifestyle and fought epic battles together and apart but now Persimmon is pregnant and they are thinking of settling down.
But the fates have other plans for Gaunt, Bone and their baby, and the couple are soon caught up in a rip-roaring adventure on two intertwined worlds. For the sake of the child, Gaunt lives in a world of monks and mountain peaks while Bone faces wizards, dragons, and deadly Night Auditors who steal people’s minds and leave them empty shells. The pair have colorful allies as well as delicious foes and the whole book plays out like an Asian action adventure game or film at breakneck pace.
The Asian culture has such great mythological characters and settings and this book takes full advantage of them as it weaves many stories into the plot, based upon the philosophy and characters particularly of China. Willrich has done an amazing job of capturing the intricacies of the philosophies of the East as well as its fantastic creatures of legend and landscapes of Chinese painting.
The ending of the book is less satisfying than the rest of it but since it is titled a “Gaunt and Bone Adventure,” one suspects there will be more books to tell more of the story and lead us to something more satisfactory in the long run. Certainly we can hope that there will be another installation in the series some time soon.
As a bonus, the book also contains the first Gaunt and Bone short story, which explains how the couple met.
In the meantime lovers of fantasy adventure will delight in meeting Gaunt and Bone and the thieves and magical creatures who surround them in a land of mist and mystery, poetry and political and religious intrigue. The book is highly recommended for its excellent richness of detail, story-telling, and memorable characters who will remain in the readers’ minds long after the story is done.