Verdict On Crimson Fields (World Of Prime #4) by M.C. Planck (Book Review).

Verdict On Crimson Fields’ is the fourth book in author M.C. Planck’s ‘World Of Prime’ series. This instalment follows Christopher Sinclair, mechanical engineer turned priest of war, across the country in pursuit of a dragon. What he doesn’t realise is that there’s one hiding in his camp and that’s just the beginning of the book.

To briefly recap the story so far, Christopher Sinclair wakes up one day in an alternate world, one ruled by might and magic. After stumbling into a duel, his victory sets off a chain of events that will change this world forever. Because magic makes might, he first challenges the quasi-feudal structure of society by introducing technology that can counter magic or at least kill it. He invents a rifle. Then he arms the peasants and starts an industrial revolution. As you can imagine, the nobility is not particularly happy about this.

One of Christopher’s most endearing qualities is his naiveté when it comes to politics, on this world in particular. In the earlier novels, this actually saves his bacon more than once as the nobility literally stands there gaping at his stupidity, giving him the opportunity to strike first. Mixed in with his success, however, are some spectacular failures, including a death or two (this is a magic world, remember). Here, his stalwart nature saves him once again as he refuses to bow before intimidation.

Christopher’s drive isn’t wholly altruistic as he wants to go home, to his world and his wife and the only way to accomplish this is to stay the course. He has to accumulate enough power to open a gate between the worlds. But as the saying goes, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and during his rapid ascent, Christopher tries to take as many of his allies with him as he can, which brings us here to a ‘Verdict On Crimson Fields’.

As the title suggests, this is a bloody book, full of victory and defeat. Christopher and his allies will face the aforementioned dragon, sorcerers, goblins, risen skeletons, magic and the knights of green and gold. When the toll of battle continues to rise, Christopher has to learn how to compromise. He has to balance his wants and those of his peasant army against the needs of the world as a whole. He never wanted this power, but has slowly come to realise that it’s the only way to make people listen. Might is right. Now his allies are measuring up his fit for the gold throne and Christopher has to decide if he’ll accept that further burden.

What I really enjoyed about this chapter in the greater story is Christopher’s growth. At many points, he looks to his inner circle for advice which he has always done. But this time, he not only listens but learns to be more flexible in his wants. He learns to accept a defeat here in order to gain a victory there and yet he remains clear in his goal: to get home. He also acknowledges that it’s not simply going to be a matter of opening a gate. His enemies are waiting for even that, meaning he’s now fighting to protect two worlds.

But he’s still Christopher, and not to be underestimated, as he warns early in the book: “That’s okay,” he said. “People underestimate me all the time, too.” It was a veritable cottage industry in the Kingdom.

Verdict On Crimson Fields’ is a solid entry in this series. It’s the book that raises the stakes. We’re looking toward the end game now, and Christopher feels almost ready for it. There are still questions to be answered and the matter of alliances may never be fully settled. But I have high hopes for a thrilling conclusion to the series in the fifth and final book ‘Black Harvest’, for which we don’t have a firm release date yet. Next year sometime would work for me.

Kelly Jensen

July 2018

(pub: Pyr/Prometheus. 351 page enlarged paperback and ebook. Paperback: Price: $14.65 (US), £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-63388-437-3. Ebook: Price: $ 9.99 (US), £ 6.35 (UK). ASIN: B073YTM8Y9)

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