Book Review: The Crimson Pact: Volume One – Paul Genesse (Ed.)

Crimson Pact
About The Crimson Pact: Volume One (2011)

Crimson PactThe moment of the demons’ defeat became their greatest victory.

In the carnage after the last great battle against the demons, a doomed general discovers their hidden victory. Instead of being annihilated, unspeakable evil escaped into many unsuspecting worlds. To fight them, the men and women of the Crimson Pact must sacrifice everything—including their own lives.

In volume one, explore 26 stories (over 500 pages in print!) based on the worlds of The Crimson Pact about the valiant men and women who refuse to let the demons win, and those unfortunate souls caught in the epic struggle raging across the multiverse. New York Times Bestselling author and Campbell award nominee, Larry Correia and many urban fantasy, steampunk, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy writers tell the tales in this diverse collection of short stories, flash fiction, and novellas. Volume One has stories by Patrick M. Tracy, Richard Lee Byers, Jess Hartley, Donald J. Bingle, Chris Pierson, Barbara J. Webb, Kelly Swails, Sarah Hans, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Sarah Kanning, Isaac Bell, Elaine Blose, Kathy Watness, Daniel Myers, Justin Swapp, Rebecca L. Brown, Gloria Weber, Garrett Piglia, T.S. Rhodes, Lester Smith, Chanté McCoy, Suzzane Myers, EA Younker, Craig Nybo, and Larry Correia.

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Review: The Crimson Pact

Heaven and hell, angels and demons, the battle between good and evil is an enduring theme that will never grow old. The last time I was fighting demons was on the PS3 in Darksiders so the prospect of a compilation of short stories involving battles against demons was certainly appealing. A variety of authors came forward to contribute to this collection but is this a selection of gems?

The compilation begins with The Failed Crusade where General Cruek Ostor has won yet another battle against the demons. Having captured one demon, Kaivahno, General Ostor is horrified to learn that there are many worlds and that previously the demons had access to only a few. The crusade against them has been a clever orchestration to open the doors to more worlds and the demons have escaped. To follow them Ostor must be killed in his world which he gladly allows. This story is the focal point of the anthology and the other writers have taken this theme to develop their own takes on the Crimson Pact – the alliance sworn to battle the demons to the death and across many worlds.

The selection of 26 stories may be united by the same theme but they are very different in their execution. Some have a modern setting, others appear to be from a medieval period. The likes of monks, students and gangsters all pop up at some point and you’ll immediately feel refreshed at the versatility that these writers offer. Sometimes the story will build slowly to the presence of a demon and an inevitable battle, other times we’ll be thrown straight into the mix and have no time to pause for breath.

Readers will vary in their preferences but aside from The Failed Crusade which I thought was a brilliant opening, I would say my favourite stories from this selection were Solitary Life, To Duty Sworn, Hidden Collection, The Transition, Brotherhood: Fall of New York, Frankie’s Girl and Love, Gangsters, and Demons. Solitary Life in particular was very good but I would highly recommend all of the stories I have listed here.

As with all collections it’s difficult to please every reader and I will be honest by saying that not all of the stories here appealed to me. I felt that every writer embraced the theme set out in The Failed Crusade but some stories just didn’t work as well for me. I would still recommend The Crimson Pact which has a rewarding collection of stories and just because I didn’t enjoy all of them certainly doesn’t mean other readers will feel the same. I’ll certainly be partaking of Volume Two.

The Crimson Pact: Volume One is a good collection of stories, well put together and embracing the theme and world of one story, which is impressive in itself. While not all of the stories appealed to me, there were still some that made for fantastic reads. Whether you’re a fan of demons or not this is still a good collection.

Verdict: 3/5

(Book source: reviewer received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review)

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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