Salvation Taverns offers a classic quest narrative, complete with a party of do-gooders, accumulated over chapters, pursued by strange creatures and elite soldiers (here, Spytes and the Scarlet Bans) and facing overwhelming odds, in this case an empire that bans books and demands citizens wear metal sleeves denoting each individual’s trade and standing. But Goldsmith balances the escapes, travels, friend-making, and betrayals with the tales of the Rooke, who in each chapter visits a tavern (The Dragon’s Toenail; The Glittering Raptor) and unspools a yarn. These awaken something in the listeners, reveal urgent backstory, and give Goldsmith opportunity to play in a host of fantasy subgenres.
The stories feature demons, pirates, purple foxes, and a host of figures of legend. Their narratives often are connected, with characters making multiple appearances. Before the Rooke regales a tavern, Goldsmith often devotes a perspective section to new characters who will become embroiled in the cause. This fills out the cast and world, but—combined with the storytelling—comes at the expense of narrative momentum. But Goldsmith’s fantasy asks readers to dig in deeper than most page-turners: it’s about gathering, sharing a tale, and making one’s own magic in the world.
Takeaway: Fantasy of storytelling deftly blending the epic and the cozy.
Comparable Titles: Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer, Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-