Before I started Graduate school way back in the late ‘aughts I read a little book called Writ in Blood by James A. Moore. Set in the small town of Serenity Falls, Writ in Blood was a fantastic little book that marked the beginning of a trilogy detailing the horrific past and present of a small town long past its heyday. Sadly by the time I was done with graduate school the Serenity Falls series was out of print. Moore recently entered the fantasy scene with Seven Forges published by the fine folks over at Angry Robot. The novel opens with the mercenary caption Merros Dulver on an expedition into the dangerous Blasted Lands there to investigate the enigmatic Seven Forges; a range of strange mountains. Sent by the Emperor’s Sorcerous advisor, Desh Krohan, Merros is startled to discover that the Blasted Lands and the Seven Forges themselves are not as uninhabited as previously thought.
Howard Andrew Jones’ debut novel The Desert of Souls was one of my favorite novels of 2011. The Bones of the Old Ones , released just this January , takes up bare months after the first novel left off. Asim and Dabir have taken up positions in the city of Mosul and as an uncanny cold grips the desert city the two long time friends find themselves called to action once more this time to aid the mysterious Najya; a woman hunted by a cabal of ancient sorcerer-assassins. The Bones of the Old Ones, even more than in Jones’ first novel, is a pure and unadulterated Swords and Sorcery novel.
Featuring mysterious magicians, a beautiful woman in danger, and two very human yet extraordinarily capable heroes The Bones of the Old One rockets forth at breakneck pace barely pausing for a breath as our two hero manage to stay a hairsbreadth ahead of the villains. Whereas the first novel saw Jones taking time to introduce our Asim and Dabir he all but disposes of that formality here spending what felt like a very brief chapter reacquainting readers with the two protagonists before thrusting them into danger.
Looking for a quick and exciting read a while back I cast my eyes over my ever growing list of books I should read some time (better known as my Goodreads to-read shelf) and settled on Jon Sprunk’s Shadow’s Son. Given my penchant for character-based fantasy I thought it might be a good fit. As it turns out I was right and Shadow’s Sonmakes for an energetic albeit somewhat dark read. Caim is a haunted young man; both literally and figuratively. He is plagued by the memory of his famiy’s death while being constantly followed by a protective spirit named Kit that only he can see. Caim’s tortured past has cast him on a path of violence and darkness and he now works as an assassin. Things get dicey when someone attempts to set Caim up as a fall guy leaving him in possession of the deceased mark’s daughter Josephine. Suddenly, Caim is on a desperate quest to unravel the web of conspiracy in the city of Othir.
Continue reading “Review: Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk”
The Desert of Souls
Howard Andrew Jones
Thomas Dunne, 2011
In 8th Century Baghdad the Captain of the Jaffar’s Royal Guard, Asim and the scholar Dabir are dispatched to uncover the mystery of a rune inscribed relic. The Desert of Souls by Black Gate editor Howard Andrew Jones is a fresh look at the sword and sorcery genre in a Arabic setting full of vibrant characters, dastardly villains, and strange landscapes. As Minsc said best: “Adventure, excitement, and steel on steel.” This is also Jones’ first novel and is perhaps one of the best debuts, likely the best debut, I’ve read since Ian Treglis’ Bitter Seeds last year. The Desert of Souls is, in a word, awesome. I don’t mean awesome in the colloquial sense that awesome has come to embody in recent years (though to be fair that applies as well). No, rather I mean that literally. The Desert of Souls does what the sword and sorcery (hell, any fantasy) story should: it inspires awe.
The Ginger Star
Paizo Publishing, 2008 (orig. 1974)
The Ginger Star is my first exposure to Eric John Stark, Brackett’s hero from Mercury (where he was raised by a primitive race after his parents were killed) and apparently takes place after the earlier adventures The Secret of Sinharat and Talisman of the People (I believe both are in this volume). The Ginger Star begins an arc of stories taking placing on the world Skaith, a distant planet orbiting a dying sun and ruled by a cruel cabal of wizards known as Wandsmen. The Ginger Star opens with Stark arriving on Skaith looking for Simon Ashton the man who essentially taught him to be human. Along the way he gets wrapped up in the planet’s internal struggles and is caught between a faction that wants to leave the planet and the Wandsmen who wish to maintain their iron control over the populace.