The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson REVIEW

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson REVIEW
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Back in 1954, Poul Anderson released his novel The Broken Sword. Not many have heard of it because a little book came out that year took all the spotlight… Some book called The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

And I admit, I didn’t know about The Broken Sword until a year ago. (Was slightly embarrassed, especially since I’d enjoyed a well-worn copy of the Poul Anderson short story collection The Armies of Elfland in my youth. And I’ve been aware of Anderson’s popular novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, of which I still need to read.)  I found out about it after reading an excerpt of Richard K. Morgan’s novel The Steel Remains that included a quote from Sword:

‘I think you look on death as your friend,’ she murmured. ‘It is a strange friend for a young man to have.’ ‘The only faithful friend in all the world,’ he said bitterly. ‘Death is the only one sure to be at your side.’

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Cover of the 1st edition from 1954. First published by Abelard-Schuman.

I was immediately intrigued, and after reading the synopsis, reading the excerpt, I thought I’d have a go. Though before I go on, this book isn’t as kid friendly as LOTR. Sure LOTR isn’t “children’s literature”, but unlike that Hobbit tale, Sword takes a grittier tone.

That’s to be expected, especially since our protagonist’s father Orm the Strong (No relation to the character King Orm from Aquaman.) is a Viking: and savage he is, raiding the coasts and surrounding lands… Unknown to Orm, one family he decides to slay is the family of a witch. The witch escapes, and puts a curse on Orm that would take his firstborn son away from the world of men.

Before Orm’s child Skafloc is christened, he’s kidnapped by the Elf Earl Imric, and replaced with a troll made to look exactly like Skafloc. Thus, Imric raises the boy…And I won’t spoil the rest.

The characters are what truly makes this Fantasy standout, at least in 1954. The characters do good things, and yet at the same time they’re just as capable of bad deeds as well. The elves are just as bad as the trolls at times, and the trolls are just as heroic in certain scenes. Nowadays, you can find shelves of books with characters like this, but it’s nice to read a book before that was mainstream Fantasy. Best part about Anderson is that he didn’t try to emulate Tolkien’s opus—he did his own thing.

Looking at the setting, I have to say I’ve never seen anything like it. Being a story about

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The cover from the 1977 Del Rey edition, with art by the talented Boris Vallejo… My favorite cover for the tale!

Vikings, Elves and Trolls, one would assume the book would only be based on Norse myth and legend. He also included Celtic, Greek, Irish, and Asian myth just to name a few. I’ve read books where authors attempt to stuff everything from everywhere in a novel and seeing them fail miserably in making their tale into a coherent narrative. Anderson makes it work, and makes it look effortless. (I’ll be studying this book for years to come from a writer’s perspective.)

The plot fires off at a steady clip. It may be a sixty five year old book, it still had plenty of twists I didn’t see coming, except for a few scenes—and unfortunately the ending. The ending feels like one I’ve read far too many times in other books, and in particular the Epic Fantasy subgenre. Is it a horrible ending? Not really.  Just a little bit anticlimactic.

Overall, I give the book 4 stars.

Anderson was a writer decades ahead of his time. The Broken Sword should appeal to fans of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion novels, Viking sagas, and Lord of the Rings. (GoT fans as well, and fans of Dungeons & Dragon novels.)

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A big announcement !

(NOTE: If you saw this post on my other blog, you can ignore this post.)BladeOfTheBroken-ebook-web

My novel Blade of the Broken, is coming out in one week! 🙂

It’s very weird to say that… I’ve been telling you guys since November 2011 that I was working on my novel. I’m a bit nervous, like a parent taking their firstborn child to daycare for the first time. But you can’t keep your child away from the world around them.

You have to be able to let your child find its place… My book is essentially my firstborn child. I’ve got to let him take his first steps someday, rather than keep him in a file cabinet.

And that is what I’m going to do… On the 13th, I’m having a baby shower—err I mean online book release party! And I want my blog readers to join in the fun also! The party will be on Facebook, and is open to anybody, anywhere with a Facebook account! And it’s all day! (:

I’ll be giving you the scoop on the journey I took to get to this point of publishing. I’ll be answering any kind of questions you may have about the writing process, books, or any other questions you have. (Heck, we could even argue about what pizza is best cold!) I’ll even have a special giveaway!

In the end, I’d be honored if you joined me in the book release mania. The link is below.

https://www.facebook.com/events/306579109543374/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

P.S. Blade of the Broken will also eventually be selling in paperback also. I haven’t forgotten about you paper aficionados! (: (The latest proof I have is quite sexy.:) )

The Nameless Dwarf by D.P Prior REVIEW

When a writer sends me an email requesting a review, I get a little nervous. There is no guarantee I will like the author’s book, and I prefer not to write a scathing review. Which why I avoid writing bad reviews of books, and move on. I’ve posted a scathing review before, and deleted it because I didn’t have anything constructive to say to help the author.

Thankfully that wasn’t the situation with D.P Prior’s novel The Nameless Dwarf.

Click image to buy from Amazon.com!

Click image to buy from Amazon.com!

The Nameless Dwarf novel take place in the same universe as Prior’s Shader novels (The first of which is Cadman’s Gambit.),but in a part that is more primitive and barbaric than the world previously in the Shader novels. No guns here, and no post apocalyptic Australia.

At the core of the novel, the plot is a tale of redemption. The main character, Nameless, wields an evil black ax, and the ax made him slaughter his own people, and drive them out of their home. In revulsion of his horrible deeds, he stays away from his fellow dwarfs, and shaves off his beard marking him a dwarf. He drowns himself in alcohol to stave off his memories that haunt his mind.

But when Nameless finds out they have fled to the dark lands of Qlippoth, a land of monsters and constantly changing landscapes, he goes on a quest to save them from certain extinction, even though he knows they will probably kill him before he can help.,,And I’d better stop before I spoil the epic plot, and twists. 🙂

Prior has written yet another great and original novel in the Fantasy genre. And he took a big risk making a dwarf the main character, in a genre flooded with stories with elves and young wizards in training. This is another Fantasy for adults that cover very complex themes that people deal with everyday. The Nameless Dwarf is a must read.

I give this tale 5 stars out of 5!

NOTE: Thanks Derek for the reviewers copy!

Bayne’s Climb by Ty Johnston REVIEW

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Sword & Sorcery seems to be making a comeback. Mostly among indie writers like B.V  Larson, Michael Sullivan, David Dalglish, and many others. (Big publishers seem to have forgotten and/or abandoned the genre.)

Among these quality indie Sword & Sorcery writers, there are a lot of imitators, and wannabes. Bayne’s Climb however, is no imitation eBook!

The plot is like a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, mixed with old school elements of S&S. The main character Bayne, is on a quest for revenge, and is on a personal journey to find out who he is. (Also if you’ve followed Western movies and TV shows, you’ll notice a few references to those. And you will notice that the story could have been made a Western.) I won’t say anymore on plot.

The character of Bayne is a very human protagonist, and I really liked his personality. (He reminded me a bit of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne if they ever were in Fantasy tales.)  Bayne kills many people, not always because he wants to, but because they won’t leave him alone. I liked that he wasn’t a mindless killer, and that Johnston made Bayne a character actually thought about his actions, and about the world around him.

Let’s talk about the writing style. The style was short and to the point. I felt like I climbing with Bayne on the gray mountain, and I could hear his sword hacking into flesh and bone. (Ty’s horror stories have helped a lot in his action writing.)

Overall, I really like this novella!  I give the book 4 out of 5 stars, and will be reading more of Johnston’s tales!

Availible wherever eBooks are sold.

Note: Thanks Ty for the free reviewer’s copy!

The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff by Philip Athans & Mel Odom REVIEW

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Not many novels of Sword & Sorcery are written nowadays, due to audiences demanding Epic Fantasies that read like Game of Thrones, and/or Lord of the Rings. I discovered S&S for myself entirely by chance. One day, I was flipping through the TV Guide, to see what was on. And, whattaya know , Conan the Destroyer with Arnold Schwarzenegger was on. And man, it was awful. Not the best intro to the old school Sword & Sorcery genre.

Then, awhile later, I was at my local library, and I discovered the original Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs on a dusty shelf. I grabbed a Tarzan book , I believe it was titled Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. I devoured it in one day. After that I wanted more Sword & Sorcery!

In my quest for more S&S, I read Michael Moorcock, Robert E. Howard, David Gemmell, and many other fine authors of S&S. All these S&S books were great works of Fantasy.

So, I had huge expectations for The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff by Philip Athans (Baldur’s Gate) & Mel Odom (The Left Behind Apocalypse Series).

The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff starts off with our hero (a barbarian called Arron of the Black Forest) leaving his homeland, after all of his tribe is frozen in a glacier. He is the last of his kind. Arron goes on a journey, to the colonies of the empire he hates. called The Heteronomy.

Arron tries to fit in with these foreigners, and they all hate him, and call him a savage, and try to kill him. When he kills a man attacking him, he runs out of town, chased by blood thirsty Bounty Hunters……

And that is all I’m going to say about the book’s story. No spoilers for you! 🙂

The plot is fast. Action is realistic and brutal. The villains are wonderfully devious. The characters are fully realized. Overall, The Haunting of Dragon’s Cliff , is an excellent piece of work.

I give the book 5 out of 5 stars! I highly recommend it for fans of old school Sword & Sorcery!

Available in ebook formats only.

Imaro by Charles Saunders REVIEW

Premise

Imaro is a bastard child, his mother leaves him with her tribe , and he fights to gain acceptance. He leaves eventually, to find his place among different people. But supernatural forces will interfere.

Review

Tired of European style heroic fantasy? Look no further than Imaro by Charles Saunders. Instead of a European style setting, it takes place in an African style setting. Exciting right? Saunders was inspired by Africa, and the many African myths, and has used them to make an entirely new and exotic locale for his tales. It’ll change your mind about the Sword & Sorcery genre forever.

Imaro is not just a barbarian: he is a human, not another invincible Achilles we see so much of in fantasy nowadays.

Like all S&S stories, you won’t be surprised by blood , swordplay, and power mad sorcerers. And don’t forget femme fatales.

There are no lulls in the plot, it’ll keep you interested until the end. Recommended for fans of Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Homer, and Fritz Lieber.

I give Imaro 3 1/2  stars out of 5!