Thursday, 24 May 2012
'The Hammer and the Blade' - Paul S Kemp
Egil and Nix are tomb robbers, although they prefer the term adeventurers, and this is exactly what they are doing when we first meet them. Nix, is the quick one, both with his wit and his blade. Egil, is big, strong and a priest of a dead god. With Nix's affinity for locks and traps and Egil's skill at cracking skulls, no tomb is safe.
Most of us, will sooner or later come to a point in life where we ask our selves what the heck we are really doing with our lives. To me, it was getting bored of coding desktop applications, to our 'heroes', it was tomb robbing which finally got to them. Me, I just changed to another field of programming, Egil and Nix decided to buy a brothel. No one was surprised when the infamous last job turned into the penultimate job. It turns out the demon they killed in their last job was a essential part of a plan of one of the mages in the city they decided to retire in. He is not happy. The mage, a very angry and desperate man, turns to both violent and arcane persuasion to coerce our heroes for one final job. This is a lot more fun than watching them mope in the brothel.
If book were food, all the ingredients in The Hammer and the Blade would be very familiar, but sword and sorcery is also one of my favourite dishes. That is, if it's done well, which this one is. It's even very good, so good it brings back fond memories of The Gray Mouser and Fafhrd by Fritz Leiber, or a more recent acquaintance, The Copper Promise by Jennifer Williams. What they all have in common is interesting and engaging characters. Paul S. Kemp drops us straight into the story, without revealing much about the characters' background. Instead, we are fed morsels from their lives throughout the book, but it's all made part of the current plot lines. It makes for a very smooth reading experience and help builds up an interest in the characters. A lot of questions are raised, some are answered in The Blade and the Hammer, but plenty remains for a sequel, which I hope there will be one of. The author also invests time in creating personal conflict for the characters, with tough decisions and moral dilemmas.
The world building takes a step back, and instead Paul S. Kemp focuses on characters and action. I don't mean the world building is bad, it's just not what stands out. At least our writer makes up his own creatures, no orcs or elves in this novel.
The Hammer and the Blade was certainly a book I'll remember for being fun and action packed. I'm a big fan of sword and sorcery, so hopefully we will see more of Egil and Nix in the future.
The Hammer and the Blade weighs in at 432 pages and is published by Angry Robot Books.