Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Bold Surprise

Sam Sykes, “The City Stained Red” (Gollancz, 2014)

It opens as a bog standard fantasy: an adventuring party entering a city.  You meet a fighter, a cleric, an elf, a mage, a thief.  It’s good, but not really too remarkable.  But there’s plenty of action, and the tone of the writing is somewhat addictive.  You keep on reading & before you know it you realize this is really good!

There are twists and depths to the world building and the characters.  What I presumed to be rather generic fantasy templates are in fact unique well-developed characters.  And the world is deep and rich and very very weird.

How many fantasy novels have kaiju battles? This one has a couple.

There are demons and cultists and thieves and murderers.  Giant spiders who eat humans and poop out silk.

It’s a big scary dark world.  But saving you from the grimmest of grimdark is Sam Sykes’ tone.  He’s quick, witty and quippy.  At times I was reminded of Whedon, given the sense that this is a team book.

I love this!  I can’t believe I have to wait until next year for the next volume.

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