Gail Z Martin “Scourge” (Solaris, 2017)
If you love big fat fantasy novels, you might want to check this one out. It’s the start of a new series (trilogy I assume), and will provide you with lots of that fantasy comfort read goodness.
Set almost exclusively in the city state of Ravenwood, our protagonists are a trio of brothers. Undertakers by inherited vocation, they find themselves at odds with the rich and powerful men who rule their city.
At this point let me say that there is a lot of back story here. It feels like a large chunk of the book is given up to expository passages explaining what is actually going on in Ravenwood. Yet somehow I feel like I still don’t understand it? How can that be? I feel like I kept reading and reading long passages that never really clarified things. Why is there so much blood magic? What’s up with the monsters? Why are we spending so much time worrying about trade agreements? After the Star Wars prequels, why is anyone telling stories about trade agreements?
Fortunately I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the characters either. All three brothers felt basically the same. Angry and impetuous. Their skill sets may be different, but their personalities, not so much. And why do they worry so much about keeping their secrets when their brothers eventually don’t care?
It’s such stuff that doesn’t seem to have weight all the way down.
All that being said, Martin’s storytelling mechanics are good enough that I found myself happily reading along just to find out what happened next.
If you are looking for a fantasy comfort read, albeit one with some horror elements, you can do a lot worse than Scourge.
Thanks to NetGalley and Solaris for a review copy.