Dan Schwent's Reviews > Nifft the Lean

Nifft the Lean by Michael   Shea
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's review
Feb 18, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, 2010
Read from September 17 to 25, 2010

Come then, Mortal. We Will Seek Her Soul:
At the behest of an apparition, Nifft and Haldar kidnap a disgraced warrior and take him to the land of the dead to be reunited with her in exchange for the Wizard's Key. Only things don't go as planned...

The first Nifft story was quite good, a trip to hell with all sorts of horrifying denizens. It was a bit like Fritz Leiber's Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser, only told in the first person and in a meatier style like REH's. Shea's sense of humor and dialogue remind me of Jack Vance's. My favorite part? Having to wrestling the Soultaker, a large manlizard, for a chance to accompany him and the Guide of Ghosts on a trip to the land of the dead.

Pearls of the Vampire Queen:
White gathering pearls in a deadly swamp, Nifft and Barnar learn of a vampire queen and scheme to steal from her.

I liked Pearls even more than the first story. Shea's writing, already quite good, improved a bit in the interval between the tales. The idea of a vampire queen that feeds on blood in exchange for magical protection is a good one. Nifft and Barnar rose a bit in my esteem in this one. Shea never resorts to fantasy stereotypes when it comes to monsters. There were ghuls, lurks, and murderous, pearl-producing polyps.

Fishing the Demon-Sea:
Nifft and Barnar are saved from being torn apart on the rack at the last minute and tasked with traveling to a subworld and braving the Demon-Sea to rescue a noble's spoiled son who was taken by a water demon. Too bad he's such an arrogant little shit...

Nifft and Barnar are a cut above most fantasy characters when it comes to inventiveness. I loved the mine car bit. The giant leeches and scorpion demons were nasty. The subworld was a horrid place I won't soon forget. Gildmirth proved to be a very interesting supporting character. I hope Shea uses him again in the future.

The Goddess in Glass:
Anvil Pastures is in dire peril, in danger of being destroyed by an impending mountain collapse, and it's up to Nifft to lead a force to re-unite the Goddess in Glass with her flock so they can save the day.

The last story was different than the rest in that Nifft wasn't telling it. Other than that, I really liked it. Aliens as gods is always a sf trope that I enjoy.

To sum up, Nifft the Lean was a great read. While slim, the stories are great and the writing is rich. We need more fantasy like this on the racks.
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Reading Progress

09/17 page 1
0.0% "I hope this gets the taste of The Host out of my mouth."
02/20 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Gary I agree with you Dan about the comparison with Jack Vance. The Nift stories are great fun but quite old now. Is Shea even still writing I wonder?

message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent Gary wrote: "I agree with you Dan about the comparison with Jack Vance. The Nift stories are great fun but quite old now. Is Shea even still writing I wonder?"

I think he had something come out last year after a long drought.

message 3: by Steve (new)

Steve He has one of the better stories in the recent Black Wings collection.

Gary thanx Steve.

message 5: by Steve (new)

Steve Thanks to both of you. I've not read very much of Shea, but what I've read I've liked. Yesterday, while at a used book store, I ran across a copy of The Mines of Behemoth, which looked good, but was book # 2 in the series. I wanted to see if there was anything on Goodreads about book #1, and there was. Nifft sounds like something I might like.

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