Alan Dehaan's Reviews > The Hammer and the Blade

The Hammer and the Blade by Paul S. Kemp
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's review
Jul 26, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites
Recommended to Alan by: Paul Kemp
Recommended for: Fans of Fantasy, Fans of Gritty Fantasy, Fans of Indiana Jones-Style Adventures
Read in July, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

I have been a fan of Paul S. Kemp's since his first Erevis Cale short story appeared in The Halls Of Stormweather. As with many practitioners of the art of writing it seemed as if every book he released was improved upon the last. And it continued this way through Shadowrealm. Unfortunately for me, the next set of novels he wrote were in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and I do not truly enjoy Star Wars so with some trepidation and a load of guilt I avoided them.

When he announced he was working on a new novel in a setting of his own making I was overjoyed. I have been on record in the past as stating I would love to see what Mr. Kemp could do with his own world-building. Once he announced a plea for fans to pre-order his work on Amazon to show support I quickly joined in as if pre-ordering would alleviate the guilt I felt for not supporting an author I so enjoyed when he moved on to other works.

So all that being said as a preamble, the short-form of the review is this: 'Forgive me O Author for I have sinned, and I will now seek out your previous novels that I have avoided for I had indeed forgotten how much talent your fingertips can evoke.'

This work was very strong. Mr. Kemp is a descriptive writer but is not dry with it. His words can draw you into a scene and make you see every last thing that is going on in them. His words are like a brush upon the canvas of your imagination.

Upon the opening Prologue, which featured a pair of adventurers on what they were deciding was their last tomb-robbery, I found myself getting drawn in. To their brief attempt at business-running through to the long caravan trip in the wastes I was drawn in on the descriptions and the adventure.

Then came the tomb towards the end. Vivid and well thought out, a good edit and refreshing of the idea of a fantasy 'dungeon'.

Now as it may have been noticed, I gave this work 5 stars. This does not mean it is flawless in my eyes. There are two main issues that I felt could have been improved. The first is that we knew too much of the villain's motivations and plans while the main character was kept in the dark.

This is a taste issue, of course, but I prefer to be in a similar space as the Main Character unless it's one of those mysteries they never find out and it enhances the story. While having several pages follow the main villain around did much to characterize him and his family in a positive way, I felt as if I learned too much.

Secondarily, and once again this is a taste issue, for a work sub-titled 'A Tale of Egil & Nix' and that Egil is the foremost character on the cover he actually takes a backseat in the work. Nix is the main Point-of-View character and I felt as if it should be balanced. Of course, due to some of the pain in Egil's back-story and how not everything is fully explained I think there is probably an authorial reason for it. And it is a taste issue, as I said, but it still stuck out to me.

There is a minor issue as well, and as with all things it is one of taste. There is faux-swearing in this novel, with "Fak" substituting for a word that is stronger yet rather prevalent in American culture. I am unsure if this was an editorial decision or if it was authorial intent, but I do dislike the 'Fak' and 'Frack' and 'Frick' and others of that nature. It causes to take me out of the work.

Having quantified those, however, I maintain this is a very strong novel. There is a strong character arc in it for Nix and I can see how, if the author is both able to and desires to do more works, this can be expanded upon. But be warned, the subject matter is strong in this work and it is grittier than many are used to coming from a Fantasy novel and so you may want to get a hold of a lighter book as a palate cleanser for after you are finished.
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