Readers of David Dalglish should be drawn to label his novel, THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD (TWoB), as RPG fiction, or gamer's fiction. At least this reader wilReaders of David Dalglish should be drawn to label his novel, THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD (TWoB), as RPG fiction, or gamer's fiction. At least this reader will. And that's not a bad thing, in my opinion.
Early on, Dalglish's straightforward storytelling and his choice of main characters made me wonder if the author was a gamer. Harruq and Qurrah Tun are half-orc brothers (they soon find out the other half of their blood is elven rather than human) eking out a living in a humano-centric world, and the details of their plight, as well as how Dalglish treats his characters and the setting around them, took me back to a wonderful time in my life when I couldn't get enough Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms fantasy. For those not in the know, these were some of the first novels released by TSR (now Wizards of the Coast) in the mid to late '80s, the very first offerings that launched a major publishing house based on their Dungeons & Dragons worlds. I ended up contacting the author online while reading this book and wrote that TWoB is conjuring up memories of early Weis, Hickman, and R.A. Salvatore, to which Dalglish responded, "Ding, ding, ding!" So, I assume I nailed it.
I enjoy TWoB for what it is, a dark and gritty fantasy spent with races of the D&D sort -- Harruq as a fighter, Qurrah as a necromancer -- who are faced with some hard decisions. Actually, not so bad for Qurrah, the more oppressed of the two and, hence, the more ambitious, who obviously has a low empathy "stat" and doesn't hesitate to grab for power when it's offered to him, despite it meaning he must fully give in to his evil nature. Harruq is much less evil than his brother, obviously having more of the elven blood in his veins than the orcish, but goes along with Qurrah out of love for his twin (so, yes, I got some of the old Caramon and Raistlin nostalgia here, and you Dragonlance fans will know what I mean).
I don't want to give away any spoilers, but you might imagine the direction Dalglish is taking this in, as we have the dark and selfish Qurrah, and then Harruq, who is much lighter in nature and can see more good in the world. Indeed, Harruq even manages to find love.
The author and I agreed on a book swap, so I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a signed copy of THE COST OF BETRAYAL, which is book II in "The Half-Orcs." I'll be sure to keep you updated right here when I finish this next installment.
Four stars (out of five). Quite recommended for fantasists in general, and highly recommended for gaming enthusiasts or those who like their fantasy served dark with no cream and very little sugar.
Some other books in David Dalglish's "The Half-Orcs":
WILD CARDS I just barely made three stars (2.5) for me. I liked a few stories in it (there was even a four-star tale here and there; counterbalanced bWILD CARDS I just barely made three stars (2.5) for me. I liked a few stories in it (there was even a four-star tale here and there; counterbalanced by a few one-star efforts), but the overall achievement was merely "okay." Many of the shorts were solid in execution, but the book itself was quite hit-and-miss in the overall spirit of the "Golden Age of Heroes" and actually depressing, stamping a rather dejected impression on me in the larger sense. Will I read more in this series? It seems to be popular for a reason, and perhaps it's evolved in execution over the years. I don't think I'll pick up more in the immediate sense, but I'll keep an open mind, perhaps read some more reviews of other books in the series. After all, I'm really jonesing to read more "superhero" fiction. Peter Clines' EX-HEROES was more to my liking, though. I think I'll make Lou Anders'MASKED my next purchase in this genre....more
I enjoyed this book. A lot. Michael Sullivan has now proven to me with AVEMPARTHA that he's definitely worthy of all the hype this independently publiI enjoyed this book. A lot. Michael Sullivan has now proven to me with AVEMPARTHA that he's definitely worthy of all the hype this independently published series has been receiving. It's still not without its blemishes here and there, but these are things that are apparent for lack of a trained copy editor and nothing more, i.e., misplaced commas, minor typos, etcetera. That said, the characters and the story are so excellent and finely crafted, it makes me excuse such trivial tidbits. After all, the six books of "The Riyria Revelations" are small press publications that are putting up big publishing house numbers (I understand the digital sales are tremendous). Based on that alone should tell you that Sullivan has something worth reading. And I concur! I'm ordering the next book in the series, NYPHRON RISING, as an ePub (see, those dang digital sales) and I'm already big time looking forward to finding out where the adventures of Royce and Hadrian land them next.
My hat's off to Michael Sullivan and to his lovely wife and publicist, Robin Sullivan, who I can tell works her tail off to ensure anyone and everyone who likes fantasy knows about this series. I also give it up to the author for dropping a big bomb there at the very end of AVEMPARTHA. I literally chuckled to myself upon reading the final two paragraphs and said, "Good one, mate!"
A solid FOUR STARS (out of five). With a little more technical polish and some tightening of the dialogue, this would be a five star title. I really dug the high stakes adventure feel of this one, as well as the whole "rise of the bedraggled" element. This is fun heroic fantasy. Highly recommended.