Ahoy there mateys! Thought I would take a break from the e-Arc extravaganza. Though the first mate and I have very different reading tastes, occasionally we do recommend books to each other. Books the first mate introduced to me included xom-b, holes, and the perks of being a wallflower. He and I both read the following:
son of the black sword (Larry Correia)
We were talking about the book and I enjoyed his viewpoint so I
ordered asked him to write a review. So you get one from me and a bonus additional review from me crew. Please note that I write like I talk and the first mate writes like he thinks. Hope you enjoy!
From the Captain:
This was a recommendation by me first mate. A fun time was had reading this book. There is a sentient sword that I adore. Even if it has a funny name. Everyone wants to own this sword, but: beware making the choice to pick it up. The sword chooses who will wield it, and the consequences tend to be bloody and unfortunate for those not worthy.
Ashok Vadal is the main character. He starts out as a seemingly simplistic character that embodies the Law. However, the Law is not as it seems and is more complicated than expected. Ashok is probably one of the weirdest characters I have read about in terms of his world view and motivations. This is part of what makes him awesome. His choices get harder and harder throughout the book and how and why he chooses what to do is some of the best parts of the book.
Ashok has a complicated relationship with Devedas, his best friend. Devedas was another highlight of the book. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Only time will tell. Devedas has a sad past, is ambitious, and is subject to envy. Reading his perspective is a fun counterpoint to Ashok.
The bad guy priest is sort of stereotypical. I also found the assassins to be an annoying group with an interesting premise. However I still enjoyed this book. In particular, I liked the magic system. Oh and there is a cool librarian, so bonus for that. A fluff book with a little bit of depth. I will certainly read the next in the series.
From the First Mate:
Having greatly enjoyed Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series and mostly enjoyed his first foray into high fantasy (Into the Storm), I approached Son of the Black Sword with somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, I rather like his writing style and am always eager to read more of the writers whose work I enjoy. On the other, outside of the Monster Hunter series, Correia’s work hasn’t really grabbed me.
Son of the Black Sword, much like Into the Storm before it, is an enjoyable tale that is somewhat hampered by the ever present desire on this reader’s part to ponder its endless influences. Like many a reader, I couldn’t quite stop seeing Ashok as a Judge Dredd knock-off almost to the point of expecting him to cry out “I am the LAW” at more than a few moments. The presence of the Swords and their possible origins reminded me so very much of Fred Saberhagen’s trilogy about world-changing swords. The Inquisitors have many parallels in fantasy, but it was the Mord-siths from Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule that seemed the most apt comparison, what with the special ceremonial attire and hyper specific and grotesque social role. And on and on.
Regardless of from where Correia may have drawn various inspirations, the story and the characters are interesting and entertaining. Our good guys are quite likable and our villains are despicable. We even get a few shades-of-grey characters who are well drawn. Where the novel disappoints is only in comparison to Correia’s better work. Son of the Black Sword works through many standard high fantasy tropes but never quite deconstructs nor spins them in a way that would elevate the work to something other than a well-written run-of-the-mill high fantasy novel. Very enjoyable as long as you’re not expecting any new ground to be broken.
After reading the novel, though, I knew I had to recommend it to the Captain. Why, you may ask? Well, any novel that uses “saltwater” as a curse surely will make the Captain smile
The hardback jacket has this to say about the book:
After the War of the Gods, the demons were cast out and fell to the world. Mankind was nearly eradicated by the seemingly unstoppable beasts, until the gods sent the great hero, Ramrowan, to save them. He united the tribes, gave them magic, and drove the demons into the sea. Ever since the land has belonged to man and the oceans have remained an uncrossable hell, leaving the continent of Lok isolated. It was prophesized that someday the demons would return, and only the descendants of Ramrowan would be able to defeat them. They became the first kings, and all men served those who were their only hope for survival.
As centuries passed the descendants of the great hero grew in number and power. They became tyrannical and cruel, and their religion nothing but an excuse for greed. Gods and demons became myth and legend, and the people no longer believed. The castes created to serve the Sons of Ramrowan rose up and destroyed their rulers. All religion was banned and replaced by a code of unflinching law. The surviving royalty and their priests were made casteless, condemned to live as untouchables, and the Age of Law began.
Ashok Vadal has been chosen by a powerful ancient weapon to be its bearer. He is a Protector, the elite militant order of roving law enforcers. No one is more merciless in rooting out those who secretly practice the old ways. Everything is black or white, good or evil, until he discovers his entire life is a fraud. Ashok isn’t who he thinks he is, and when he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, the consequences lead to rebellion, war—and destruction.
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