The Darkslayer: Wrath of the Royals – Book 1 by Craig Halloran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There isn’t a lot that distinguishes this book, the first on a series, from any of a number of stories based in the legacy of Howard or Leiber. Darkslayer: Wrath of the Royals fits firmly into this.
The setting is the world of Bish, a standard fantasy world with all that implies, to the point that it feels almost like a Dungeons and Dragons session put to paper. The hero is Venir, a ranger turned mighty-thewed warrior (sorry, couldn’t resist…) and his thief companion Melegal, essentially Fafrhd and the Grey Mouser under slightly different names. When they make the mistake of crossing the wrong set of nobles in the city of Bone, they have are forced to flee, setting forth onto a life of adventure and combat and so on…
In other words, there’s nothing here that anyone with a background in fantasy RPG’s will find unusual, which is both good and bad.
The Standard Fantasy Setting means that the story is easy to get into. without having to explain too much about how the world works, the reader can get into the story fairly quickly, The illustrations that accompany the book are very well done, and the heroes face off against a truly demonic enemy that rises above the standard sword-bait orc’s. The cosmology of the universe is also interesting – basically the world is an amusement created by a supremely bored godlike being. And to the writers credit, the story doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Its a very generic story, almost to the point of ticking off various boxes on the fantasy checklist. The layout of the story is also problematic, often jumping back and forth between characters. It is also burdened with a rather long prologue that basically functions as an info dump. The dialogue is a somewhat stilted and the prose baffling.
In short, not terribly original as fantasy stories go, but again, that’s not a bad thing. If you’re looking for an amusing read, this would be a good place to start.