Fafhrd is a huge Northern barbarian with a liking for strong wine and direct action. The Gray Mouser is more subtle, a slight, lightning-quick swordsman with some crude magical knowledge. Together, they adventure all over the place, stealing treasures, killing monsters (plus a whole bunch of normal people) and seeing strange sights. Their travels take them across vast oceans and between worlds, but tend to start or end in Lankhmar, a city of thieves and wonders, and involve various mysterious sorcerers and dancing girls.
The pair featured in short stories published over a fifty-year period starting in 1939. These stories were hugely influential, being referenced by countless later authors and forming part of the inspiration for Dungeons & Dragons (and therefore countless imitators and successors). Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser aren’t amazingly well-known now, but they’re part of the roots of the fantasy genre.
Continue reading “Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser – Fritz Leiber (Review)”
After being brutally murdered by necromancers, Cal returns to consciousness as a dungeon core – a sentient lump of rock with the power to shape its immediate surroundings. Paired with Dani, a will-o’-the-wisp, Cal sets about stocking his dungeon with monsters and traps so that he can consume incautious adventurers and grow his power.
If the above paragraph sounds familiar to you, then thank you for being such a loyal & observant reader, and apologies for basically re-using the opening paragraph from another review. It’s not laziness though – honest – I just want to begin with the point that this book is incredibly similar to Jonathan Smidt’s Bone Dungeon. Plot point by plot point and archetype by archetype, the books follow the exact same pattern.
Continue reading “Dungeon Born – Dakota Krout (Review)”
The giants are getting smaller. Once, they were titanic near-immortal beings, warriors and philanthropists. Now, each inbred generation is smaller than the last, and as they decline physically, they decline morally as well, becoming more brutish, more cannibalistic, and more obsessed with restoring their diminishing size. They rule swinishly over a half-ruined city where humans are food and servants.
Petit is the youngest and smallest of the giants, shunned by his own race and feared by the humans for his violent outbursts and occasional consumption of human flesh. The book follows his growth to adulthood in a decaying society, navigating the brutal ogre court and his own divided nature.
Continue reading “Petit : The Ogre Gods – Hubert Boulard & Bertrand Gatignol (Review)”
If you only looked at Western bestseller lists and film rankings, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Egyptian mummies are the only fantasy storyline which Africa has ever produced. But you’d be wrong – and I was thrilled to see that Children of Blood and Bone has brought a long-neglected mythology into young adult fiction.
We need more African stories. There’s an incredibly rich tradition of storytelling across the continent, which remains largely unrepresented in Western publishing. Tomi Adeyemi’s novel seems to draw mainly on Nigerian culture and mythology for inspiration, but I hope it heralds a great variety of stories from a great many more countries.
Continue reading “Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi (Review)”
After an unjust execution, Ryan returns to consciousness as a dungeon core – a sentient lump of rock with the power to shape its immediate surroundings. Paired with Erin, a celestial fairy, Ryan’s goddess-given task is to challenge adventurers, stocking his dungeon with monsters so that questing heroes can gain experience.
There are complications to this though; Ryan has a magical affinity to darkness (necromantic energy), which is not only totally opposed to Erin’s magic/morals, but also a beacon to higher-levelled evil beings who see him as an ally or a pawn. Living up to Erin’s expectations involves not using the full scope of his power, but living at all means he needs to get stronger, fast.
Continue reading “Bone Dungeon – Jonathan Smidt (Review)”
In the last days of WWII, desperate to change the course of the war, occult Nazis open a portal to hell; this is a classic occult Nazi tactic that will doubtless be familiar to you. Although US special forces eventually manage to close the portal before reality itself is unwritten, something still manages to come through.
That something is a juvenile demon, named “Hellboy” by the remaining allied troops. Initially intended to be a world-ending weapon for the Third Reich, the baby monster is instead adopted by a scientist and taken to the US. Years pass, and the demon becomes a vital asset to humanity, fighting monsters as part of the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence).
In 2004, occult Nazis are nothing but a distant memory, except – surprise! – they’re all still alive and now they’re back to open a new portal to hell and unleash chaos. Hellboy’s attempts to stop them are hampered by both his complicated personal life and the way that everything he does plays right into their hands.
Continue reading “Hellboy (2004) – Review”
‘Imagine you could hide a secret. Forever.’
Set in an alternate past in which the binding of books is a magical process, people have their most traumatic memories erased and bound into books.
I have to admit, I initially wanted to read The Binding mainly because I kept seeing the gorgeous cover in the bookshop where I used to work and I coveted it, which feels quite appropriate. Having read it, I really don’t know what genre I would peg The Binding as being.
Continue reading “The Binding – Bridget Collins (Review)”