Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

Finished off Sam Sykes' The City Stained Red.

Great stuff.

There are a few authors I'd compare Sam's style to. Might give any readers a frame of reference as to not only my preferences in terms of grouping, but how Sam compares to others.

K J Parker, author of books like the Folding Knife.

Mark Lawrence, author of series like The Broken Empire (Prince of Thorns, etc...)

Joe Abercrombie, author of books like Half A King.

These authors tend to be a little darker.

They tend to be a little... funnier. There is a fair amount of sarcasm not only in how the world acts, but in how the characters tend to see themselves.

They are also solid writers.

In the City Stained Red, a group of adventurers makes their way to the City of Silk to collect overdue pay only to wind up knee deep in the dead.

How can a game master use such a fantasy novel in their own games?

1. Steal the Setting: The City of Silk has a lot going on for it. There are numerous guilds, organizations, and tension that run underneath it all. The city is known for it's silk and all of the sudden, one of the merchants of silk starts making silk better than anyone else. His secret? Hey, feed those giant spiders people! Turns out a strong silk.

In terms of silk, anyone remember the old Arduin books? These were little fantasy books meant to be their own system as well as work with old school Dungeons and Dragons. One of the things you could get in it, was Spiga Silk. There were different types of these monsters, indicated by color, but at best, one of these types of silk had the protection of plate mail armor and hey, as a thief? Effectively wearing no armor meant a boost to your skills.

2. Blow it up: They always say you should murder your children right? By the end of the City Stained Red, the City of Silk has undergone massive change. Religious wars, guild wars, and perhaps the end of the world on the horizon. Hundreds if not thousands of people dead, whole power structures shifted. All the things that make moving forward even more entertaining.

3. Surprise! At the end of the book, the 'leader' of the group discovers that a 'friend' of his is not what he seems. Not what he seems at all. It's going to lead to some entertainment in the next book for sure.

There are other bits I could talk about. There's the world structure itself. The familiar yet different fantasy races. The icons that fit into standard fantasy given a slight tilt to make them interesting to the reader.

But really you should get yourself a copy and read it.