Saturday, March 4, 2017

Sung In Blood by Glen Cook

Sung In Blood
Written by Glen Cook
Published by Night Shade Books
$14.99 trade/$10.79 Amazon

I've enjoyed Glen Cook's writing for years. His Black Company themes or dark fantasy have been incorporated into my Dungeons and Dragons games many times.

Seeing Night Shade Books come out with his older works, has allowed me to read more than just his popular works.

Alas I wish I hadn't read a few of the reviews of this one. They definately slanted my reading of it, in no small part because I tend to agree with it.

The blurb is fascinating: 

For centuries, the legendary Protector, Jehrke Victorious, has kept safe the Crossroad of the World—Shasesserre. The City is kept guarded and blanketed from smaller-scale threats to dark magical anomalies. All was calm and peaceful for generations under the peaceful wizardry—until one day, a mysterious stranger brutally murders the Protector.

And so starts the tale of Rider and his men including such characters as Preacher and Soup among others. A motley crew who are good at things, but none as good as Rider, the son of Jehrke, a man raised to be the ultimate protector of the city.

His skills vast, his ability to cross human limitations, ignored! In many ways, he is the ultimate fantasy hero in both sword and magic. In these areas, the reviews that compare him to Doc Savage cross my mind.

Because I've read Doc Savage! Doc is often portrayed as well beyond a normal man. His inhuman stamina and strength allowing him to overcome odds that most normal people couldn't hope to challenge in the first place.

So how do you challenge a magic using fantasy setting Doc Savage?

Why with a fantasy version of Fu Manchu!A villanious mastermind of numerous trades back in the day by Sax Rohmer. Those who are fans of Marvel comics might know him better as Shang Chi's father from the series 

In many ways, it's a win-win. We get to see Doc Samson with the serial numbers filled off battle Fu Manchu with the serial numbers filled off.

But the tale is a bit short in the telling. We are introduced to what I'm assuming is Fu Manchu's daughter but that's never resolved. We are barely introduced to the city as an entity in and of itself, but that's not really handled.

Even Rider's own strengths and weaknessess are heavily glossed over because it's a short book and it keeps moving. 

Which would be fine if there were say twenty or so volumes of this to follow up on the initial action. It's like the set up of a great graphic novel and the small print company went out of business before they could follow up.

For example, Glen Cook apparently loves the idea of a 'web' as he's used it in Dragons Never Sleep as well. Here it's like a quick description of ley lines that surround the city that Rider can use to watch over the city when anyone uses magic. But what else can it do? What are it's limits? Can it be expanded? 

If you're looking for a dark grim fantasy, Sung In Blood will not hit the spot. If you're looking for Glen Cook's traditionally odd named heroes like Soup, Preacher, and even Rider himself, then this book has you covered.