Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Hammer and The Blade by Paul S Kemp

The Hammer & The Blade
An Egil & Nix Novel
Written by Paul S Kemp

Paul S. Kemp may be more familiar to fans of the Forgotten Realms through his characters of shade and shadow. Here Paul starts a new chapter in his writing career, one that launches a new world with new characters with some very old themes.

Cast in a similar vein as the ruin hunting adventures of Conan or Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Nix the Lucky or Nix the Swift, is the companion of Egil of Ebenor. Nix is clearly the 'rogue' of the pair. He does most of the sneaking, is quick, is known for his accuracy with thrown daggers, and like the Mouser is a dabbler in magic thanks to a year in a sorcerer college.

Egil is a bit different. While you couldn't tell from the cover, he's often described as being so hairy that he's mistaken for a bear or wearing a heavy winter coat in summer. Like having a mustache and beard even. Like having a ringlet around his scalp of hair.

In terms of being 'of Ebenor', that's the God who is of the Moment. In this case, an entity that was a god for a moment. And while Egil is referred to as a priest throughout the novel, he's not a spellcasting priest. He's a dual hammer wielder.

The novel starts with the duo doing some tomb raiding and that spirals out into the main body of the story. Paul keeps the cast small and the setting around the cast. He expands upon that setting through the use of historical murals, psychic visions, and playful banter back and forth between the characters.

Paul's work focuses on the 'adventuring' aspect with tombs to plunder and foes to battle. There's a lot of fighting going on in a setting that has sorcery and magical items but isn't awash in them like say the Forgotten Realms. Paul's descriptions of the numerous fights the duo get in are captivating and move along pulling the reader with them. Many of the foes the duo face, both magical and mundane, are able to be effected by normal steel and the dreaded forces of gravity. This gives it far more of a sword and sorcery pulp action feel than a setting where the main character is disintegrating individuals with power enough to destroy them from the timeline.

At this point, neither character bears an enchanted or named weapon and their competencies are tested over and over.

Despite the familiar ground, Paul walks, he brings his own twists to things. For example, the final 'fate' of the villain of the piece? Hinted at earlier but perhaps cruder than we'd have seen during the genre's top popularity.

If you're a fan of sword & sorcery, of high action, of good guys who aren't necessarily 'good guys', The Hammer and the Blade is a great place to introduce yourself to Nix and Egil.