Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The West is Dying: Book 1 Fall of the First World

The West is Dying
Book 1 Fall of the First World
Written by David C. Smith
$2,99 Kindle
$19.99 Paperback

I read a few of David C. Smith's books back in the 80's. I read one Oron book and the six volumes he penned for the Red Sonja series. I had never heard of The Fall Of the First World though.

I found this one in the clearance section of Half-Price Books Skokie. After looking it over, turns out Davids revisited it with a more modern cover and name. Originally it was The Master of Evil with some weird I don't even know if I'd call it an 80's cover, but the new one is kind of 'grimdark' generic so take your pick and poison.

The border around the book certainly reminds me of the 80's. "Don't let the art full bleed damn you!"

I remembered enjoying the books from back in the day but if you asked me why I don't remember. I think they were violent for the time. Maybe 'proto-grimdark' if you will. You know, before every genre was sliced and diced for advanced marketing.

The Fall of the First World harkens back to the likes of Kull and Conan. While Conan is well known to be in the Hyborian Age, Kull takes place well before Conan. In similar fashion, the 'First World' takes place before the modern eras.

The West is Dying sounds like it could have been written today. While I'm sure at the time it was probably based more on the collapse of the Roman Empire, due to things like being a vast empire with numerous other emerging empires rising and starting to nibble, due to corruption and devaluation of wealth, due to incompetent leaders and leaders who betray their people, I'm sure that some reading it in 2018 would think it was just written as opposed to being first publishing in 1983.

There are some things that David does that sit well with me. He introduces a large cast of characters and much like a well known 'modern' author, he kills some you think would be favorites with no warning. If the script says, well, telling the 'bad guy' you're going to try to fuck his plans now means you die, and you're stupid enough to tell the bad guy your plans... well, there is no mystery savior popping out of the shadows to save you.

David also has a good descriptive voice. I could easily use some of his descriptions in a role-playing game and players would know what I'm talking about. "Cyrodian the second prince of the empire, was indeed a man to inspire fear: Huge - taller by a head than the tallest soldier in the Khamar palace guard - he was broad-shouldered, buffalo chested, with arms and legs the size of oaks. His beard and mustache were coarse, and he wore his hair in a modified soldier's cut far from the forehead, unkempt at shoulders." (pg. 24 trade paperback)

David also described death in its many forms exceedingly well.  "On the floor, the fat man groaned and rolled back and forth, holding his hands over his belly. Long rolls of intestines moved out of him like fat brown worms, and he sobbed as he attempted to push his bowels back inside." (pg. 332 e-version)

The only place I'd offer a warning, is that because this is the first part of a trilogy, and because it has a wide scope, much like modern sagas, it has a lot of characters and a lot of locations and a lot of things going on that are barely touched on in this book. Wizards, for example, are low fantasy, but their might cannot be denied. And there are several of them and you're left wondering, "Well, how is that going to play out."

New kingdoms and their players are introduced quickly and their stance against 'Rome' made clear. New plots and perils come to fruition at the end, but the author leaves us on a cliffhanger.

The Kindle versions are affordable at $2.99. And their all done. If you're looking for low fantasy sword and sorcery stylings, David C. Smith is an author whose is probably very unrecognized by modern readers. Check him out and let me know what you think.

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