Thursday, September 8, 2011
recent read - Sung In Blood
Summary from Night Shade Books; Protector Jerhke has kept Shasesserre peaceful for hundreds of years. After his brutal murder, his son Rider tries to discover his father's murderer. Rider is helped in his search by his companions, as they battle against the agents of the mysterious Kralj Odehnal. But the murderous dwarf turns out to be an introduction to greater terror, as they match wits with Shai Khe, the powerful sorcerer who wants to rule Shasesserre.
That is exactly what you get in this short novel (novella, really.) I am a fan of Glen Cook, so I enjoyed this quick fix between longer novels. Rider and his team read like Doc Savage and his crew (though, Rider is no Doc.) As usual, Cook plunges the reader into a setting seat-of-the-pants, and it's a fun ride. The opening assassination is darn near worth the price of admission alone.
Rider protects Shasesserre via a Web of magic that also allows communications with his team. Airships powered by ensorceled demons wander the skies.
Su-Cha, a shape-changing, wall penetrating imp, the familiar of Rider, is particularly fun side man. Cook always manages to give everyone just the right quirks and camaraderie. And yes, his team includes a strong man "barbarian" character, too.
This novella originally appeared in 1990 at a convention. Whether it was specifically written for that, or a "trunk" manuscript rescued for the event, there are some weaknesses.
The biggest is the abrupt ending. Some reviews argue Cook should have filled the tale out to a novel. I think--given that is was aimed as a novella--it should actually have been cut shorter. It feels like act one ends, act two starts and stops within a few pages. It might stand alone better with a cleaner cut and no bits of act two.
Fleshing out to a novel might have worked, but it already suffers from some repetition - a lot of chasing, captures and escapes and recaptures. Maybe this was a sly satire on Doc Savage novels but I haven't read enough to be sure on that point. The story might just have needed more editing.
Given that, if you are interested, seek out the ebook (which is considerably less than the limited edition hardcover) or find a used copy.
I enjoyed it, but I'm a fan. It might not be a bad quick introduction to Cook's style, but understand he has much more interesting and stronger works available - the original Black Company trilogy first and foremost.