Tuesday, January 22, 2013

recent reads; Gath and Garrett

The Winds of Gath by E. C. Tubb

I didn't know anything about E. C. Tubb until his death in 2010, and then I read all sorts of tributes and posts.  The mention that really caught my attention was from author John Maddox Roberts, who noted (on the REH Forums,) "I loved those [Dumarest] books. If Conan were a spacefarer, he'd be Dumarest, just with a knife in his boot instead of a sword at his belt."

As you can imagine, Tubb's Dumarest went right on my radar.

Winds of Gath is the first novel of the series.  Dumarest is stranded on the planet Gath, where pilgrims and tourists caravan to the mountains to hear the singing winds.  But the winds are dangerous, driving men to madness, and the coming storm is worse than anyone predicts.  Against that backdrop, Dumarest becomes embroiled in political maneuvers including assassination attempts.  He must stay alive, and earn his passage from Gath.  There is action and intrigue.  The setting, the setup of galactic factions (that will continue throughout the series) and the characters were all interesting and had their own voices.

Dumarest is his own character, but I can see why there might be echoes of Conan.  I felt more like Dumarest reminded me of Ian Fleming's original James Bond.  Not that Dumarest is a spy anymore than a man who becomes king - but when he kills out of necessity he executes with grim precision.  He lacks the red lust of Conan when it comes to mortal combat.

I enjoyed this story, and as a bonus, it was an "old school" novel - a short, quick read.

If you can't hunt down the paperbacks, the entire Dumarest series are available as e'books, though I wish they were priced a bit cheaper.

I'll be reading more of them, for certain.

Dread Brass Shadows by Glen Cook

I was surprised to look back over my 2012 reads and realize I had not read a single Glen Cook novel. I usually read at least one.  I grabbed Dread Brass Shadows off the shelf.

Garrett is a noir private eye whose beat is the fantasy city of TunFaire (which Cook bases on St. Louis.)  Unlike most "urban fantasy" featuring fantasy creatures in our modern cities, this is the opposite - a human gumshoe in a fabled city populated by multiple races - human, dwarf, elf, ogre, etc.  Also should note; Garrett is not some guy who fell through from our world, either.  He's a native of TunFaire, a Marine veteran getting by the only way he knows how.

I don't know if Cook invented this milieu, but he does it very well.  He is faithful to the tones of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, et al. while pulling in all kinds of sorcerous and fantastical elements.

This time out, Garrett must locate the Book of Shadows - a magic tome spells that allow the reader to take the shape and form of whatever is on the brass-plated page.  Battling factions catch Garrett in the middle, as he tries to understand why he got pulled into the situation in the first place.  The stakes rise as Garrett finally understands he must confront the biggest mobster chief in the city - and only one of them will come out alive, this time.

I always enjoy Glen Cook, and Dread Brass Shadows was no different.


  1. I loved that cover to Winds of Gath. I read this myself not too long ago. Always enjoyable, the Dumarest books

  2. I read The Winds of Gath about 15 years ago and enjoyed, just never got around to the rest of the series. I'm hoping to profile them one at a time on my blog, but I'm not sure I'll have time before summer, if then. Thanks for the tip that they're available as ebooks.

    The cover artist is a guy named Paul Alexander, who did a lot of paperback covers in the 70s and early 80s. Not only could he draw gorgeous women, but he was well known as someone who could draw futuristic machinery. I really like the way he used color. He's retired now.

  3. I really like the Garrett books too. Cook nails the hard-boiled dialog and still brings in some original fantasy ideas. Have you tried Alex Bledsoe? Kind of a new take in the same vein.

    1. Charles, no I haven't read Bledsoe yet, but I do have the first Bledsoe novel (Sword Edged Blonde) waiting on my Kindle.