Monday, August 21, 2017

recent read: A Discourse in Steel


It took me too long to return to Egil and Nix. Kemp has created a great sword-&-sorcery duo. And yes, even I who prefer novella length as tops for sword-&-sorcery, still consider this novel as sword-&-sorcery. Don't let the length fool you. While it has touches of "high fantasy" and some Dungeons & Dragons magical items and dungeon crawls, Egil & Nix comes right out of the Nifft the Lean and Fafhrd & Gray Mouser tradition.

A psychic friend of the duo learns a little too much about the city's thieves guild. The guild tries assassination and Egil & Nix know they won't let up. So the duo goes for the throat of the guild.

They're not out to save the world - they are out to save their friends .. and their whorehouse.

Along the way we get cosmic horrors of a black alley that appears at random in the city, magical "gewgaws," lost civilizations, a whole lot of action and combat, and even deeper reflections on what makes a person a person, friendship and loyalty.

The banter between Egil and Nix comes to life in the audiobook. It might work well on the page, too, but there were moments when I laughed out loud while listening.

Angry Robot originally published the first two Egil & Nix novels. They were dropped after Angry Robot were bought and went through some restructuring.
Original Angry Robot cover
Fortunately, Del Rey picked them up and republished the first two novels and they have released a third, A CONVERSATION IN BLOOD.

I enjoyed A DISCOURSE IN STEEL a whole lot. I won't wait so long between books this time.

And I want a t-shirt;

In a world of slubbers and fakkers, be an Egil (or a Nix.)


  1. I really like this series as well. I picked up the third book now that it's out in paperback. Hopefully within the next few weeks...

    1. I grabbed the audio yesterday. Will pick up the pb soon, too.

  2. I like that title. I'll have to give the series a try

    1. Definitely. As I said, this is sword-&-sorcery. Anyone in 'our' crowd should enjoy it, I think.

      I suspect some momentum was lost with the change of publishers. I hope the new book does well enough to keep Kemp interested in writing more of them.

  3. It's good stuff, I need to read the third one now too.

  4. Just bought The Hammer & The Blade.
    I'm such a backward-looking reader that if I read something published after 1980 I feel like I'm reading something "new".
    But your invoking of Fafhrd & Nifft was too much to resist.