Monday, September 25, 2017
recent read; The Mines of Behemoth
THE MINES OF BEHEMOTH by Michael Shea
This is the second book concerning Nifft the Lean and is a full novel, unlike the first collection of novellas.
Nifft the Lean and Barnar Hammer-Hand are thieves fallen on hard times. They sail to earn money working a "sap mine." This is no ordinary venture - the "sap" comes from draining gigantic grubs - the offspring of even more gargantuan behemoths. These creatures nest in our world and burrow far into the demon sub-world to sustain their ravenous appetites. On their way to the task, Nifft and Barnar are offered a more lucrative enterprise. Despite growing dangers, their work yields more and more opportunities for wealth, which the two thieves cannot resist to exploit.
Shea seemed to love giant monsters. The creatures throughout the Nifft tales are mostly of giant proportions. It's an interesting take for fantasy novels, where - aside from dragons or frost giants - heroes often face things their own size or somewhat larger.
Shea's use of language in these tales borders on purple and flowery but it does convey and bring Nifft's world to life in vivid detail.
The Nifft stories are heroic fantasy but somewhat removed from classic sword-&-sorcery. The combat is negligible, often tossed off in a few words as monstrous limbs are hacked. No hard or long fought duels or grand armies in battle. There is more an exploration of the fantasy world and Nifft's character journey.
Speaking of which, Nifft does get greedy along the arc of this tale. To the point where I was afraid I wouldn't like him at the end. But Shea, thankfully, includes redemption in the conclusion of the story.
I enjoyed Nifft's journey through the behemoth mines. I'll be returning for THE A'RAK in the near future.
(p.s. - Technically, this was a "recent listen" not a "recent read" as THE MINES OF BEHEMOTH is out-of-print but available through Audible.)