Tag Archives: William King

New books I got to read. And probably review.

As much as I love The Witcher, after three books I feel like taking a break for a while and look at some other books of Sword and Sorcery. I still feel like I am not really that well read in the genre and if you want to write some interesting stories it always helps to be somewhat familiar with what others have done with it and what might be interesting ideas to follow. So I actually got myself a decent stack of new books I will work myself through over the coming weeks. And most likely write reviews for them as well.

  • Night Winds by Karl Wagner. I really love Wagner. I think he’s the best Sword & Sorcery writer after Robert Howard and Andrzej Sapkowski. After reading a first story in an anthology (which was one of the few good ones in the book) I read and really loved Death Angel’s Shadow, and while Bloodstone wasn’t as great I still enjoyed it a lot. I’ve now seen people say that the stories are generally much better than the novels, so I am going with this one instead of trying out another novel.
  • The Black Company by Glen Cook. I’ve read one Black Company story in a Sword & Sorcery anthology last year and didn’t like it very much. It lacked both action and supernatural involvement and that just won’t do in Sword & Sorcery. But the series is regularly brought up as perhaps the most important one in recent Sword & Sorcery, so I’ve felt compelled to actually give at least the first book a chance. People joke that we Germans have so many snappy words for philosophy and other complex scientific concepts, and I have to admit that it is true. To me, not having read a Black Company book is a Bildungslücke, a gap in (basic) education. As a Sword & Sorcery fan and critic, you just have to know this series to be able to make any relevant comments.
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I’ve been actually quite surprised to see that this is already almost 10 years old. The way everyone keeps talking about it at Fantasy Faction made me think that it was very recent and one of the books everyone is talking about these days. While it goes against the Jordan Rule of not starting a fantasy series until it is completed, it does very much match my personal rule of paying real attention to books, movies, and games that people still talk about in high praise a year or two after release. I may not always be up to date, but this way I rarely read,watch, or play something that is not really great. And it’s generally much cheaper. (I think the last game I bought within a month after release was Mass Effect 3 and I was already a huge fan of the series. Before that I can’t even remember. Probably over 10 years ago.)
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. I don’t really know anything about it, except that a few people recommended it, both in reply to me looking for Sword & Sorcery and nonstandard fantasy settings.
  • Trollslayer by William King. I’ve read his book Stealer of Flesh last winter and thought it was pretty entertaining. His Grotek and Felix books seem to be more well known and have been recommended to me by several people, so I’ll be giving the first one a try.

Other books I have around and which I plan to get to eventually are Times of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski, Kull by Robert Howard, Warlords of Mars by Edgar Burrough, and the X-Wing series by Michael Stackpole. I also have started reading Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes, but that has an infamous drawn out opening scene that I find indeed quite terrible. There’s a lot to complain so far but also some good things, which I think would all be very interesting to discuss. So maybe I can get myself to endure it and maybe it gets better towards the end. I also want to write a review of the Thraw Series by Timothy Zahn in the next few days.

Book Review: Stealer of Flesh

Stealer of Flesh is a… well, I am not exactly sure what it is. It’s not quite a novel, nor quite a series of short stories, but something inbetween. Written by William King in 2011, Stealer of Flesh tells the first major adventure of Kormak, a Guardian of the Order of the Dawn who hunts the ancient creatures of the night. It consists of four stories that are very closely linked together but each have their own distinct character and take place in four very different locations. Calling them “episodes” feels very appropriate to me.

Stealer of Flesh

Stealer of Flesh

The story follows Kormaks hunt of a demon from the ancient past, who has returned to haunt the world, but is yet too weak to face a seasoned hunter of monsters and spirits all by himself. Several times does Kormak come face to face with the demon, but each time it manages to escape from him, keeping the hunt going for what seems like several weeks, though three of the stories all seem to take place within a single day.

King obviously is writing to capture the classic spirit of Sword & Sorcery. The stories are full with mentions of the Elder Sign and Old Ones, there is black lotus and Kormaks homeland is distant Aquilea, which surly doesn’t sound almost exactly like Aquilonia by coincidence. And to disperse any remaining uncertainty, King explicitly lists Howard, Moorcock, Leiber, and Smith as the people who inspired him in his introduction. You couldn’t make a stronger commitment to the genre than this. Which is why I think it entirely appropriate to not only judge Stealer of Flesh on its own merrits, but also on how well it manages to capture the spirit of the genre.

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