Tuesday, 22 July 2014

FANTASY REVIEW: The Barrow - Mark Smylie

Release Date: 04/03/14
Publisher:  PYR


Action, horror, politics, and sensuality combine in this DEBUT EPIC FANTASY novel for fans of George R. R. Martin and Michael J. Sullivan, set in the world of the Eisner Award-nominated Artesia comic books.

To find the Sword, unearth the Barrow. To unearth the Barrow, follow the Map.

When a small crew of scoundrels, would-be heroes, deviants, and ruffians discover a map that they believe will lead them to a fabled sword buried in the barrow of a long-dead wizard, they think they've struck it rich. But their hopes are dashed when the map turns out to be cursed and then is destroyed in a magical ritual. The loss of the map leaves them dreaming of what might have been, until they rediscover the map in a most unusual and unexpected place.

Stjepan Black-Heart, suspected murderer and renegade royal cartographer; Erim, a young woman masquerading as a man; Gilgwyr, brothel owner extraordinaire; Leigh, an exiled magus under an ignominious cloud; Godewyn Red-Hand, mercenary and troublemaker; Arduin Orwain, scion of a noble family brought low by scandal; and Arduin's sister Annwyn, the beautiful cause of that scandal: together they form a cross section of the Middle Kingdoms of the Known World, united by accident and dark design, on a quest that will either get them all in the history books...or get them all killed.


I’m a huge fan of what I like to call Dark Fantasy, the type where the heroes are never whiter than white and the villains are never as black as you’d like to imagine, where the only thing that really seperates them is the point of view of the story. Here in this book by Mike Smylie is a tale that situates itself firmly in the blacker side of the genre as hard core action meets blood drenched battles, sex and pretty much all the other things you can handle.

Its well written, was a title that I had fun with as rather than taking itself too seriously with humour and cracking world building. All in a good bit of fun and something that I look forward to revisiting in the future.

1 comment:

Bob/Sally said...

I had a lot of fun with this one. Very dark, coarse, and adult, as you say, but sometimes you really just want a pulp fantasy adventure.