A Total Inability To Connect

The Hammer and the Blade - Paul S. Kemp I picked up this book and its sequel after reading Paul's AMA on reddit, and enjoyed his commentary and personality.

This book is the ever popular 3.5 star rating for me. It's a very light, quick read. It reminded me in many ways of Riyria Revelations by Michael J Sullivan, however where Riyria is also an easy, flowing read, it's full of depth, a fairly comprehensive world with history and lore built by Michael. This novel, however, lacked that depth. It had a similarly easy to digest prose, a somewhat similar duo of protagonists, with witty dialogue and humorous situations.

However, while Egil and Nix succeed at being clever and likable characters, they also were a let down in a lot of ways. Egil is a "priest" of a lesser known god, and no one hesitates to call him priest or point out constantly that he's a holy man or discuss his "faith". However, his "faith" matters not, gives him no moral guidance or values, does not remotely stop him from being a drink or robbing tombs and desecrating corpses. Seemed pointless of a character trait to me. Nix, on the other hand, was sort of more gung-ho, yet still had numerous obnoxious flashbacks and self doubt moments about his identity or personal values, yet there is nothing explained and they feel like a cheap attempt at depth.

Egil and Nix are generally very predictable, lack depth, and there are really never any major plot twists. The story itself is clever, dark and kind of crooked. There are some serious themes there, and the entire story base is emotionally charged and very dramatic. It is an odd contrast to the protagonists, who are presented often as aloof and sarcastic. There are some rather ham-fisted attempts at moral lessons, namely regarding violence towards women. Great message, sloppy execution.

Also, seriously...people in this book suffer gruesome injuries and take extreme levels of violence and abuse, yet seem to have their actions not hampered at all, then wake up the next day as if nothing ever happened...every single time. It was almost as distracting as "fakking" and "shite" being used as the profanity.

I sound as though I am only negative towards this book, which really isn't true. I enjoyed it quite a bit - it was fast paced, easy to digest and a nice escape from my normal reads. The writing was good, the dialogue was witty and realistic, and the story, where it felt anemic in history and lore, had a lot of interesting features. The base for the series is set, and it seems like a good setup for a "junk food" style easy reading sword and sorcery series.