Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: The Bloodstained Defile by Henry Brown

Although he's best known as the author of the pulpy action adventure novel Hell and Gone, Henry Brown has written some great short fiction, including several tales of Sword & Sorcery adventure.  I recently bought and read several of these, and they are highly recommended.

The first of his "Tales of the Honor Triad" is The Bloodstained Defile.  I'll save time by quoting from the story's Amazon page:

Sir Javo left his native Cemar to join the Order of the Black Lancers, and has built a reputation as a champion in single combat. But the general he rides for now has tasked him to serve as a diplomat as well, to negotiate with gigantic cutthroat barbarians known for their rapine and savagery.

Krag the Wrecker has been promised treasure, a horse, and a king's concubine if he and his score of fellow giants can delay the advancing legions of Dijol's invading army. It's a suicide mission, but not an unwelcome one for warriors who worship Death.

Turgar the Lightning-Thrower was once a troop chief in the nomadic armies of the great Chieftain Supreme, until betrayed by a warrior-brother and framed for a capital crime. With a price on his head in the expanding empire of Gabom, he has ventured afar, hiring out his bow to the highest bidder. Now beyond the fury of battle, his feline eyes perceive the telltale signs of sorcery in the making. And sorcery is the one force that can cause him to loose his arrows on those who are paying him.
The fighting is well done, the characters are interesting and believable, and the politics are handled with a deft touch.  For fans of Sword & Sorcery fiction there's lots of adventure with a touch of evil magic, just the thing to add the thrill of a the mysterious without turning it into a fireball-throwing cheese-fest. 

I have read and will review the next story in the series, The Gryphon of Tirshal, within the next couple of days.  For now, if you have a hankering for some bloody good adventure fiction, this is a short story that'll fit the bill nicely.


David Cranmer said...

Looks good. Thanks for the review.

Hank Brown said...

Thanks for the thoughtful review, Jack! I'm glad there are still some S&S fans still out there.