Cover Artist: Larry Elmore
Review by Jon Guenther
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476780863
Date: 27 October 2015
List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
When I see an author like Larry Correia move from the science fiction realm of his Monster Hunter, Inc. series through the urban/dark fantasies of Grimnoir Chronicles and the Dead Six, I figured an epic like Son of the Black Sword could go either way. Fortunately, Mr. Correia has demonstrated once more he's a prolific and talented writer.
In this story, Ashok Vadal is our hero and one who I was able to identify with. He's a moral agent, a warrior of honor who is utterly dedicated to something, even if the commitment is misguided. I also found fairly early in the novel this consummate swordsman is also flawed.
This book works on a few levels. First, the storytelling is done in Mr. Correia's very accessible style, which should appeal to those of you already familiar with his work. Second, it has great characters that aren't just following the mythical archetypes as much as they set the stage and pave the way for bigger things to come, so on that count the characterization breaks some tired molds. Third, the idea of the magic sword Angruvadal having chosen Vadal as the only person worthy to wield proved a pretty cool concept that adds real depth to the story.
There are some points in the book where I noted things structurally seemed either rushed or bloated, and there didn't seem to be much middle ground. There are passages where more dialog and less exposition, just more show and less tell, would have worked best. There is also somewhat of a magical theme in this work that seemed more derivative of what we've already seen from the author in the Monster Hunter, Inc. books. I was able to overlook this in some cases but in others it was too glaringly obvious. There was also a little too much about the world in this book that seemed more like Feudal Japan. On some level I wish it hadn't, because the underlying politics were cleverly woven into the sub-plots. I think a more fully-developed society would have made the political aspects richer.
Despite the flaws in some ways where it felt a bit too derivative and unoriginal, I have to admit the story and characters were enough to carry me through until I closed the book with a contented sigh. That was enough to make me curious about where it goes from here. I think Mr. Correia's Saga of the Forgotten Warrior is off to a good start with Son of the Black Sword. I hope the future volumes will be a bit more fresh, as I think it has potential to go from just merely good to great.
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