Thraxas Under Siege
by Martin Scott
Review by John Berlyne
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 1416520880
Date: 03 October, 2006 List Price $24.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The perennially hungry and equally perennially cynical private investigator is back in a new adventure in Martin Scott's hugely enjoyable Thraxas series. Set in Turai, a Romanesque city-state, these superbly constructed novels star one Thraxas, a self-loathing, hard-drinking and extremely likeable PI who runs his business from his rooms at the Avenging Angel inn. Along with his sidekick, Makri, a half-orc, chain mail clad ex-gladiator with a penchant for self-improvement, Scott has built up a glorious cast of characters that make regular appearances. There's Gurd, the taciturn barbarian innkeeper and his girlfriend Tanrose, the best cook in Twelve Seas; Dandelion the hippy barmaid, who disgusts Thraxas because she refuses to wear shoes and talks to dolphins; Lisutaris, Mistress of the Sky, the city's most powerful sorcerer and most prolific smoker of the thazis weed, etc.
In Thraxas Under Siege, things are not going well in Turai. The orcs are gathered outside the city walls and their invasion seems imminent, the weather has turned cold and there's a shortage of yams! Worse still the Winter Malady is sweeping the city and people are dropping like flies, mostly on the floor of Thraxas' rooms. Our man learns of a magical item that could save the city, but tracking it down won't be easy if, as suspected, the Orcs have sent spies into the city to look for it too. On the other hand, Tanrose has confidentially informed Thraxas of the stash of long lost gold that her late grandfather buried somewhere near the harbour. And if he found it, he might be able to enter the big card game due to take place in a couple of days. Shame everyone else is out looking for it too!
Hand on heart, I love these novels--in fact, I'd go as far as to state that they are amongst some of most entertaining stories I've ever read. Scott, who also writes as Martin Millar, is the consummate professional, and his formula for these novels simply cannot be improved upon. Each Thraxas novel slots together beautifully and the mechanics of each story work like a well oiled and perfectly fashioned farce--tightly plotted situations build up and pay off with big laughs and the sharply drawn characters obediently play their parts with great timing and precision. Against this, Scott has created a wonderfully believable setting in Turai and keeps it remarkably consistent. Great fun!
Solid, compact and beautifully put together, Martin Scott's Thraxas novels are living proof that good things come in small packages.