Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review of Trollslayer by William King

Trollslayer by William King was published by Black Library in 1999.  I enjoyed the novel in the omnibus edition (which includes the sequels, Skavenslayer, and Daemonslayer) published under the title Gotrek & Felix in 2006.  "A dwarf who seeks a glorious death in order to redeem himself from an unstated dishonor is accompanied by a human poet sworn to chronicle his adventures."

The notion of a fighting poet, as portrayed by Felix Jaeger in Trollslayer, has obvious appeal to me, a poet and ex-USAF flight surgeon.  Indeed, it is a notion that has already occurred to me.  My novel,  The Last Paladin, introduces a poet-as-hero character named Danule whose adventures are chronicled (so far) in two spin-off short stories from the world of Eretz, "The Balladeer," and "Songs of Stone."  (Sadly, to date, all of these fine works have yet to find the right publisher).  Accordingly, I could not help but identify with the character of Felix and enjoy the stories in the novel, most of which were told from his POV.  I only wish that some actual poetry had been included within the pages, but perhaps Mr. King is only adept at writing about poets and is not a poet himself.

The dwarf, Gotrek Gurnisson, is a Tolkienian dwarf-lover's dream.  He is brave to the point of being stupid, about as wide as he is tall (and all of it muscle), always looking for a fight, wields a battle axe like a berserker, speaks in sound bites, loves his ale and meat, is exiled from his home, and has a dark secret that has led to what amounts to a suicide quest.  What more could any khazadphile want?

I will be so bold as to suppose that Trollslayer is actually composed of several short stories about Gotrek and Felix.  Each chapter could be read as a stand alone story and begins with a telltale recap and backstory that would be unnecessary and distracting in a novel composed as one long narrative.  I did not mind this, actually--I took advantage of reading the work as I would a collection of short stories--but I can see how some readers might find this structure to be tedious.  That is about the only real fault I could find with a novel that turned out to be everything the jacket copy said it would be.  I'm looking forward to reading more about the adventures of Gotrek and Felix in the next book in the omnibus, Skavenslayer.

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