Posted by jukkahoo
I recently acquired two Kothar-books ("Of all the mighty fantasy heroes - the greatest of them all!") from an English fan who offered these deliciously "bad" fantasy classics in one of the mailing lists I'm in. Another fan, a distinguished American, was bewildered: "Why would I want to own something as vile and bad, as Gardner F. Fox's books?" (I'm paraphrazing here slightly. At least I hope I am, otherwise I don't actually know what I'm doing. - "Doing" - such a queer word? A bit like "dung". "What's brown and sounds like a bell? - Dung!")
But I digress! I wasn't very sleepy the other night and I decided to check the first Kothar-book out. It consists of three short stories (I guess the first one, "The Sword of the Sorcerer", is technically a novella or novellette?), of which I read the aforementioned first one. And it is hideously bad. It's mainly... dull. It moves on all right, but everything that happens is in no way exiting, dramatic nor interesting. It's supposedly a "Thrilling Fantasy Adventure", but in reality, it's just plain bad. Not like a regular turkey one would enjoy, like say (and here we move to the Realm of Motion Picture) Invincible Barbarian or Barbarians (the one with the Barbarian Twins). Kothar seems to be more like Gor, you know - "bore".
I'm still looking for the rest of this stuff. Who knows, maybe it'll get better? "About that bridge...?"
I read the Peg Kerr's The Emerald House Rising. I liked this little fantasybook. It was more YA than I expected, but pleasantly so. It had charming ideas and a very nice, "new" magic-twist to it. Nothing spectacular, but as a very nice comforting fantasy it served it's purpose. The protagonist was an able young girl who wants to be a jeweller, but as a girl she is somewhat shunned by the guild. As it happens, she turns out also being an adept with them "magic things". Not actually a no-no, but somewhat looked down-upon profession in these here parts of this particular secondary world. Fun and games, with a dash of romance and good-natured humour and exitement. My understanding is that Kerr's latest book The Wild Swans is much more ambitious. Sari liked it quite a bit when she read it.
Other recently read book is by P. C. Doherty. Satan in St. Mary's is probably his first (?) novel, and on occasion it shows. Doherty knows his history (the 13th century England under Edward I; but he has shown later that he can also do ancient Egypt, Rome, Mongols... - you name it) and the murky medieval city that's London is here with all the appropriate smells and bawds and scurrilous tales and cutthroats etc. This is the first Hugh Corbett mystery, who's a clerk from the King's Court and (probably later) the trusted servant of Chancellor Burnell. This is an introduction to our sleuth, as well as his manservant, young and rather a scallywag of a character called Ranulf. The mystery grows from apparent suicide to black magic, satanism and attempted regicide, and the pacing is very well handled. This is a short novel (180 pages) and there is more than plenty material for a lot longer tome. In the end this goes past too fast and clues are too obvious, but there is still an element of excitement here. I really liked the parotagonist, an ex-fighter, clerk and a recently (well, OK ten years ago, but he is still rather sad about it) widowed Hugh. As said, London comes alive too and I wouldn't be too surprised if one of these I'd try more of this here Mr. Doherty. Marko has liked his later novels too and I hope that some of the arkwardness of this book is due to it being the first one. As such, a very commendable mystery at that. It's always nice to see people shouting "Hail, Lucifer!" in the medieval setting. Thoroughly recommended.
The annual Yhteistyökokous of the Finnish sf/f-clubs, associations and organisations (and few good magazines too) takes place in Tampere this Saturday, the 28th of Feb. I'll be there. Let's see what utterly fun stuff one can expect in the future!