Blackhand by Matt Hiebert
I first read Matt Hiebert's work when he submitted an excellent short story to a competition we were running last year. So I did not hesitate at all when asked to read and review his latest novel, Blackhand, which tells the story of a banished prince who finds himself caught in a struggle between two warring gods; whose destiny leads to his being transformed into a being that is more than human with the strength of a god.
First I will put my thoughts on Blackhand into one concise sentence: I loved the first half of the book but did not care much for the second. I once watched a Quentin Tarantino film called From Dusk till Dawn and the experience was similar to reading Blackhand, not in regards to content but in the abrupt change of style/genre half way through. But I must stress that this is a purely personal opinion and others may experience things differently, so as always it is a great idea to make up your own mind.
The first half of the book has many positives, it feels like the classic fire-side storytelling of which fantasy authors like David Eddings were so adept. But there was also a very thoughtful and patient air that put me in mind of Ursula Le Guin, particularly in the relationship between Siyer and Quintel, and the talks they have, the topics they discuss. There is also a delightful variation on chess that is integral in Quintel's training and his ascension to God-like status. I liked the cast of characters, and the aged mentor/innocent youngster relationship is always a winner for me. The chapters were short and snappy and there was always a feeling of progress, as if every chapter played an important part in moving the story forward. There was a feeling of speculative fiction that complemented the fantasy theme well and I really liked it.
But then, shortly after Quintel ascends to a near-God like being there is a sudden change in style, in genre really. The thoughtful approach is swept aside as a hack-and-slash, full on battle mode ensued. The remainder of the book felt like one long battle scene, which was a shame as the thoughtful element was what I had bought into. Another real problem for me lay in Quintel becoming a near god - he became basically invincible and with that came a loss of tension as it was almost given that he would triumph in every battle. And the story played out with Quintel killing, and killing, and then killing again. It just didn't work for me.
But at the end the story once again slowed down and some neat sub-plots and a well thought-out fantasy creation theory helped to finish the book on a strongly. But unfortunately the pages upon pages of death and mayhem had left me more than a little desensitised. The book has two distinctly different parts - the first really worked for me, the second didn't. For other reader it may well be the other way around, or perhaps they will love both.
As you read the above it is obvious that I had issues with the book but when I think on the author's short story and on the quality of the first half of the book I would not hesitate to read from him in the future. There is definite talent there.
This Blackhand book review was written by Floresiensis
Have you read Blackhand?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Blackhand reader reviews
7/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen
Bled dry by interminable warfare, infighting and bloody confrontations with Lord Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, the vast, sprawling Malazan empire simmers with discont...
Chronicles of the Black Company
Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead. Then comes the prophec...
On the world of Kuf, the Macht are a mystery, a seldom-seen people of extraordinary ferocity and discipline whose prowess on the battlefield is the stuff of legend. For cen...
Shadow Ops series
Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer. Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the d...
The Rigante Novels
Born in the storm that doomed his father, Connavar grows to manhood among the mist-covered mountains of Caer Druagh, where the Rigante tribe dwell in harmony with the land ...
The First Law
Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body...
The Ascendants of Estorea
The Estorean Conquord has stood for 850 years. Its Advocate, Herine Del Aglios, knows that she presides over the greatest civilisation in history. But she wants more. And i...
The Drenai Novels
The Legend Druss, Captain of the Axe: the stories of his life were told everywhere. Instead of the wealth and fame he could have claimed, he had chosen a mountain lair, hig...
The Aspect Emperor
R Scott Bakker
A score of years after he first walked into the histories of Men, Anasurimbor Kellhus rules all the Three Seas, the first true Aspect-Emperor in a thousand years. The masse...
Chronicles of the Raven
The Raven have fought together for years, six men carving out a living as swords for hire in the war that has torn Balaia apart, loyal only to themselves and their code. Bu...
Prince of Nothing
R Scott Bakker
A score of centuries has passed since the First Apocalypse and the thoughts of men have turned, inevitably, to more worldly concerns... A veteran sorcerer and spy seeks new...
The elves have fled to Calius, seeking to escape the overwhelming power of the demonic Garonin. A desperate last stand in their own dimension saved the race, at the cost of...
Legends of the Raven
The Raven travel to a new continent in search of mages to help the ruined college of Julatsa rebuild . . . and find themselves in the midst of an ancient curse - a curse th...
The People of the Black Circle
Robert E Howard
Conan the Cimmerian: he rose from boy-thief and mercenary to become kingof Aquilonia. Neither supernatural fiends nor demonic sorcery could oppose the barbarian warrior as ...
A man wakes in the wilderness, amid scattered corpses and inquisitive crows. He has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. The only clues to his former existenc...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her alone. Garbled warnings from bizarre creatures keep her up at night. And there’s a time portal in the keg room of the bar where she works. Soon, Hallie is tumbling through...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...