Blood and Steel: Legends of La Gaul by Steven L Shrewsbury

Rating 8.0/10
Not be for the squeamish or faint-hearted.

Steven L Shrewsbury is the author of two novels ‘HAWG’ and ‘Thrall.’ These two short stories see the central character of ‘Thrall’ the ancient hero and legendary warrior Gorias La Gaul in action. The first in this collection is Author and Finisher of our Flesh ISBN: 9781937929046 which sees Thynnes a soldier of the Transalpinian military recruiting the world-weary and cunning warrior Gorias for a dangerous mission to depose the unpopular King Silex of Albion.

With a compelling central character in the foul-mouthed and violent Gorias existing in a dangerous world full of hard drinkers who are just as ready to slit your throat as shake you by the hand this is riveting, bawdy stuff.

This is packed with lively characters, swordplay and gory encounters with beasts. The action flies by as the lovelorn and surprisingly at times introspective Gorias takes on all comers. I also loved the unexpected but welcome twist!

The second inventive Shrewsbury short story is Insurmountable ISBN: 9781937929053. This contains the dark humour of the first and once again the ultimate anti-hero Gorias La Gaul is at the heart of things.

The son of Chief Ambiorix and native of Ingaevone is this time engaged in a life and death struggle with a fierce monster. It was great fun reading how the ageing warrior who fights dirty manages to find a way to live for another day.

Shrewsbury’s short story is full of vivid descriptions which are at times shocking but always humorous and tongue in cheek. Gorias is attempting to honour his father in this adventure and is still prone to bouts of self analysis and introspection when not bloodletting!

I must admit this is the first time I have come across Shrewsbury’s work and found his writing style hugely enjoyable. He has managed to create a deeply flawed character, who despite his violent and direct nature, we cannot help but warm to.

They may not be for the squeamish or faint-hearted but these short stories should please fans and non-fans alike. I am certainly going to give the novel ‘Thrall’ a try based on these shorts.

Blood & Steel: Legends of La Gaul
Short Stories by Steven L Shrewsbury
Published 2011 by Seventh Star Press

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