Thrall by Steven Shrewsbury
Review by Daniel Cann
Here is a novel set ‘in the mists of ancient times’ and sees an aging legendary warrior in Gorias La Gaul who has spent centuries battling monsters of lore. Shrewsbury’s novel takes place where demonic forces known as Nephilum walk the earth and dragons are creatures of reality not myth. On a journey to discover the whereabouts of an estranged relative caught in the shadow of necromancy Gorias’ path crosses with familiar enemies, some who enjoy supernatural powers and abilities.
One thing becomes very clear early on in ‘Thrall’ and that is Shrewsbury’s powerful and vivid imagination. Right from the start the reader is thrust in the thick of this ancient world with the threat of violence and a swift gruesome death never far away.
Gorias reminded me of a ‘Swords and Sorcery’ version of ‘True Grit’s’ uncompromising Marshall Rooster Cogburn, both share the same fatalist philosophy, both are curmudgeonly and at times anti-social, both enjoy larger than life reputations and most importantly of all both have courage and character in abundance.
He is aided in his quest by an interesting assortment of allies in Kayla: a free spirited but no-nonsense young female warrior, Maddox: his giant warrior grandson trying to live up to his famous relative’s reputation and Tammas: a bard who finds himself on a steep learning curve!
‘Thrall’ is packed with incident and swift and bloody action. The gore quotient is off the scale, yet it also manages to be humorous in a darkly wry, knowing in a cynical way. The dialogue is cracking and I really enjoyed how the characters bounced off each other each expressing their own individual viewpoints amidst all the mayhem.
The bad guys really are bad indeed, especially Nosmada. Thanks to him hell truly is unleashed on earth and Gorias and his merry band are really up against it.
The plot can be slightly meandering at times but that can be forgiven as this is such a great character study. Everything builds up nicely to an impressive climactic battle with some neat twists thrown in for good measure.
This is a decent solid fantasy romp which manages to hit the right spot.
Published 2010 by Seventh Star Press
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