Friday, January 1, 2010

A Legend for 2010

Though Andy Remic is the author of six novels, three of them military science fiction - a favorite sub genre of mine; - the first book of his I have read is Kell’s Legend from Angry Robot Books. I got a copy of the novel sent to me for review; the print version has a very entertaining interview with Mr Remic included that I much recommend reading I read it prior to the novel - no spoilers.
Kell’s Legend is an admitted homage to the tradition of David Gemmel’s Druss novels and the Sword and Sorcery stories that proceeded it. Andy treats us to a bit of the modern tendency for multiple narrators ala GRR Martin in his Sond of Ice and Fire .

In an effort to keep some of the plot points a secret I will keep the review to just two of the male protagonists; I will let you meet the nations queen, the clockwork general, a clockwork outcasts and the daughter of a legend in their own voices.

Kell, the man of the legend (there is a poetic epic you get a bit of across the novel), is a retired warrior of many campaigns and skirmishes and know smore then he often lets on. He has raised and lost a family since his bloody war years; only his Granddaughter remains of his blood and he means to have her outlive him. He has another female motivator in his life; she actually means well but she is what you might call a bitch. The other part of this odd couple, Saark, is a self admitted leacher and thief who’s past is something of a surprise as are his fighting skills. He makes a good foil for his older more grizzled buddy. Saark enjoys the better things in life, a thief and is quite fun to read as embarrassing as that is to admit.
The relationship between Kell and Saark the story reminds me of the buddy film from the eighties - mostly of the movie They Live - the buddies in that film get into a throw-down that leaves both of them bloodied and battered - likewise these two.
The Clockwork Vampires (The Army Of Iron) invade of the Nation of Falanor, a martial country of humans to their south. They may not completely outnumber the humans but they more then makeup for that through their use of magic and their Clive Barker worthy allies the Harvesters. When Andy crafted his enemies he did possibly too good a job; between the Harvesters magic and the devious twisted clockwork freaks - the cankers - humanity may just end up as food and grist for the Clockwork Vampire mills.
The action follows the differing narrators as they attempt to escape from the brutality of their foes that range from the mentioned Army of Iron, clockwork vampire assassins, clockwork and flesh chimeras, human monsters (sometimes the worst of all) , and creatures of magic and out of legend. Andy plays free and loose with the readers familiarity with the tropes of the genre to surprising and entertaining effect. Kell’s Legend would make a really good start to a series of fun bloody minded action flicks and... well... it is the beginning of a series of novels so you dont have to put up with shoddy effects or years of wait between parts…. I am chomping at the bit for the second novel since he leaves you with some good cliffhangers and namy lingering questions.
There are hints at a greater history in the course of the novel. Sometimes I felt that Mr Remic was getting ahead of himself. In telling the story his writing is crisp and not over descriptive but at times the ideas seem to come at you fast. As a reader you have to be willing to go along with him - he may make you wonder if you missed something so sometimes you have to be patient... he will explain there is just some violence that needs be dome first.

Angry Robot has hit another genre nail on the head here and they have found something worthy of a read.
Now I’ll have to find his other books….

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