Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ex Libris: Ari Marmell's The Conqueror's Shadow

"Nothing can stand in the way of a determined man."

Seriously, I really tried to like Ari Marmell's The Conqueror's Shadow (Spectra).

I mean, what's not to like about this one? It's the story of an evil warlord, Corvis Rebaine, who has turned over a new leaf because of the love of a young woman. Unfortunately, when a new evil warlord threatens the small home he's made together with his wife and children, he goes out in search for his former "evil" companions, his black armor as well as his demon-forged weapon that gave him his reputation, a talisman that hides a demonic power, as well as his former army of monsters and mercenaries.

Granted the language used in this story is a tad bit too much in the vernacular in that everyone seems to speak in today's modern English (reminiscent of David Eddings' books) and the characterization, the races and the landscapes are too flat and cartoonish by half. However, Marmell's characterization of Corvis is striking in that he reminds me of the best of heroic fantasy's anti-heroes (like Michael Moorcock's Elric, Joe Abercrombie's Bayaz, and R. Scott Bakker's Khellus): these are heroes who will do whatever it takes to get what they want though they think that this is for the good of everyone.

So I tried and I tried to see where Marmell would bring the story, just on the strength of Corvis' characterization alone. Alas, it wasn't enough: the cliches of the story overwhelmed the only one thing that made the story original. So a quickleafing through the book to the end to tell me what happened and then I dropped it to read another book.

Like I said, at my age, life is too short to endure bad books. Still, Corvis' characterization was distinctive enough in that I'll try Marmell's next books. (Rating: 1 paw out of 4.)

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