There are two types of fantasy: there is the fantasy where everything is so alien, you scratch your head trying to remember what a mulack is or what the heck a void-princess does. And there is the fantasy straight out of D&D, with all the character classes and all the races and beings and whatnot. Elves and orcs and wizards and fireballs, basically saving-throw fantasy. Battle-Chasers falls into the latter.
Now don’t get me wrong – that’s not a bad thing. Tigana was a super book (reviewed HERE), but it was high-fantasy, certainly an effort (and well worth it). Battle-Chasers brings nothing really new to western fantasy worlds – it’s just the same character classes (orcs, clerics, wizards) put in a very interesting setting.
It’s the aftermath of an unimaginatively massive battle where a nuclear bomb couldn’t have killed more – pretty much everyone is dead, for miles and miles. You get the impression that this was a battle of scale, Helms-deep and Minas Tirth with a couple of Conan battlefields tossed in. The book spans a single day on this gory wasteland, and the namesake characters? Well, they are folks ‘chasing’ battles.
There is the evil wizard Bakmano of the Circle of Death (the bad guys in this epic war), with his comic-relief demon Rumplestumple. There is the vampiress Minghella and her companion dragon Rhordanz. There is the draven dragon-hunter Ringlerun. There is the gigantic elf named Tree, and the blind cleric Chawk (and his little owl Vu (couldn’t resist that pun)). And a nasty assassin Chosser, with all the personalities he carries in his head. And all of them play off each other in interesting way amid the clotting corpses.
Originally I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it – like I said, it’s basic fantasy and I’m a bit of a snoot on my reading. But really, I settled in pretty well – it’s like an old western movie on a rainy Friday evening – not high art, but fun in a cozy sort of way.
I did have a couple of “blink” moments – like when characters in a fantastic world use the word “Okay”. And crosses (presumably Christian crosses) factor big in the book – one character even crosses himself when he sees a corpse with a cross. This is like opening a theater door in my mental movie house for me – so, if there are crosses, are there Christians? Was Christ in this world? And Romans? Did it happen the same way or is it simply a parallelism? Sorry, but modern religions, like Volvos, shouldn’t be in fantasy novels.
Remember what I said about Irony? And using cultural imagery? It’s a very dangerous thing.
But anyway, I rather liked the novel – high-brow expectations and all that. It was fun and interesting and had some neat moments and even a couple of jokes that made me laugh aloud. I’m sure you can find it on line with a little doing. Worth the effort, if only for that rainy Friday evening when there isn’t an old western on.