A Conversation in Blood

“…don’t try anything or I’ll have Egil come back here and have a conversation with you that ends in blood.”

Paul S. Kemp does it again with A Conversation in Blood knocking out another awesome sword and sorcery adventure with Egil and Nix. The two lead characters get into trouble with wizards as an abomination from a previous era comes after them. It turns out their treasure hunting has dug up a relic so dangerous that everyone is willing to kill them for it. When the stakes are this high, Egil and Nix are at their best, and Kemp does not disappoint.

“The minions of a wizard are coming after us.”

“After us, after us?”

“Aye.”

“What time is it?”

“What? I don’t know. Still morning.”

“Gods, Nix. It’s still morning and you already got us sideways of a wizard? That seems unlikely even for you.”

One of the things I love about Kemp’s novels is how he takes a fun tale and makes it epic. At the center of things is Egil and Nix. Egil is a priest of the momentary god, Nix and expelled sorcerer, and the two of them tomb robbers extraordinaire. Add to that their witty dialog, and you have a story with an amusement level through the roof. It’s easy to get lost in the conversations and swept away, many of them bringing a smile to your face.

Then again, that fun banter leads to mischief, adventure, and inevitably doom. The stakes are never small with these two and that’s where the epic quality kicks in. Throughout the series, we’ve caught glimpses of a greater world and a rich past. A Conversation in Blood boldly goes forth to reveal the world’s greatest secret and the origin of some of its most familiar landmarks. The story explores the wizarding world of the Conclave, the origins of the Arch Bridge and Ool’s Clock, and the mystery of the Great Spell. These are things that make the story epic. That, and the things that said adventure costs.

“He murdered the quiet with a growl…letting their pain serve as a proxy expression of his own.”

Without revealing too much about the story, one other aspect worth mentioning is the bad guy of the story. The monster that haunts the adventure is a thing of great power. It’s relentless, nigh invincible, and murderous. Many people are slain in its wake. It’s easy to hate a monster like that. Yet Kemp takes the time to tell parts of the story from the monster’s perspective. The reader is given an idea of why this creature does the things that it does. We find out what drives it, where it came from, and its purpose in the world. It’s a compelling subplot made even richer by the ending and it’s the kind of thing that will leave you pondering the possibilities.

Nix heard Egil shout and the sound pulled him back from the edge for a moment. Bleary-eyed, he watched the priest charge the monstrous creature, lone hammer held high.

The sight made him smile softly.

Whatever happened, he hoped he and Egil would meet again forever.

Lavished with great prose and outstanding dialog that drives the story and gives it character, A Conversation in Blood is a top notch story. The players in the tale keep it entertaining and suspenseful as Nix and Egil deal with thieves, wizards and monsters in a quest to starve off boredom. What starts out as a drunken night of barhopping turns into an adventure that will change the world. It’s classic sword and sorcery with its own unique flavor, making it a delectable read. I give it a five out of five metal bikinis and highly recommend it, whether you’re new to the series or not, it’s easy to jump into.

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Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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