A Discourse in Steel
Egil and Nix are back in A Discourse in Steel, a sword and sorcery tale at its best. In this go around, the duo find themselves up against Dur Follins’ Thieves Guild. To make things even more complicated, Mere and Rose are involved and their lives are at stake. With no choice but to take on the guild in order to protect the mind witches, Egil and Nix go through hell and high water to set things right.
First off, A Discourse In Steel really captures the feel of classic sword and sorcery tale. When the Thieves Guild showed up in the book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of “Ill Met in Lankhmar” by Fritz Leiber. In both stories there is a dynamic duo who run up against a thieves guild. Both stories also feature a pair of women tied to the heroes. And just like Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Egil and Nix get in way over their heads. That said, I like the Thieves Guild Kemp creates a lot better. They’re a quasi-religious order with a strict code of laws. Led by eight archthieves, the guild runs their business in town uncontested. Much of the story follows Rusk, a member of the guild who has his eyes set on fortune. All he has to do is kill the Eighth Blade and he’ll be set. But things don’t go so easy when there’s a witness.
As for Egil and Nix, they go on quite the adventure. At first, they end up exploring a magical oddity known as Black Alley. Earning their reputation of being able to get in and out of places no one else can, they volunteer their services to help rescue a lost scholar. With Nix’s bag of magical geegaws, they have a slim edge that threatens to fall short of success. But that escapade is simply how the book kicks off. Once the Thieves Guild gets involved, they find themselves on a quest that changes everything. Without spoiling the story, readers can expect combat, magical items, chases, and some tantalizes glimpses of ancient powers. Throughout the story, there’s fun dialog and great chemistry between the characters.
As a follow up to The Hammer and the Blade, this story does a great job of continuing the fun and progressing the characters forward. Mere and Rose both wind up on a new level by the story’s end. New details are revealed about the world of Ellerth, and new possibilities are opened up for the future of the series. Fans of fantasy fiction and sword and sorcery would be well advised to give A Discourse In Steel a try. I give it a five out of five metal bikinis.