Let's face it, some of us read - a lot. And often times we all collide with that old familiar foe; the wall we generally refer to as "What do I read now?" Weather we have particular authors or slightly different tastes then most mainstream/pop culture trends we seem to find ourselves butting heads with said wall as we puzzle over where to get our next literary fix. For myself, this has been an arduous struggle that all too often I find myself in. I have for years found myself at a loss upon finishing my stockpile of 'to-read' books that interested me only to discover nothing appealing awaited me. Our public library's limited selection and lack of any local books stores never quite helped matters either. Especially when you factor in my voracious appetite and a somewhat picky taste in authors. Once I find an author that I enjoy, I typically consume all their work I can only to lament the fact when I'm done.
To further complicate matters, I've just never had a whole lot of luck in regards to enjoying what the general masses raved about as well. For example; I've tried Stephen King, and while his stories are wonderful, I simply can't find pleasure in reading them. Some of my favorite authors I adore, while some I can only read parts of their works. So when I started seeing one author currently dominating my reading mention one of his peer's newest work I hesitantly decided to check it out. I mean, if Matt Forbeck was raving about this Paul S. Kemp, it was worth a look, right? Like apprehensively asking for that one more card in blackjack, I took the gamble and found myself starring at a 21.
The opening alone had me hooked, ensnared if you will and unable to remove myself from the main character's as if I was compelled to join them. Because, well - let's be fair here: how many adventure stories can you name where the heroes begin knee deep in a tomb only to stop and realize they've no idea what prompted the whole ordeal? Not content to leave a task half done however they decide to finish what they started(since they've already gone this far - of course). What unfolds is a hilariously fun story that is anything but your traditional fantasy romp.
Egil and Nix, our wonderful heroes of a sort are nothing short of brilliant. While they may not be the ideal pair you'd want to throw your lot in with they continual prove to be two whom I'd join in with anytime. Even if they often make less than ideal decisions, they do prove to enjoy every moment of what those choices bring. These characters shine as what I like to refer to as 'face value deep.' They establish themselves right off the bat as being what they seem, and as you grow to see more depth it only manages to reinforce just that. Perhaps not the most complex and enigmatic figures in literature but this only helps to cement the fun aspect of the book. In short, you don't waste large parts of time wondering about/getting lost in the characters themselves.
The plot itself, much like the protagonists is skillfully done. It has been delightfully interesting without becoming overly complicated. I must say, having never read anything by Kemp before this has got to be a strong suit of his. One clearly fascinating aspect of the book is how the primary antagonist is himself both villain and victim. Forced into desperate action by the heroes who themselves had no idea of their involvement. It is Rakon(said bad guy) who continually juggles the ambitions of a power mad practitioner of dark magic with not only the fear of reprisal from his dark deals failing but also of a pair of sisters he lives in terror of. You can't help but at once feel that while he is the villain and his sisters victims, the opposite is also equally true. It is just as much fun to see Egil and Nix face the situations that befall them as it is to witness Rakon deal with is own side of things. Even though you clearly detest him and root for Egil and Nix!
Overall, the heroes are easy to identify with, the story is fun and fast enough to be incredibly enjoyable. All the while without the plot becoming overly complicated or the characters themselves taking on Tolkien-esque tomes of detailed history that could of gotten in the way. [I should point out, I am a huge Tolkien fan, there is no intended slight here. Just using his well known capacity for detailing every aspect to try and make a point.]
Confession time; I still like about 55 pages in completing this book, but couldn't resist going ahead and sharing my praise for it. Not only would I(even without yet reading the ending) not hesitate in picking up on future novels featuring Egil and Nix, but I would wager it a safe bet I'll be trying to take a look into any other work done by Paul S. Kemp. I'd gladly take part in any adventure those two set out on, and treasure every blessed moment.