A Discourse in Steel by Paul S. Kemp

A Discourse in Steel(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Egil and Nix have retired, as they always said they would. No, really – they have! No more sword and hammer-play for them!

But when two recent acquaintances come calling for help, our hapless heroes find themselves up against the might of the entire Thieves Guild.

And when kidnapping the leader of the most powerful guild in the land seems like the best course of action, you know you’re in over your head…”

The thing that I’ve noticed about Kemp’s Egil and Nix stories is that they turn a lot of fantasy’s common tropes on their heads. Egil is a warrior priest, but he is his god’s only devotee. Nix is a former street rat and thief, but learned a surprising amount of compassion from the woman who raised him. The city they live in has a thieves’ guild, but its members are followers of a god who is rather active in their lives. Magic exists, but it’s not common and often not understood.

For me, this book was slow to start (which I also thought about the first one), but once it gets going, it’s hard to put down. The story leaves the confines of Dur Follin and heads out into the wilds, getting our heroes information about their world’s past history that isn’t well known. There are hints of massive events that took place, and I hope Kemp gets around to exploring those a little more.

Egil and Nix remind me of nothing so much as Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, the classic pair penned by Fritz Lieber. Those guys were my introduction to sword and sorcery, and Kemp’s novels definitely echo them. This isn’t the convoluted, world-shaking type of plot that so many fantasy series strive for these days; rather, these are smaller tales, delivering lots of adventure and action without the often weighty issues of other books. Sometimes, a dose of fun is just what you need, and the Egil and Nix stories are just that.

I get the feeling that my role-playing friends would love these novels, because the main characters get up to the same antics that they would, merrily rampaging around trying to keep from getting killed. In a way, it made me feel that I know these characters even better, because their brand of devil-may-care mayhem reminds me of in-game situations that I’ve witnessed. A Discourse in Steel is a heck of a fun read, and I can’t wait until the next one comes out!

Also by this author: The Hammer and the Blade

Series: Tales of Egil and Nix
ISBN: 9780857662538
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page Count: 352
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Author Website
Read an excerpt