Thursday, June 7, 2018

Book Review: 'The Snowtiger's Trail' by Watson Davis

Texas born author Watson Davis earned his degree in mathematics and now lives in Spain where he fluently writes novels of fantasy, science fiction, magic and technology, swords and sorcery and military space operas.

Good fantasy demands a fine proscenium arch that displays an image rich backdrop before which the imagination will evolve. Watson provides this with then following descriptive stage setting – ‘Wisebrand leaned back, resting his head and shoulders against the wall next to the door to King Thrune’s quarters. The deck bucked beneath his feet, rolling and dropping in a random, nauseating fashion as his sweaty hands gripped his spear with white knuckles. On the other side of the door, his long-time friend Meril stood guard as well, his face pale and green in the magelight. Meril muttered, “I can’t take much more of this.” Wisebrand gulped and said, “It’s better than being belowdecks or—all the gods forbid—on deck. At least we’re dry, and the air is almost fresh. Just hang on. We’ll land soon.” Meril groaned. “We’d better.” The door to the main deck flew open, unleashing a frigid wind that blew in and swirled around them. Driu Mum, King Thrune’s foreign bodyguard, dashed in and slammed the door shut. Water dripped from his dour face. He glared at Wisebrand and Meril as he straightened the long and short swords—thin and delicate compared to Gehendian blades—tucked into the black sash around his waist. Wisebrand straightened up, coming to full attention. Meril scrabbled to match him with arms flailing. Driu Mum stomped down the hall and stopped before Wisebrand, glaring up at him and then raising an eyebrow. “The king?” “He’s with his lords, sir,” Wisebrand said, turning in the narrow corridor to allow Driu Mum easier access to the door. “One of you should be inside with him.” Wisebrand shrugged. “He ordered us out.”
Driu Mum growled. He stepped forward and threw the door open, entering the king’s quarters without bothering to knock, and Wisebrand followed him, just in case.’

And once the mood is established the characters are introduced in the brief synopsis: ‘Welcome to Windhaven and the Wrath of the Wizard-King! A deposed Wizard-king leads his ragged band of followers to the last town before the Far Waste and hides there from his vengeful queen while building an army to re-take his rightful kingdom. A regular army won't do for the Wizard-king. He needs something deadlier, something magical, something demonic. When Wallak of the Bright Fox tribe wakes up from a night of carousing in Ancliff, he can't find his nephew. He can't return to his tribe alone, but if he discovers his nephew whereabouts, he may never return to his tribe at all. This is a swords and sorcery tale of dark, soul-twisting magic where no-one is safe.’

For those who love dark fantasy this book is sure to delight. At times the strange names of people and places and concepts get in the way, but Watson has provided a richly designed glossary at book’s end to aid the committed reader. There will be more. Grady Harp, April 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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