SNAKE­WOOD Top­ping Twenty

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - David West

re­leased OUT NOW! 414 pages | Hard­cover/ ebook

Au­thor Adrian Selby

Pub­lisher Or­bit Books

At the height of their fame, Kailen’s Twenty were the most feared mer­ce­nar­ies in the world – the finest tac­ti­cians, drud­has ( brew­ers of poi­sons and po­tions) and fight­ers ever as­sem­bled. But 15 years af­ter the Twenty dis­banded, some­one is hunt­ing them down and killing them one by one…

In his de­but fan­tasy ad­ven­ture, Adrian Selby shows that his strengths lie in world- build­ing and fast- paced fight scenes. How­ever, when the char­ac­ters aren’t cross­ing swords Snake­wood be­comes bogged down by un­wieldy prose and ex­po­si­tion dumps – par­tic­u­larly in the se­cond half. On the for­mer score, wit­ness Kailen’s de­scrip­tion of his spouse: “My wife has the habit those born from the very wealth­i­est fam­i­lies all have, a grace gen­tly forged from the lack of want, a guile­less ex­pec­ta­tion of de­cency and a cu­rios­ity and com­pas­sion for those peo­ple’s lives the hot­ter and more in­ti­mately joy­ous and cruel for the want that shapes their suf­fer­ing and am­bi­tion.” Oof.

The per­spec­tive shifts be­tween let­ters/ his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments and in­ter­nal mono­logues, which are not nat­u­ral bed­fel­lows, but the reg­u­lar in­jec­tions of ac­tion sus­tain just enough mo­men­tum to carry the reader on.

Adrian Selby was chiefly in­flu­enced by two things: 2000 AD strip Sláine and, er, the time he took magic mush­rooms.

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