A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Before any more time goes by I’d like to review A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night—a strange, small, Persian-language vampire movie set in Iran but filmed in California. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, it began making the rounds of film festivals almost two years ago and was finally released online in April. So far it has only pulled in about $500, 000 at the box office. But while it isn’t a money-maker, it is a popular darling. The low-key, positive word-of-mouth about it never stopped—and for good reason.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night claims to be a vampire spaghetti western, and in some respects it is. But it is also a stylized horror film, a supernatural romance, and possibly even an avant garde coming-of-age story for our human hero. This is one of those weird, beautiful little movies that straddles classic and experimental in interesting ways and is well worth the hundred minutes it will take to watch it.

In broad strokes, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night takes place in a decaying western town where the life of a young man rapidly losing hope intersects with the existence of a vampire willing to show a measure of mercy. The town, called simply Bad City, is a bleak landscape of factories, tiny houses, packed apartment blocks, chain link fences, and graffiti. There is a railroad, and oilfields, and flat, dusty stretches of scrub. Bad City has its wealth, but it doesn’t trickle down.

Amirpour plays with incongruity throughout the film. Her vampire is a predator, one who will slaughter her chosen prey with no mercy and then steal anything of value she can easily carry away. But she is also capable of letting a young boy go under the implied threat in her question, “Are you a good boy?” She spares a not-entirely jaded prostitute, telling her the shared truth “You’re sad. You don’t remember what you want. You don’t remember wanting. It passed long ago. And nothing ever changes.” And when she meets Arash, stoned out of his mind and wandering the streets dressed as Dracula, she makes the decision to bring him to her home when he tells her, “I’m lost.”

And lost he is. Arash knows he is being pulled inexorably into a criminal life, and his only chance to save himself is to get out. “Let’s leave Bad City. Come with me. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me alone” he begs the vampire. His wants, her mercy, and the decisions they make while knowing they do not know each other are the core of the story. Desperation is a serious driver.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night--Arash and the Vampire
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night—Arash and the Vampire

The black-and-white cinematography in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is gorgeous, at turns hallucinatory and starkly real. There are elements of Eraserhead, Near Dark, and Let the Right One In (the original, not the remake) in the lighting and atmosphere, and even something reminiscent of The Last Picture Show in the setting. Sheila Vand as the unnamed vampire and Arash Marandi as Arash, the young man who courts her are both luminous, beautiful creatures. It is hard to look away from any of Amirpour’s actors—even the criminal Saeed (Dominic Rains) and the aging prostitute Atti (Mozhan Marnò) are rendered beautiful in their dusty, night-ridden world.

An amazing, electronica-heavy soundtrack carries along the story’s shifting moods effectively. For example, the opening scene has Arash walking past an open trench full of discarded bodies to the distorted rhythm of a tinny, carnivalesque song slowing down like a music box in need of winding. In between the songs there are strange, still moments without dialogue that only deepen the soundtrack’s effect. Even when the characters speak with each other, the dialogue is spare, structured, and often oddly formal, with much of the emotional weight remaining with the music.

But Aminpour doesn’t stand strictly on formality. In A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night she makes clever use of several old tropes. Classic vampire postures are reinterpreted here, with the vampire girl lying awake on the bed in her basement bedroom during the days, or her black chador billowing behind her like wings while she rides a stolen, completely incongruous skateboard through a deserted neighborhood. Beneath her flowing cloak, this vampire wears jeans and a striped tee shirt. And her basement room seems to be made of remembered eighties high-school trivia—a mirror ball, not-quite Madonna and Bee-Gees posters, string lights, a turntable and records. But against the teen-aged backdrop, there is something incredibly mournful in the young vampire’s face, framed by the black chador, her dark eyes ringed with kohl, blood smeared around her mouth like lipstick.

Amirpour is skilled with these contrasts. There are ripples of playfulness, even silliness, generated by the skateboard and by the wanderings of a fat, placid cat. There are also elements of the surreal in characters like the silent man in a fancy western shirt, full female makeup, and a delicate head scarf dancing with a balloon, or the multiple unnamed people dumping bodies into the open pit in full daylight. The combination is one of carefully weighted unease and amusement.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night--Vampire, Cat, and Arash
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night—Vampire, Cat, and Arash

In A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Ana Lily Amirpour has created a small jewel of a vampire movie. With understated but well-placed gore and a reliance on what is not said, she makes a movie that is at once familiar and still asks her viewer to think. Even her final scene strikes a note of uncertainty, questioning what had seemed until then a foreseeable resolution. I enjoyed the discomfort. I look forward to what will come next.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

And as always, please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section!

Some holiday specials are more special than others. Sure, we are all familiar with the big ones like A Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, maybe National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation… They’re classics, familiar and comforting. We can even count on series TV for a few good seasonal episodes.

But then there are those other holiday specials that are extra-special, the ones that are a little bit too far out there to win acceptance into mainstream tradition and that crop up rarely if at all. I love those. Overlooked, cheesy, or simply weird, they have their place at the table. Here is a small sample of my favorites, for your viewing pleasure.

A Cosmic Christmas Special
A Cosmic Christmas Special

Way back in 1977, the Canadian entertainment company Nelvana gave us a bit of awkward and inspired whimsy called A Cosmic Christmas. The animation is stylized, choppy, and repetitive. It wraps its seasonal message up in the adventures of a small boy, some fearful townspeople, a goose, and three space aliens standing in for the Three Wise Men. As far as I know, it was only broadcast a single time in the US—and lucky for me, I saw it. You can, too, on Youtube or Vimeo.

The Star Wars Holiday Special
The Star Wars Holiday Special

Which leads us to our next show, the legendary 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special. As Wookie-centric holiday themed space variety shows go, this was… really special. Bea Arthur made an appearance. There was juggling. Chewbacca’s son was named Lumpy. Lumpy! Nelvana was coincidently involved with this show as well, producing an animated segment that introduced the world to Boba Fett. The holiday special was broadcast only once before disappearing, but of course you can still watch it on Youtube.PeeweesPlayhouseChristmasSpecial

The 1988 Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special skipped over outer space in favor of straight-on odd. The Christmas Special was as a surreal holiday variety show that was completely faithful to the show that spawned it. The special featured appearances by (among many others) Cher, Grace Jones (whose performance here is making the online rounds lately), Oprah Winfrey, and Magic Johnson. The celebrities were sprinkled in among the usual wackiness of Pee-wee Herman’s world of talking chairs, genies, and robots. You can watch it in low-res on Youtube, or for better quality, snag it on Amazon.Opus_'n'_Bill_-_A_Wish_for_Wings_That_Work_DVD_cover

Last but not least, we have the 1991 Opus (literally), A Wish for Wings That Work, based on Berkley Breathed’s comic strip Bloom County. It features a penguin who wants to fly, ducks, a burnt-out alley cat, assorted neurotic children, and a support group for flightless waterfowl. And Santa. And wishes that come true. No aliens. No variety acts. Just a sarcastic and sincere holiday tribute to hope and friendship. It is of course on Youtube. Or, if you’re like me, you can get the book.

Now, I know I’ve missed a few, like The Simpsons, Pinky and the Brain, A Muppet Christmas Carol, even the multicultural Rugrats. Their holiday specials are also on the strange side, but they are also more firmly placed in mainstream series vehicles. The four specials I listed above are all way out there in their own unique ways—silly, smarmy, nonsensical, and snide. That’s what makes them my favorites. They’re like family—for all their flaws, it’s just not the holidays without them. So, happy watching, and happy holidays from Nerdgoblin!

 

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

And as always, please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SPOILER ALERT!

 

SERIOUSLY. SPOILERS.

J.J. Abrams continuation/reboot of the venerable Star Wars franchise is exactly what we need after the travesties that were Episodes I, II, and III. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is spectacular, it is funny, and it is instantly relatable. Pretty darn good for an update to a forty year old space opera.

The Force Awakens digs deep into the original trilogy to remind us why these movies are so iconic and why we love them as much as we do. The wreckage of star cruisers and AT-ATs on Jakkar was beautifully done, and gave both continuity and a good visual sense of the epic sweep of the story. The Force Awakens happens on new planets, but it feels like we are returning to Tatooine, Endor, and Hoth. The legendary Cantina scene is loosely recreated, as is Luke’s vision in the cave. Sets and costumes and even actors are meant to recall the originals in all their glory– Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata stands in for Yoda, while Max von Sydow lasted just long enough to resemble Obi Wan. Of course, all this goes on against the background of another fantastic John Williams score.

One reminder from the original trilogy stands out above all the others. The return of the Millennium Falcon more than anything is the bridge between the old and the new, and a spectacular bridge it is. The way the Falcon endures, the way Rey handles it, and the way Han trusts Rey with it could not symbolize the changing of the guard any more clearly.

The First Order is The Force Awakens’s revived version of the Galactic Empire, and uses most of the same structure and devices as the originals. As always, the political environment is an indecipherable mess and the dark side’s epic weapons are really poorly designed. It’s always best with Star Wars to gloss over the politics and avoid deep thoughts on the technology—that’s not what any of this is about. As in the original trilogy, the true strength of Star Wars: The Force Awakens lies in its characters

Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron is a wonder. He brings a little crazy to every role, and as a hotshot rebel pilot, it is perfect. Poe actually reminds me a bit of Han—and that’s a good thing. Daisy Ridley’s Rey is a tough, sympathetic lead even more capable than Leia because of her newly discovered command of the Force. That, and Luke’s lightsaber. It’s a formula for another icon. As Rey’s sidekick/partner, John Boyega’s Finn is charming and funny and convincing as a developing rebel warrior. There is an easy camaraderie between Rey and Finn and promises of substantial character development built on a strong foundation.

The dark side is a little less well-defined. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren has presence, but he also looks unnervingly like Severus Snape when he takes his mask off. And although he has his grandfather’s melted helmet as a symbol of his intentions (and a good indicator of what will happen when Han finally catches up with him), Kylo has a long way to go to measure up to Darth Vader. As General Hux, Domhnall Gleeson makes an interesting foil to the conflicted Kylo Ren much as Grand Moff Tarkin was for Vader. Gleeson does his best Peter Cushing impersonation, stiff and clipped and cold, but comes off as one-dimensional where Ren is allowed some depth.

The CGI characters were a little too Disneyfied for me, and too obviously CGI—both Maz Kanata and Supreme Leader Snoke were overly elfin for my taste, with tiny noses and chins and an almost childish appearance. This was the only aspect that reminded me of the terrible prequels, and pulled me out of the action.

I did think most of the veteran Star Wars characters were actually underutilized. The audience went wild with each new appearance of a beloved familiar face. But while Han and Chewbacca had a pivotal role to play in handing over the reins to the new guard, Leia, C3PO, and R2D2 are in The Force Awakens more for nostalgia points than for plot. I hope they will play larger roles in Episode 8, when Luke makes his return.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly has the Disney touch on it, with skilled emotional manipulation and more cutesy characters than usual for the films, but the Star Wars universe can handle it. The Star Wars universe still has a story to tell, and new blood to tell it with. Pretty darn good indeed.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

And as always, please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section!

manhattanghoststory
A Manhattan Ghost Story, 1984 cover art

As I mentioned in my previous post, my first encounter with the late T.M. Wright was his 1984 novel A Manhattan Ghost Story. I picked it up as a teenager, thinking it was just another cheap horror novel. I was wrong. It treated the dead differently than anything else I’d read before—not as monsters, but as damaged people trying to get by. The old physical copy of the book is long gone, but the mood of the story has always stayed with me. It is a horror novel without horror. It is sad, instead of scary, thoughtful instead of graphic. Sentimental. Wistful. Messy, like life.

In many ways A Manhattan Ghost Story is an earlier rendition of the stylistic and conceptual quirks found in The Last Vampire. But while the two novels are thematically related, they look at the central idea of the lingering, still-wounded dead from opposite sides of the veil. I think because it has a living protagonist, A Manhattan Ghost Story is a more direct narrative. But it still repeats itself at frequent intervals because of the habits and patterns the ghosts are caught in. It is also inconclusive. It begins and wanders on to an end but never truly resolves—a difficult trait in a novel.

Still, A Manhattan Ghost Story may have been Wright’s most commercially successful work. It was optioned several times (with the rights last purchased by Disney in 2006), but in the end it was never filmed. Which may be for the best. The prose is straightforward and the settings mundane, but this is a strange, slow, dreamy, and at times blunt novel built on layers of perception rather than on action. What happens is often just repetitive motion, fragments of lives remembered and replayed on a loop, because so many of Wright’s characters are already dead.

In A Manhattan Ghost Story, Wright’s POV character Abner Cray receives the unwanted gift of seeing ghosts. Abner doesn’t realize it until after he has met and fallen in love with the ghost of his best friend’s murdered girlfriend. The novel follows Abner as he learns, painfully, to distinguish the living from the dead when he has already been drawn too deeply into their world.  As Abner explains, “I have learned that the living are not very different from the dead.  And I have learned that you often need a very good eye, indeed, to tell the difference” (50).

Here, Wright’s ghosts are physical and social and superficially have agency—but they exist within narrow parameters, able to create an illusion of free-will while repeating bits of their own pasts in a quest for resolution. The ghosts themselves are haunted. And this makes any interaction with them unnerving:

“‘Unfinished business,’ that’s what my mom says.”  He sounded much more petulant, now—a little angry, in fact.  ‘You want a puppy?  You can have one cheap.  Two dollars.’  I looked back at the boy… and the boy was staring up at me and giving me his   heart-rending plaintive smile again.  ‘Hey mister, you want a puppy?’ he asked. ‘You can have one cheap.  Two dollars.’ I didn’t answer. I had begun to have an understanding of what exactly was happening to me, and of the world I’d stumbled into” (123).

The world Wright creates for the dead is as full and busy as the world of the living, and as complicated, because in many aspects they aren’t very different: “Pettiness survives.  And jealousy.  And pretentiousness, fear, loneliness, depression.  I have learned that the living haven’t yet cornered the market on misery” (135). But there is more to it than that: “…the dead sing, and laugh, and sit up, look around, cry, want. And they’re confused, too.  Confused and lonely.  And they hurt.  And, at last, they come apart and go off to someplace else” (212). Essentially, Wright’s ghosts experience an incomplete and abbreviated version of their lives, existing as their own echoes before fading out.

It is finally that coming apart that brings A Manhattan Ghost Story to its indeterminate end. Abner may love a ghost, and she may in her way love him, too. But none of that can keep her anchored in the world: “I am coming apart,” she said.  “We come apart.  We all come apart … We leave.  We go away” (205). It is the ultimate unfinished business.

T.M. Wright
T.M. Wright

It is the falling apart, I think, the going away, that is the saddest aspect of A Manhattan Ghost Story. While Wright’s last vampire outlived his wants, these ghosts have not. They still desire what they had in life, even if it is messy and incomplete. Even if it is always unfinished. In that, they are indeed very much like the rest of us.

Thank you for that, Mr. Wright. And, goodbye.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

And as always, please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section!

T.M. Wright in 1992
T.M. Wright in 1992

The horror author T. M. Wright passed away on Halloween. By pure coincidence I had just reread his 1991 novel The Last Vampire when the news of his death came down.  Wright was a skilled storyteller with an often surprising imagination and a deep sense of life’s essential melancholy, and he was quite prolific over the course of his career. While his style can be an acquired taste, I admire his way of exploring the dark and I think his work should be remembered. So please forgive any poignancy in what was supposed to be a simple review.

Although I had encountered his work when I was a kid, I didn’t recognize Wright’s name when I found a copy of The Last Vampire in a vacation rental some ten years back. I started it as a way to read myself to sleep, but the premise and the storytelling were so… different, so haunting… that I took the old paperback with me when I left.

The Last Vampire has a meandering, nonlinear narrative structure and gives a fine example of an unreliable narrator in the title character. Wright’s style is dreamlike, suffused with loss, and sadness, and nostalgia, and an ability to twist and recombine genre tropes into unexpected constructs. His prose moves quickly, and the story slips by even as it circles back on itself and retells certain resonant fragments.

The Last Vampire
The Last Vampire

The Last Vampire takes place after a nuclear apocalypse has wiped out most of humanity. Wright begins with a frame story that is never completed, and is then, after a short, unconnected section about a midnight vampire rodeo, told entirely in the first person by the last vampire himself, Elmer Land. The frame occurs about fifty years post-apocalypse, while the bulk of the novel happens shortly after the destruction. Wright repeats passages to mimic a slipping memory as Land recounts his existence as both human and vampire. Regrets creep in during the telling, and exhaustion. “I persist, even now. Persist. Persist. Resist. Cannot go away. Leave nothing, take nothing, break hearts and bones, hearts and bones…” (62). There is a mood to The Last Vampire that echoes the mood in Tanith Lee’s short story “Nunc Dimittis”—a pervasive sense of loneliness and of too much time spent merely existing.

Elmer first appears as a disembodied spirit reaching out, not so much for contact as for proof that he had been, once: “One moment we’re a living person, we have the needs of a living person, the next moment we’re an obscenity, then, moments later, we’re an apparition. I believe at this moment in my existence, I’m an apparition” (22).

And at the end of the world, what remains of the last vampire is also the last connection to the common dead:

“…they whisper to me that they never ever thought it was going to be like this, that they had expected something a bit more final, or a bit more ethereal. But they wait inside themselves, instead, and watch their bodies come apart, and they feel the awful pain that they were so certain death was going to bring an end to” (64).

Being a revenant himself, Elmer is aware of the world’s lingering ghosts. He cannot speak to them because of his own limits, but he can hear their complaints and affirm the dimming memory of their lives. It is the same affirmation he seeks for himself.

A defining quality of vampirism in The Last Vampire is the lack of one’s own senses. Elmer may hear the thoughts of the dead, but he relies on his similar ability to “read” the living to be able to see and hear the world around him. Much of it still remains beyond his experience, and he knows what he misses: “I need to talk about my first kill. Call it nostalgia, I suppose. My memory of it stirs something sweet in me. Bitter-sweet. I could never taste blood, though I’ve always wanted to”(225-6).

While his vampire is still a bloodthirsty monster, Wright infuses the character with a layered sense of his own identity. Elmer Land describes his state as, “…like a termite eating someone’s house up. I can’t be reasoned with, I can only be exterminated, and that is so terribly difficult” (137-8). But he still defines himself as a different thing than the vampire who made him. She was “…the archetypal vampire…a wide-eyed, quivering, and insatiable mass of fears and compulsions which, because of its own needs, eventually dooms itself”(199). Elmer was never superstitious in life; and in death escaped the trap of becoming what the legends said he should be. But the bloodlust was inescapable: “I knew so well about compulsion. Here I am, inside this creature, this old corpse that still tries to animate itself, and I want to cry my eyes out. I thank God I cannot live forever. I thank God that the house has fallen down around me and there is no more work for me to do” (262). Elmer’s remaining consciousness is still self-aware, and with that comes regrets about what his life and death have made of him. There are elements of self-loathing, but they are secondary to the great weariness of a creature that has far outlived his own wants.

In The Last Vampire, T.M. Wright takes his readers to the world’s end to endure compulsion, nostalgia, loss, and desire. These are themes that Wright has explored in other works as well. He is comfortable with them, and adept at making his reader feel what is gone. And since I am not ready to let him go just yet, my next post will look at how he interpreted those themes through a living protagonist in the first novel of his that I read—A Manhattan Ghost Story.

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

And as always, please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section!

Blade of the Destroyer
Blade of the Destroyer

Today, I’d like to review a work by a new author. The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer is Andy Peloquin’s second book (his first is available on his website), and it is a sturdy, serviceable fantasy adventure. Blade of the Destroyer has a solid plot, fast pacing, and lots of action. The story is energetic, with vivid fight scenes and a promising set of characters. As the first book in a planned trilogy, they will have room to grow.

Blade of the Destroyer’s anti-hero protagonist, the Hunter, is a legendary assassin in the port city of Voramis. He wields a dangerous, sentient dagger named Soulhunger, that costs him for its services: “One scar for every life Soulhunger takes. How many are there now?” (Kindle Locations 342-343). Drawn into a cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil, the Hunter is forced to confront his own role in it.

The cast of characters and the forces at work in the plot are all named to intimidate: the Hunter, Soulhunger, the Dark Heresy, the Bloody Hand. And of course, there is also a secret priesthood: “We are the last line of defense against the darkness. We are the ones who forever watch, to prevent the return of demons to this world…We are the Cambionari.” (Kindle Location 3030-3032).

Most aspects of the story are larger than life. Blade of the Destroyer touches on many of the major tropes of traditional Dungeons and Dragons style fantasy fiction—mysterious heroes, voluptuous wenches, pompous lords and ladies, thieves and strongmen, taverns and palaces and secret cults, half-bloods and demons and gods and sorcery. There are lots of burly warriors, lots of beautiful and treacherous noblewomen, lots of sweet innocent children in need of protection. Much familiar ground is covered.

Adding to the familiarity is that many of Peloquin’s inspirations are right on the surface. The most obvious is his homage to Michael Moorcock’s Elric Saga and the soul-stealing sword Stormbringer. Biblical references also play a large role (especially toward the end of the book), from the Apostles: “There are twelve of us here, and, with the Hunter, we are thirteen. The number of the gods themselves” (Kindle Locations 3350-3355), to Satan: “Shem-zith-el, mighty warrior of the Fallen Host!” (Kindle Location 4740), to Hell itself: “We are Legion” (Kindle Location 4925). I also detected a touch of Tim Powers’s Stress of Her Regard, with the Cambionari and their iron weapons that turn demons to stone closely following Powers’s Carbonari and his stony vampires. There is even a throwaway reference to Batman: “I can see it now: the Hunter, the hero Voramis deserves.” (Kindle Locations 4399-4401).

I found repetitive descriptions and inconsistent dialogue to be the main flaws of the novel. Certain adjectives were overused, lessening their impact. And character conversations occasionally came across as clunky and overdone, with speech styles shifting between pseudo-medieval and modern, and some passages falling into the bad-guy-explains-everything-to-the-captive-hero category.

As a result of those two issues, I felt the characters were somewhat flat—vigorous action took precedence over depth of development. But there are other books coming that will give Peloquin a chance to flesh them out.

With Blade of the Destroyer, it strikes me that Peloquin hasn’t yet fully settled in to his own voice but that he has great potential. Among the familiar trappings of main-stream heroic fantasy, there are flashes of a very sharp wit and a snarky sense of humor that balances the bloodshed and grim doings. Some of my favorites are:

 “Unwary visitors to the district often woke up with an aching head and an empty purse, not to mention a host of persistent diseases on body parts better kept free of infection” (Kindle Locations 96-98).

“The Cock and Bull—an inn known for cheap beer and cheaper women” (Kindle Location 100).

“One word,” growled the shadow, “and I gut you like a pig. Got it?” Ever the pragmatist, Reder nodded” (Kindle Locations 3923-3924).

Peloquin also included an exchange between two minor characters that reminded me in its playfulness of something out of Shakespeare:

“Well,” began Sor, “I knew I had a—” His words were cut off as his friend smacked him on the back of his head. “Ow! What in the flooded hell was that for, Yim?” “That’s for wagerin’ our duties on a pair of rods, and forgettin’ Harkin had been sittin’ on triple spires all night long,” Yim muttered (Kindle Locations 599-611).

These quips and odd bits were unexpected, funny, and very engaging. They were the pieces that I think showed Peloquin’s skills to their best advantage and leavened the seriousness of the story.

My takeaway is that Blade of the Destroyer is a generally solid sophomore effort whose strengths lie more in its plot structure and pacing than in its characters’ depths. Entertaining and unsurprising, Blade of the Destroyer is still an enjoyable run through of the main tropes of heroic fantasy fiction. And in the Hunter, Andy Peloquin has created a character that, with some polish and additional, personalized nuance, will certainly be able to stand his ground for the rest of the series.

A little bit about Andy Peloquin:

Andy Peloquin, author of Blade of the Destroyer
Andy Peloquin, author of Blade of the Destroyer

Andy Peloquin–a third culture kid to the core–has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.

When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back since.

Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

His website (http://www.andypeloquin.com) is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings–along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.

He can also be found on his social media pages, such as:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndyPeloquin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andyqpeloquin

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com. Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

And as always, please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section!