Thursday, October 13, 2011

[Book Review] The New Death and others

[I received a request to review a book by the author.  This is that review.  I may do this more in the future.]

I just finished reading The New Death and others, a compilation of short stories and poetry by James Hutchings, who blogs over at Teleleli.  I read the Kindle version, which I liked very much.  My initial impression is that this is actually two different compilations mingled together, one I liked very much and wanted more of, the other I was more neutral towards, but was willing to keep reading.

The compilation I liked very much was the material about the city of Telelee, its gods, and the world it inhabited.  I liked how the short stories were linked implicitly, not explicitly.  Each story covered something specific, but borrowed from an earlier story and often contributed to a later story.  I liked this world and as a gamer would want to adventure in it.  The God of the Poor did a surprisingly good job setting up the stories that followed.  The Prince of the Howling Forest was not as strong, but I very much liked The Scholar and The Moon.  The only point where this collection breaks down is when Mr. Hutchings uses the gods in a modern setting, particularly Fame's Beloved.  Your mileage may vary.

The "other" compilation in this book is Mr. Hutchings writings that are a more modern bent.  This ranges from commentary on things going on now (The Face in the Hill and Rumpelstiltskin) to a ribald Sherlock Holmes story (The Adventure of the Murdered Philanthropist and its very entertaining footnotes) to poetry based on stories by other authors (and here I mean Lovecraft, R. E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Lord Dunsany).  Poetry is not my thing, but I appreciate the work that it takes to write.  Of these, The Garden of Adompha seemed to work best.  I have an MP3 of Fritz Lieber reading A Night in Malneant by Clark Ashton Smith at World Fantasy Con III and that is the voice I heard in my head for all the poetry.  The piece I Heard the Mermaids Singing also worked particularly well.

The prose writing was solid all the way through, even in bits where what was being told was not as strong.  I think I only noticed one typo (a "then" instead of "than" if I remember correctly), which is damn good as I edit professionally and very much appreciate the effort taken.  Considering the sometimes cavalier attitude taken in the gaming hobby industry towards copyediting, I like the sense of pride and professionalism shown here.

Also, I like the cover art.  It is simple, but fits the book well, particularly the titular story, The New Death.

Summation: I liked this book and recommend it to others, particularly the Telelee-related material.  Also, don't mess with the elephants of Telelee.  Ever.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks very much for this review. Btw the links to buy it are: