Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Sable City - M. Edward McNally

2011; 475 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Epic Fantasy.  Book #1 of "The Norothian Cycle".  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Tilda Lanai and Captain Block are hunting the rogue legionnaire, John Deskata.  Zebulon Baj Nif has been "borrowed" for his translating skills by a Samurai, a Healer, and their reclusive employer.  Phinneas Phoarty, a mage with the skills somewhere between Gandalf and Rincewind (probably closer to Rincewind) also gets coaxed into that group.  The Duchess Claudja Perforce and her bodyguard, Sir Lucas Towsan, are on their way to a Jobian temple.

    Everyone has hidden agendas.  All three bands (with a couple additions and subtractions) will cross paths in the muddy streets of Camp Town.  In the shadow of the Sable City.  All agendas, hidden or open, will be changed.

What's To Like...
    The Sable City pays heavy tribute to AD&D quests, along with a couple nods to LOTR (doesn't anyone go over mountains anymore?).  There are dragons and goblins, clerics and mages, devils and armies; and although elves and halflings don't show up, they are cited as if they exist.

    We follow Tilda and Block's travels exclusively for the first 8 chapters.  It's a bit of a challenge, as they're "off" the book's map (to the north).  The story has some slow spots as the author introduces you to his world and its characters, but this is all for a good cause.  Once that's out of the way, things pick up sharply, and the action flows full force the rest of the way.

    There are an adequate number of plot twists, some token romance, and enough humor to keep the overall mood from getting too dark.  The characters aren't particularly deep, but they are endearing.  Even the evil ones are fun to follow.  The ending is quite satisfying, despite this being Book One of a series.

Kewlest New Word...
Poniard (adj.) : dagger-like (here, "poniard teeth")

    Zeb laid prostrate and bled, managing to do no more than slowly move his left arm across his chest to grip his right hard above the ruined elbow.  Even the slight motion of his arm against the ground sent a new wave of blaring pain over him, swimming the sky and making air hiss out between his teeth like a kettle.
    After moments that seemed much longer, Zeb's leftenant appeared over him.  He shouted for a tourniquet, then knelt and clamped both hands around Zeb's arm.
    "It could be worse," the leftenant said.  Zeb looked at him with the one eye he still had open.
    "How do you figure, sir?"
    "Well... they could have shot me."  (12% Kindle; location 1142)

    Nesha-tari had not learned her magic in the manner of an Imperial Wizard.  No Circle had neutered her mind, forcing false obstructions between her will and her power.  To release in invocation like the lightning that was the attack form favored by her Master, she did not have to memorize spells and bind their release to meaningless words, gestures, and material components.  If Nesha-tari wanted to throw lightning, she would bring it into being in her hands.  If she wanted a shield against scrying magic, it formed unseen in the air around her (76% Kindle; location 7127)

Kindle Details...
  I downloaded TSC for free at Amazon, but it's $2.99 now.  Death of a Kingdom (Book 2) and The Wind from Miilark (Book 3) are both $4.99.  I'm not sure if this is a trilogy or a continuing series.

Good luck wears off, the Tulls had said.  Bad luck lasts forever.  (location 400)
    The Sable City has some weaknesses, but they're minor.  M. Edward McNally goes overboard with descriptions at the outset, but this tapers off nicely once the action gets going.  The map is sucky, but perhaps it's better on the Kindle Fire than on my Kindle.

    At its core, TSC reminds me less of LOTR, and more of a Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman series.  Some of us think that's still pretty freakin' kewl.  8 Stars.


M. Edward McNally said...

Thanks much, Hamilcar (and say hello to Hannibal for me).

Yes, the series continues with volume four (Devil Town), slated for a late June release. Drop me a line if you are interested, I'm super easy with dispatching review copies. ;-)

Ed McNally

Hamilcar Barca said...

i'd be happy to review Devil Town. i think i'll read #2 and #3 beforehand, as i have a feeling these are not stand-alone novels.

my e-mail address is ter3600lud (at)