Kyla Ward has reviewed Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead on Tabula Rasa, displaying a wonderfully lyrical turn in describing the book — as we might have expected from a poet of her calibre. Take this, for example:
There are incredible depths to this world, depths that the novel’s plot skims like a pebble across a lake’s surface, gaining momentum with each skip.
The paragraph continues:
This is thanks to Hood’s skill at transmuting back story into exciting narrative vignettes: story-telling, reportage, bardic performance (with snarky commentary from Tashnark), memory, dream and hallucination induced by demon poison: all interwoven seamlessly with present events. The pace is truly frenetic, with running battles, storms and a ship-board zombie-wrestling sequence that can only be read, not described. If things ever slow, Tashnark can be relied upon to get them going again — he’s a gem of character, and the principal observer of how artificial all this heroism is.
I love this introductory summation:
This is a tale of heroes. It includes all sorts — born of the gods, descended from ancient, magical bloodline, member of a legendary order, reincarnated, last of their tribe and way too intimate with their own sentient weapon — cycling through various degrees of reluctant and unlikely. There is a villain, of course, although he’s thoroughly sick of the whole business; dark gods, giant monsters and an ancient magical artefact. But principally it is a tale of heroes, heroism and what it means to be in such an uncomfortable position.
As an interrogation of the assumptions of high fantasy rather than a parody, this book is a highly refreshing change. With its distinctive and not inaccurate Bob Eggleton cover, and solid production from Borgo Press, it makes a fine addition to Hood’s bibliography and the Australian fantasy canon.
“….a ship-board zombie-wrestling sequence that can only be read, not described.”
How can you resist?