Monday, July 28, 2014

Haven't been here in a while...

Here recently, I went through this blog and goodreads and found out new books had come out in series that I completely missed. Kelly McCullough's Bared Blade happens to be the first one to come in at the library.

I started the series waaaaay back here, so here's a quick refresher on setting. Aral lives in the city of Tien, doing work in the underworld. He started life as a Blade, a servant of the goddess of justice, Namara. Namara got killed by the new gods and her temple razed; he servants were mostly destroyed, although a few remain, working clandestinely for the new King. (Aral killed the old one.) Aral has a shadow familiar, Triss, who provides much of the comic relief.

Aral ended the last book crawling his way out of the bottle and getting a new lease on life, which is why it's kind of amusing that he's in a bar at the start of this one. (His struggles with drinking provide an undercurrent of conflict throughout.) However, like any good noir (even fantasy noir), trouble walks in wearing the form of two beautiful women, one of whom resembles Aral's old flame.

The fact that both women share a mind with a meld has kind of an effect on their relationship with Aral. (They're the visible parts of a Dyad, two bonded mages who also share a third mind, in this case named Valor of Steel.) The Dyad also happen to be targets of the local Elite Kingsguard, who break in and tear up the bar where Vos is talking with Aral. Upon escaping, Aral runs afoul of Qethar, a Durkoth seeking the Kothmerk. (That's a lot of gobbledegook. Durkoth and an Other race, beings purely of the Earth. As such, he's kind of a moving Greek statue. that can make the Earth move under his feet. And more.) Qethar and Aral enter an uneasy truce to find the Ruby ring that confers rulership of the Durkoth that was last seen in the slaughtered parter the Dyad was part of.

There's a lot of crossing and double crossing, plus more revelations from Fei, the shadowside Police officer who knows exactly who Aral is. And ongoing revelations from Aral as he tries to figure out what justice actually is without a goddess providing it.

Once again, McCullough writes an excellent yarn, and I'm kind of curious as to what the next book in the series (that cam out last December) has in store, given some of the plot development in this one. As I said last time, everything of his that I've read has been worth the time investment.