I received the novel as a giveaway at the Scarborough Fantasycon event 2016. I give this book a 3.6 because Paul managed to keep me engaged, even though the beginning of the novel did not draw me in: I overcame this hurdle once I began to understand the characters. I agree with what reviewer Chelsea says about the author successfully delivering a spirit of brotherly camaraderie. Nix is the protagonist who resorts to ironic jokes and taunts when he is cornered. Egil is his massive, hammer-wielding protector, though Nix is talented in using the falchion he carries and the bag he has full of sorcerous tricks and delights.
The two, not surprisingly, manage to land themselves in a world of trouble which basically is how this story unfolds. I will not be giving any spoilers here so I will concentrate on the characters. Egil, a priest of a long-dead god, is Nix’s voice of conscience and Nix looks up to him when it comes to moral issues. Nix has been through a lot as a child, which is why he has been shaped into the strong-willed character he now pretends to be: I say pretends, because at times he still feels prior weaknesses bearing him down. In “the Hammer and the Blade” author Paul Kemp delves into issues concerning women and how they are treated in general in his world with allusions to other works of fantasy as well. The story keeps a good pace, once you read past the first few chapters, and the characters develop quickly. We have the antagonist, a sorcerer who has dealings with demons, two sisters who seem to be evil but may in fact prove to be something more, and a crossing of paths with our two heroes.
Paul’s winged creatures and demons are unique, colourfully described, his world building is imaginative and the storyline reads in a believable manner and at no point is the reader jarred out of the story. I particularly enjoyed the moral issues towards the end. If I were to split the novel into five parts, the first part was an uphill climb until I got to understand the characters and the world and why they were doing what they did, the next three parts were engaging enough to keep me going with moments of tension and also moments which had me chuckling at Nix’s wit and humour, and the final part was gripping and expanded into issues concerning women and the way men treat them in general, so that was interesting.
For those of you who enjoy a ‘light’ read and a bit of wit in their novels, why not give Paul Kemp a try? Something worthy of note here: Paul Kemp has also written Star Wars novels: just thought you Star Wars fans might like to know this…