Review: “Morningstar” by David Gemmell

MorningstarMorningstar by David Gemmell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is somewhat bittersweet for me. I love David Gemmell and I longed to enjoy one of the few of his work I haven’t read yet, but it proved to be a discordant note instead, almost unsettling.

Firstly, I must say it’s strange that it comes after Legend and Knights of Dark Renown: both are much better, in my opinion. This “feels” like a first novel, and a bit unpolished at that.

Then, he used first person POV, unlike all others that I’ve read. I think he’s much better at third person POV.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a Gemmell’s story. You have the archetypes you are used to with DG’s work: the large, good-natured, axe-wielding man (but without the wisdom and charisma of Druss); the excellent swordman, sly and antihero-ish (but in no way as deep as Skilgannon or Rek or even Groundsel!); the crone, very powerful (but Hewla is a much more interesting character, although on the other spectrum of the good-evil axis); the bard (but do we want to compare Owen to Sieben?!).

And also most of DG’s themes: redemption; the reality of heroism, courage, cowardice; the “banality of evil” of most men, and the extreme wickedness of a few that needs to be fought despite all odds; etc.

But the execution does not live up to DG’s standards. It felt wrong somehow, as if not written by him or not edited appropriately or if a much earlier, inexperienced work. I don’t know.

My only advice is: if you don’t know DG, DON’T START WITH THIS. Start with “Knights of Dark Renown”, or “Legend” or “Waylander”.

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Review: “Imago Mortis” by Samuel Marolla

Imago Mortis (ITA)Imago Mortis by Samuel Marolla

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Note: I actually read this book in italian, but it’s available in english too.

TLDR: A small book, can be read in a few hours – better if all at once, snorted up like the ashes Ghites is addicted to. Absolutely recommended even if you are new to the hard-boiled/noir genre, but don’t mind a little creepiness.

The first 2/3 of the book got me completely hooked up with its great pacing, the unbelievably vivid depiction of modern Milan and its underground “bestiary” – and with the basic premise of this work which I find very original. Although I have to admit I’m not a fan of the genre, so take that comment with a grain of salt.

The book lost some of that juice in last third, where it gives some weak, kind-of-sciency description of what Ghites thinks he’s doing and a non-supernatural scene which I found too unrealistic and stretched. I think the book would have gained from a bit more supernatural and a bit less tentative fake-science, but that’s me.

Despite this, I still enjoyed it to the end and couldn’t stop reading. I’m actually quite sad it’s a one-off. It’s a pity Acheron Books doesn’t like book series – I could see this being a creepy series of “detective” stories, and would surely buy them.

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