Tuesday, 14 February 2017

For a Few Gold Pieces More by Richard C. White

[Review as also seen on Amazon .ca and .com]
(Full disclosure: I received an e-version of this book from the author in advance for promotional and review purposes.)

Richard C. White... Hmmm, well, let's start with the most important part of this review: The flaws in his story. It'll be a small list, so don't worry about being bogged down in negativity, but I think each of the following is worthy of note and mention, and would certainly effect MY choice of whether or not to buy this anthology.

Problem, the First: This is not a "novel". It's a collection of short, individual stories that are interconnected, but ultimately not a cohesive, continuous whole in spite of their overarching story-arcs. If you think of it like a chapter book where each short story is simply a rather long chapter in a larger tale being told, then you're doing it and yourself an injustice. It's not, they're not. This is NOT a novel, and that was a stumbling block for me.

I do not recommend bingeing the short stories, as that certainly takes some of their weight and worth away in the flood of words. Read them one at a time to properly appreciate each, and then once you're done, you can fully appreciate the entirety of the anthology.

Problem, the Second: Each short story leaves you wanting more by the end of it, but once it's done, that's all she (well, "he", technically) wrote. If you wanted more from the characters in a short story, too bad, most of them are not reoccurring, and the ones that are aren't my favourites. In a way, this makes what little we DO get of each story more valuable for its scarcity, but in another way: I. Want. Moar!

Problem, the Third (and final): I have no means of visualising the world in which this entire anthology is set! I don't know if the author even has a map of his world, or if he just didn't include it in the review copy for some reason or other, but I want a MAP! Seriously, the world of this anthology seems fascinating, and a map that did it justice, well, it'd be A+mazing!

And that's everything I could find wrong with "For a Few Gold Pieces More" by Richard C. White. Told ya the list would be short. Now for the GOOD things!

The tropes! Oh. My. Gawd! The tropes are strong with this one, and Mr. White does such a good job making each of them believable and refreshingly pleasant to read, with his own unique takes on each. The "Nameless Rogue" suits the main character and the stories perfectly. The "Magical but also Medieval (semi)-European World" is simply intriguing, something like the Roman Empire at its height, BUT with a whole world around it too, full of other cultures and peoples and interesting developments based upon the magic.

As for the magic itself, it's a smooth, simple take on D&D magic, with no glaring faults or annoying inconsistencies. It's also convenient that the Nameless Rogue happens to know jack-diddily about magic from the get-go, and that doesn't change throughout.

Now for the characters. Both those who appear more than once, and those who do not, all are captivating! I particularly enjoyed the fellow thieves in the earlier tales, and how the Nameless Rogue interacted with them. I would like to see some of the more mythical characters featured in this anthology, I shan't spoil which, be featured in future installments of this lovely (well, kinda horrible, but certainly interesting!) world.

I especially liked how each short story was a tribute to a myth or legend from our world, taken into Mr. White's and made his own. I also liked how the Nameless Rogue was competent and capable without being much of a Mary Sue. He knew what he was doing, and even when he was out of his depth, he wasn't a useless wastrel who needed instructions on how to save himself. He got shit DONE! And there were no unnecessary training montages like we've all seen a thousand times in these sorts of books. None.

Mr. White has snared a repeat-reader in me!

Richard C. White's links:

-Twitter: @Nightwolfwriter
-Website: richardcwhite.com