Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Strange Fortune by Josh Lanyon

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
ISBN 978-1-935560-00-5

Valentine Strange is delighted to accept a job from the Holy Order to find and retrieve an antique diadem of the Goddess Purya from somewhere in the distant White Mountains. Although the mountains are filled with bandits and scoundrels, this soldier of fortune has little fear of anything short of not being paid for his services. But when the Holy Order insists that Master Aleister Grimshaw, a witch with a history of insanity, join the expedition, Strange realizes there is more at stake than the retrieval of a relic.

As the small band begins their search, Strange and Grimshaw forge a tenuous friendship. But they are followed, step by step, not only by bandits, but by a demonic power more powerful than anyone could imagine. When the stakes are raised well beyond the danger level and they are betrayed at every turn, they are forced to rely on each other for survival. Finding the diadem could spell doom for Strange and Grimshaw, or could it be their only hope of survival?

Strange Fortune is a rollicking good read – interesting characters, fast paced, rich descriptions, and action that kept me turning pages. It’s a fun read. Adventurous and romantic. Lanyon has created a wonderful world of magic and spirits and spells and romance. It is a winner.

I stumbled over a few issues that I felt kept this marvelous story from being a great one. A minor annoyance was it held a dozen more misspellings and missing words than I’m used to seeing. The book could certainly use a more careful copyeditor.

A more troublesome issue was the story’s time setting. Although the author clearly created a unique setting, the physical setting seems to be taken from early twentieth century India, yet the customs and beliefs of the characters seems to indicate ancient times, when Holy Orders ruled, witches were common and people worshiped demons. For me, it seemed to disconnect. One minute they were worshiping idols, the next Grimshaw was checking the time on his wrist-watch or firing his rife. And the language the characters often used – such as “the bottom line is” – is really quite modern. I just kept getting the impression, that if the author had paid closer attention to keep the language and the physical setting in ancient times (bows and arrows instead of rifles) this would have been a great read, rather than a very good read.

Still, my few minor issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and highly recommend it to everyone.


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