In Savage Lands by Jason E. Thummel
S.E.Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars
J. Thummel is a great storyteller. With “In Savage Lands” he invites you to be carried away. Trust his craft. Three words summarize this memorable short story collection:
Tour: Feeling the need to escape? Not looking for a 700page starter to an endless series? Then read this. Across these tales you will have many guides ready to take you away: veteran fighters willing to martyr themselves, nameless heroes with just causes, amoral fighters looking for revenge, naïve and overmatched victims, sentient swords, dragon hunters, and even those possessed by demons! And where will these characters take you? A splendid variety of locations (from deserts, high seas, mountains alien worlds, highland battlegrounds). Beyond the thrill of exploring these destinations, there is an additional level of suspense provided by the storytelling.
Mystery: Although these tales are best classified as heroic fantasy, “mystery” best describes the author’s style. Almost every tale has a delightful, believable plot twist or dose of irony; sometimes many are delivered overtly, via unexpected perspectives. If you read them sequentially, you will become acquainted with this style quickly; then you will enjoy another level of suspense, knowing that every tale has a unique spin waiting to be revealed...not knowing what it is.
Magical: Every story is laden with fantasy creatures, characters, and environments. From icy mountains to steampunk battlegrounds and savage jungles, prepare for anything. And the tone varies too: hopeful, gritty, horrific, and even humorous.
“Magical Mystery Tour” should evoke trippy memories of the 1967 Beatle Film & Album; unbeknownst to many in the U.S., Mystery Tours involve the attendees setting budget/timing constraints to go on a trip to an unidentified location; the thrill of the unknown and the promise of adventure awaits the travelers. With “In Savage Lands” J. Thummel delivers such an adventure in book form (less trippy and more organized for sure, but sodden with fantastical mystery).
The author’s “mystery” style influence is represented in his other fantasy (The Spear of Destiny and Cult of Death…Lance Chambers mysteries), and fuels these thirteen tales. Thorvald’s Tale and The Dreamer Wakes were the most horrific (and thus my favorite), but I marked 12 of the 13 as worth rereading… so really I need to highlight the entire table of contents (below). It is difficult to summarize each of these without introducing spoilers, so I just list the titles. Lastly, to quote Lennon/McCartney…“Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour…. The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away…”
Table of Contents:
1)A Stand in the Eye of the Needle (First appeared in Flashing Swords, Issue 10, Cyberwizard Productions, 2008)
3)The Spider's Web
4)The Dying Light of Day
5)Mortismagus First appeared in the anthology Magic and Mechanica, Ricasso Press, 2009
6)Nargal of Zagg
7)The Fortunes of War: A Tale of Vladius and Stongi
8)The Homecoming of Brother Antonitus9)The Devourer of the Shunned
10) Thorvold's Tale
11) The Gift of the Unspoken God
12) The Dreamer Wakes
13) Runner of the Hidden Ways First appeared in the anthology Rage of the Behemoth, Rogue Blades Entertainment, 2009
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