My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“There is a monster for each of us to face. Some we conquer; some we flee; some we negotiate with; some we suffer; some we… become.” editor Jason M. Waltz.So opens Jason M. Waltz's introduction to Rage of the Behemoth--it is appropriate to quote it in this review of Vengeance is My Lord's: Tales of Direk, Lord of Vengeance for two reasons: (1) the hero Direk is tasked with serving the King and is granted magical/god-like powers to deliver vengeance; each instance he calls upon his shadow powers to perform a killing he is consumed a little bit more, and transforms from a human into a monster; (2) Jason Waltz is transforming himself too, in a great way, from editor to author, so noting his past achievements and trajectory in heroic fiction is a must.
Under the banner of Rogue Blade Entertainment, Jason edited the above mentioned Rage of the Behemoth which was a superb thematic anthology following the landmark 2008 Return of the Sword (a must read for heroic fiction fans). Demons: A Clash of Steel Anthology was a fair third in the series. Jason Waltz then delivered his first nonfiction collection Writing Fantasy Heroes, with insights from a panel of notable authors (Orson Scott Card, Brian Sanderson, Steve Erikson, Glen Cook, Janet & Chris Morris, Ian Esslemont, Paul Kearney, Howard Andrew Jones...etc.). In all these books, he always provided awesome introductions which were as compelling as any of the stories.
With Vengeance is My Lord's: Tales of Direk, Lord of Vengeance, he introduces us to his own dark hero. In addition to being cursed/empowered by dark powers, he also carries a sword named Retribution. There are other swords in existence i.e., Justice which are bound to the avatar wielding it. It's a simple but awesome premise delivered excellently.
Any criticism of this would be that it is very short, just two stories...one of which has been published already ("As Retribution Falls, so too Truth" which had appeared in Tales of the Black Arts: A Sword and Sorcery Anthology, and "Collecting Vengeance". That said, it was very affordable and marks the beginning of what promises to be an awesome series (note that the book is labelled Volume 1). I am anxious to learn more of Direk's plight, why he became a servant of the Kind Wincuff and the gods Otuus & Ez-Wrayal... and what will become of his as he transforms completely into a demon. Jason Waltz is dedicated to the Sword & Sorcery / Heroic Fiction genre, and witnessing the birth of his inner-monsters is a pleasure.
The artist of the cover is noteworthy. Didier Normand provided coverart and interior illustrations for Rage of the Behemoth and has established relationship with Rogue Blade authors such as Jason Thummel to provide cover art.
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