Showing posts with label Gramlich. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gramlich. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Unsheathed - review by SE


Unsheathed: An Epic Fantasy Collection
by Stuart Thaman
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unsheathed: An Epic Fantasy Collection is high quality Sword & Sorcery by nine contemporary authors. The anthology is varied in tone and style, and will delight new fans (who may like lit-RPG fare) as well as aged veterans looking for weird pulp. I picked this up as part of a S&S Groupread on Goodreads which had the theme of "New vs 'N'" (N being the infamous Appendix N list from Gary Gygax.

All were fun, but two of these resonated with me. The first was by Charles Allen Gramlich, whose writing lured me to this collection (having read his Harvest of War and Bitter Steel: Tales and Poems of Epic Fantasy and others). The second was by Jay Erickson whose Lydia/Gwendolyn Locke stood out in design & delivery.

Contents
1. Hanging at Crosbhothar Austin Worley: “Corpses hung from the ancient maple like leaves” is a great opener. The story follows the female Arlise, Watcher of the Order, who trails the corrupted Eoghan and his sorceress lover Katrin. A few abrupt saved-by-the-last-minute incidents and rpg-rapid-healing keeps this decent tale from a 5-star.

2. Retribution by Night Chad Vincent: This 4-star tale introduces Captain Brennan who is caught in an outpost drama between the oppressed, local named Aodhan ( a nature lover, and demon lover too?) who is hounded by surly knights, like Sergeant Armstrong. Not sure who to root for in this gray tale, though Brennan is ostensibly on the knights side. Nice undead battles here. Would have enjoyed experiencing Aodhan's past to appreciate his motivations.

3. Where All the Souls are Hollow by Charles Allen Gramlich: a 5 star Sword-n-Planet with the technology being more implicit than explicit. We join Krieg (German for "War") as his adventures mid-mission. Krieg’s purpose is slowly revealed as he battles automatons, sinister alien forces, and evil "children." A beautiful blend of horror and adventure; pacing is spot on.

4. Switch Blade by Scott Simerlein: I am not into humorous stories, but this hilarious farce was well placed in the collection. It was slightly confusing, but was meant to be. 4 star.

5. King’s Road by G. Dean Manuel: This melodrama unfolds faster than the characters can deliver their lines; it felt like a fan fiction tribute of LOTR's Rohan Gondor play between a prince-son usurping his worn-king-father’s rule. 3 star

6. The Artefact by Ross Baxter: lit-RPG readers would like this one. Three heroes with desires to collect as many types of loot (books/knowledge, a weapon, and something mechanical/crafty like a timepiece) adventure in ruins. It feels like part of larger universe, but for a short story the story arc was not contained enough to be a clear stand alone adventure. The character Jud stood out. 3+ star.

7. Under Locke and Key by Jay Erickson: a 5 star tale with female leads and blood magic. Gwendolyne is an enslaved adolescent girl, whose parents died by the Red Tears plague. The same sickness affects the countryside and criminals wishing to profit off of orphaned girls and a possible cure. The flow of the tale was very smooth and engaging.

8. Ransom for a Prince by Liam Hogan: this is saturated with fighting, and was more real/historical than fantasy. Expect lots of medieval duels with a female lead. The premise is a reason for the author to show off the art of sword play, which is described well. 4+.

9. Only an Elf by Stuart Thaman : There is a lot going on here in this 4-star tale of slavery. Overall the plot is very engaging, but the bloody climax seemed inconsistent with the lead up. Certain scenes between the female elf slave Enessana and her master, the blacksmith dwarf Kimiko, worked separately, but did not flow with other events. Perhaps too much was packed within a short span of pages, throwing the pacing off. This would expand into a great novel.

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Charles Allen Gramlich & SE Lindberg - The Beautiful and Repellent

Charles Gramlich the Beautiful (left) and S.E. Lindberg the Repellent (right)

A family vacation to New Orleans brought me in close proximity to two authors: Charles Gramlich (whose works I have reviewed, see links below) and Beth Patterson (fellow Perseid Press "Hellion" and "Heroikan.").

This post captures the Charles & S.E. selfie, the red corona/halo blessing the former. He has been writing adventure fiction for decades, and aims to publish in "every" genre. A sequel to Heroika #1: Dragon Eaters has been incubating for few years (#2 focused on Shieldless/Skirmishers), and if the gods are with us we both will have a contribution.

We discussed everything from  (a) Evolutionary Psychology which he teaches at Xavier University, to (b) GRR Martin's short story "The Sandkings" which inspired the first episode in the The Outer Limits in 1995 (I still have the VHS of that! eh gad, who would imagine that a weird-horror about ants would attract me?), to (c) Beauty in Weird Fiction (Yes, my favorite topic which I interview others on -link), since he recently published an article in WEIRD FICTION REVIEW #7 called "The Beautiful and the Repellent: The Erotic Allure of Death and the Other in the Writers of Weird Tales”. I just ordered my paperback copy, and after I read it... I'll be reconnecting with Charles to see if I can lure him into an interview.

Check out his Razored Zen blog: http://charlesgramlich.blogspot.com/.
__________________________

Links to SE Reviews of Charles Gramlich works:


Swords of Talera: Book One of the Talera CycleMage Maze DemonImage result for bitter steel gramlich amazonHarvest of War by [Gramlich, Charles]

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Skelos Delivers Weird Fiction & Dark Fantasy - Fiction, Essays, Art, and Reviews

Skelos (The Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy 1)Skelos by Mark Finn
S.E. rating: 5 of 5 stars

Skelos was an ambitious 2016 Kickstarter project. Successfully funded, it aims to be an outlet for literary essays, short stories, poem, novelettes, and reviews for Dark Fiction/Weird Fantasy. As a backer, I am very pleased. Somehow, it delivered all this in its first issue and a low price. Just ~12USD for the print version. In short, it is a highly recommend periodical to subscribe.

This reviews their first issue (Summer 2016 edition, Kickstarter funding seems to guarantee at least four issues). I thought I was well versed in Sword & Sorcery and Pulp/Weird Fiction but still learned more by Robert E. Howard and Arthur Machen. I discovered new authors too. In a collection so broad, not all the contents will please everyone…the menu is just too big. The quality is good, and anyone interested in dark fantasy will be pleased. There are lot of nice touches here, including cover art by Gustav Dore’, tons of interior art, and photographs of REH's drafts. There is no common theme, but this issue leans toward 'Vikings & Plagues.' My specific comments per contribution are detailed below.

Skelos is edited by Mark Finn, author of the World Fantasy Award-nominated Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard; Chris Gruber, editor of Robert E. Howard's Boxing Stories from the University of Nebraska Press; and Jeffrey Shanks, co-editor of the Bram Stoker Award-nominated The Unique Legacy of Weird Tales: The Evolution of Modern Fantasy and Horror. They are leading Skelos Press.

Short Fiction:
‘The Dead Unicorn’ –Scott Cupp (It is depressing as its title suggests)
‘Hungry –Charles Gramlich’ (A groaner sci-fi; it may be the only contribution that infused some sort of comedy, except for the single-frame cartoon ‘By Crom’. Also, it is one of the few to have a modern milieu)
‘The Night Maere’ –Scott Hannan (Classic horror in which your sickness may take a life of its own!)
‘The Nameless Tribe Drafts’ –Robert E. Howard (Included to complement an essay; very nice touch)
‘The Yellow Death’ –David Hardy (A plague doctor experiences lots of death)
‘The Burning Messenger’ –Matt Sullivan (Two Viking-esque tribes are pitted against one another…or something more cosmically evil; this started out with too many trope’s to promise much, but turned into a wonderfully dark tale)
‘Dangerous Pearl’ –Ethan Nahté (An average pirate/Lovecraftian adventure with a satisfying denouement)

Novelettes:
‘The Drowned Dead Shape’ –Keith Taylor (This is an engaging zombie-Viking tale; it was so good, I stopped reading Skelos, tracked down Taylor’s Servant of the Jackal God: The Tales of Kamose, Archpriest of Anubis…devoured that….then came back to Skelos)
‘One Less Hand for the Shaping of Things’ –Jason Ray Carney (A Fairy Tale /Weird Romance; this had its moments; the title seemed misrepresentative; I didn’t think I liked it until I reached the ending and realized I was more attached to the characters than I realized)

Poetry:
(I enjoyed having the poetry interspersed; they are short and digestible, and their presence reinforces the literary history/approach to weird fiction.)

Diary of a Sorceress –Ashley Dioses
Midnight in the Ebon Rose Bower –K. A. Opperman
The Writer –Jason Hardy
The Casualty of the Somme –Frank Coffman
Totem –Pat Calhoun
Surtur –Kenneth Bykerk

Essays:
‘Nameless Tribes: Robert E. Howard’s Anthropological World-Building in “Men of the Shadows”’ –Jeffrey Shank (This details REH’s evolution of his Hyborian Age, with his Drafts complementing the essay; I didn't know REH factored in the infamous continent Lemuria and California into his world)

‘From the Cosmos to the Test-Tube: Lovecraft, Machen, and the Sublime’ – Karen Joan Kohoutek (Loved this, in part because I am fascinated in how serious Weird Fiction writers [i.e. Edgar Allen Poe, RE Howard, Poe, Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft] took their craft serious and often philosophized on the “Art’ in Horror. I missed Arthur Machen’s Hieroglyphics book in my hobbyist studies and will be getting that).

‘A Sword-Edge Beauty as Keen as Blades: C.Moore and the Gender Dynamics of Sword and Sorcery’ –Nicole Emmelhainz (this had potential, but could have been even more provocative, the premise being that the Sword & Sorcery genre….often stereotyped correctly as misogynistic… has some feministic qualities; strangely, the essay focuses on C.L. Moore’s female Jirel of Joiry story in The Black God’s Kiss but somehow glosses over that C. stood for “Catherine”…yes a woman writer who had to use a pseudonym to get published, or work with her husband writer Henry Kuttner who could use expose his first name. I’m not sure how the author’s gender was left out of this essay; perhaps it was done on purpose, otherwise it would not be surprising that a woman may decide to represent other woman as strong. The only indication that a reader may know Catherine’s gender is by reading the endnote reference.)

Special Features:
'Skull Session I' –Editorial by Mark Finn (This sets the stage for Skelos’s approach to provided deep and broad based weird fiction)

'Grettir and the Draugr' –An illustrated tale by Samuel Dillon and Jeffrey Shanks (Wow, they squeezed in a mini-graphic novel; the artwork by Dillon outshined the story here, which was okay.)

'By Crom!' –Rachel Kahn (A single frame cartoon)

Reviews too!
How better to reinforce Weird Fiction’s longevity than to review contemporary works? There are ~8 books reviewed depth. Despite the review’s average rating, I was unaware of Swords Against Cthulhu’s publication and will likely track this one down.




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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Mage Maze Demon - short, pulpy, sword and sorcery

Mage Maze DemonMage Maze Demon by Charles Allen Gramlich
SE. rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mage Maze Demon by Charles Allen Gramlich is published by “BEAT to a PULP”. It is a short story that delivers the uber-fast adventure pulp fiction readers expect. For the unfamiliar, "the pulps" were inexpensive magazines published ~1920’s that gave birth to Weird Fiction, Sword & Sorcery, Lost World stories; a time when fantasy, sci-fi, and horror were blended together. This one is Sword & Sorcery fare. As in Harvest of War, Gramlich writes concise poetic fiction. The title is a good summary of what Bryle the barbarian has conflict with. Although a short story adhering to pulp roots, I would have enjoyed the story even more if it were about twice it length. I was ready for more, and I suspect Gramlich has more ready for us.

Here is the opening to convey Gramlich’s style:
“The most vicious of all predators hunts in the forest. The barbarian flees. His name is Bryle. He dodges standing trees, leaps fallen logs, bulls past thorns and briars. A trio of gray wolves runs as well. They swiftly pull ahead. Bryle picks up the pace, though dares not run himself to exhaustion—as the wolves are doing. The wolves will tire; the thing that hunts them all will not.
…. It is fire that hunts. The forest roils with flames. Tendrils of crimson and orange whirl between the trees like the churning legs of a giant. Sap explodes into a shrapnel of embers, lashing Bryle now to the greatest effort he can muster. Sweat slimes him. His chest heaves. He passes a wolf from earlier. It staggers, bloody froth at its muzzle. Its heart must be near rupturing. Nothing can be done.”

Charles Allen Gramlich is the author of the Talera fantasy trilogy, the thriller Cold in the Light, and the SF novel Under the Ember Star. His stories have been collected primarily in three anthologies, Bitter Steel, (fantasy), Midnight in Rosary (Vampires/Werewolves), and In the Language of Scorpions (Horror). He is also the author of Write With Fire, a book about writing and publishing. His works are available in print and ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Wildside Press. Additionally, some of Charles's stories are available in novella length packets or as standalone ebooks from Amazon. These include Killing Trail (Westerns), Harmland (Noir/Horror), MicroWeird (Flash Fiction), and Harvest of War (Fantasy).


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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Gramlich's Swords of Talera - Review by SE

Swords of Talera: Book One of the Talera CycleSwords of Talera: Book One of the Talera Cycle by Charles Allen Gramlich
S.E. rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun “Sword & Planet” adventure. Get svelte, escape to Talera.

I first discovered Charles Allen Gramlich via his poetic Sword & Sorcery books (highly recommended): Bitter Steel: Tales and Poems of Epic Fantasy and Harvest of War. Being biased toward weird adventure on “earth,” I was inspired to branch out slightly because of the Goodreads Sword & Sorcery Group's groupread for May-June 2014, the theme being “Sword & Planet.” Being a fan of Gramlich, this was a prime time to try out his Talera Cycle. If you ask the author why he should read it, he’ll reveal his humorous side (taken from his Facebook page):
"Dr. Charles Gramlich, professor of psychology at a prominent New Orleans University, has made the extraordinary claim that reading the three books of the Talera fantasy series, Swords of Talera, Wings Over Talera, and Witch of Talera, will actually help you lose weight and maintain a svelte figure. Gramlich says that, “those who read the slender volumes of the Talera series, which are quick and exciting stories, develop a speedier metabolism, allowing them to burn calories more quickly. This effect lingers for weeks after the books are finished,” he adds, “and can easily be prolonged further by consuming another book by the same author.” When asked whether that author, Charles ‘Allen’ Gramlich, was any relation, Dr. Gramlich abruptly yelled “Fire” and left the room."
Even though Swords of Talera: Book One of the Talera Cycle is not explicitly comedic, it does present pulp adventure with a dose of old-school “cheese” sprinkled atop weird milieu and tons of melee. It is a homeage the Sword & Planet subgenre initiated by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 1900’s with John Carter, and has all the tropes fans of the subgenre would demand: a man from the early 1900’s gets transported from earth to a strange planet; he can occasionally revisit earth; he manages to quickly converse with many aliens, lead armies, and free a maiden in distress.

Gramlich’s “Carter” is a 1914 sea merchant captain named Ruenn Maclang, whose arrogance and decisive leadership will remind readers of Indiana Jones. He gets transported to Talera mysteriously along with his crew, though he gets separated and strives to find his fellow earthlings. He is met by many humanoid aliens embroiled in slave-trade and war. Maclang becomes infatuated with a maiden in distress, and shallow-romantic interactions with her are intermittent. A sidebar on the technological history behind the mysterious Planet/Land Talera was distinctly cheezy sci-fi, but was not explored in depth in this first installment. There are continuous combat scenes, adequately fulfilling the “Sword” requirement for “Swords & Planet.” What I enjoyed most about this adventure was Gramlich’s poetic side, that creeps into every chapter. Check out these Excerpts:

Beautiful Battles
"…Heril leaped forward, swinging an axe over his head. The beast commander caught the stroke on his shield but the blow drove him to his knees. He surged up, hurling Heril back, and lashed out with his own axe. I watched Heril leap away and then saw no more of them as the beach exploded into motion.

War cries tore the sky. Steel whistled through air and rang on steel, or thunked into soft flesh. Men screamed with the impact and went down hard. Blood clotted the sand and stained the bright swords with ugliness.

Numbers were on our side and our first charge carried the Klar back. They recovered and held. Bodies piled up. Men stumbled over the dead and few who went down were given the chance to rise again. Axes and swords lifted and fell, came away drawing screams or soft sighs of death. Our enemies were cold and disciplined, but so too were Jedik’s men, and the slaves were hot with anger. It was that passion which finally broke the Klar line. But we paid for it in blood."

Weird Ambience
“A bass throbbing rose and fell with each pulse of emerald light, and over the vibration lay the screams of my men, crawling up the scale until their voices teetered on the edge of soundlessness. Then the screams were gone and the cold, verdant fire went with them.”

“The thing’s body was human-like but it was not a man. Its flesh gleamed an iridescent green and gold; scales covered it like armor. A broad, thick tail stretched away into the gray fog behind it. The creature’s face was an abomination, calling up visions of fallen angels burning centuries in hell. The eyes shone flat and stone blue, without whites. Two slits gashed the face where the nose should have been and the mouth below glistened wide and red, lined with yellowed fangs. Large vanes, like the wings of bats, extended from either side of the beast’s head, fluttering with each harsh breath it drew.”

“The lorn wind blew about the volcanic peak, playing dirges in the empty lava funnels. Both beauty and pain lived in that wind, and the drifting ghosts of ancient memories.”
Testimonial: I lost 3 pounds in just one week reading Swords of Talera! To stay with my weight maintenance program, I’ll continue with Wings Over Talera:Book Two of the Talera Cycle, and Witch of Talera.


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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bitter Steel, Sword and Sorcery by Gramlich - Review by S.E.

Bitter Steel: Tales And Poems Of Epic Fantasy by Charles Allen Gramlich
S.E. Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

An anthology of dark adventure; highly recommended.

Epic Content: Sub-genre purists would clarify that the inclusion of “Epic” in the title inappropriately evokes long-winded, 2000page fantasy sagas; this anthology does feature 20 items of epic qualities, but these are discontinuous, compact doses of horror adventure (weird, pulp fiction). Most poems and tales were published previously. A table below sorts the order of presentation vs. publication and serves as a tour-guide for adventurous readers. The contents are organized well if you decide to tackle this linearly; a timely intermission of three humorous tales appears two-thirds the way through. After that, a few more doses of dark Sword & Sorcery leads into the final poem, an appropriate, haunting dedication to Robert E. Howard.

Author: Charles Allen Gramlich is a college professor of psychology (also teaching “writing for psychologists”); he extends his passion for teaching writing into the speculative fiction arena too (i.e. see Write with Fire: Thoughts on the Craft of Writing). He is also a scholar of the Sword & Sorcery genre, having been a member of REHupa (Robert E. Howard United Press Association). Personal annotations transition many of the tales/poems in Bitter Steel. These almost recast the anthology as a bibliography/teaching-text for future authors. As an example: the theme of lost fathers and sons is persistent throughout, and Gramlich confesses in his tour-like annotations that this stems from his losing his father as a teenager.

Emotive Style: The author’s psychology expertise enables him to his infuse his prose with emotive flare. This sometimes manifests in characterization, but more often affects his poetic tone (best represented by excerpts, like the ones below). Although he claims to have been inspired primarily by Howard and Wagner, he appears influenced by Clark Ashton Smith too. I was first introduced to Gramlich via his short story Harvest of War (highly recommended), which shares the style here: poetic cadence, with dark content, a fast read despite its depth.

In this collection, protagonists range from barbarian warriors, to anti-hero kings, to pathetic necromancers. Side characters are far from being shallow, many being deformed or mutilated with plenty of their own motivations. The Thal Kyrin yarn (6 tales) is a highlight. Thal adventures on Thanos, a version of Earth long after an alien race colonized it. No worries fantasy fans, this is not sci-fi. The foundation is obscure and mysterious, reminiscent of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Here are some examples:

Undertones of Cosmic Horror
Cloudy tears of darkness began to pour from the eyeless face of the moon, and the normal white light of that orb began to shimmer and alter, from pearl, to gray, to bloody red. And when it was all red, the color poured out into the surrounding clouds, igniting crimson lightning that cracked wide the night. The people in the tiers, the shades of Karillon, gasped and fell to their knees, hiding their faces as their God began to materialize out of the storm. Wings unfolded from tattered cumulus streamers; eyes blinked open with thunder. In another moment, bladed talons extended beneath the mass and the shape of a giant raptor was born.
Poetic, Grim Prose:
In the bitter twilight of frost-rimmed peaks, Thal dreamed, the visions crimson with gore. War-horses frothed at their bits, eyes rolling like bloody pearls. Men in bruised armor and torn silks of umber and white hacked each other into ragged scarecrows. Arrows sleeted the sky like sharpened flakes of ice. When it was over the ravens gathered, scarcely moving as Thal rode among them searching. He found [spoiler]’s head on a stake.
A Whisper From a Muse: More Thal?
Many know that REH was inspired to write Conan as if the barbarian was literary standing behind him, encouraging him to chronicle his tales. Gramlich was similarly inspired by the muse of Thal Kyrin. He does not apologize for discontinuities between the tales, but instead employs his annotations to spur our imaginations. Bitter Steel was released in 2010, and readers have yet to see more Thal in print. However, just this year (2013) Gramlich published "A Whisper in Ashes" (on Heroic Fantasy Quarterly e-zine) another accessible, poetic adventure inspired by Wager and Howard. Personally…I suspect the nameless warrior Krieg from Whisper in Ashes is actually Thal wandering, chasing ghosts and abandoned pyres. In any event, Bitter Steel is a great anthology.

Table of Contents:

Item Title Category First Published
1 “Recompense Reprise” Poem Niteblade, 2008
2 “A Gathering of Ravens” Standalone Tale: female lead Deep South Writers Conference: The Chapbook, 1991
3 “The Horns of the Air” Poem Deep South Writers Conference: The Chapbook, 1990
4 “Of Sake and Swords” Prose Poem Warrior Poets, 1997
5 “You Were There” Poem Bitter Steel, 2010
6 “Dark Wind” Thal Kyrin -1 Welcome to Suburbia, 2007.
7 “In the Memory of Ruins” Thal Kyrin -2 Shadow Sword, 1996.
8 “Wine and Swords” Thal Kyrin -3 Shadow Sword, 1997.
9 “Coin and Steel” Thal Kyrin -4 Bitter Steel, 2010
10 The Evening Rider Thal Kyrin -5 Shadow Sword, 1995.
11 “Sword of Dreams” Thal Kyrin -6 Fantastic Realms, 1992
12 “Smoke in the Blood” Poem Warrior Poets, 1997.
13 “Worms in the Earth: Barbarian’s Bane” Humorous Adventure Dragonlaugh, 2001
14 “Mirthgar” Humorous Adventure Strange Worlds of Lunacy, 2008
15 “Slugger’s Holiday” Humorous Adventure Beacons of Tomorrow, 2006.
16 “Luck and Swords” Standalone Tale Classic Pulp Fiction Stories, 1999.
17 “Sundered Man” Standalone Tale  Bitter Steel, 2010
18 “A Flock of Swords” Standalone Tale Warrior Poets, 2000
19 “In Cold Desert Light” Poem The Barsoom Poet’s Corner, 1997.
20 “Cross Plains Conjure Man” Poem Star*Line, 2001



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Friday, January 4, 2013

Harvest of War - Short Story Review


Harvest of War
by Charles Allen Gramlich
S.E. Linderg's rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Victory rewards the most brutal”. But in a war fought between Orcs, Humans, and the monsters known as the Reapers, who best deserves that title? And will any of them fight for the weak? Or are the weak just prey? Back cover Summary

Context: This is a short story, originally scheduled for an anthology in ~2011 that never made it to market, and has thankfully been made available as a stand-alone tale. An underlying motivation of the anthology was to show Orcs as more complex characters than presented by Tolkien. Gramlich delivers this.

Brutal, Poetic Style: Amongst the heaps of eBooks available, the above premise alone does not make this stand out. However, deliver it with Gramlich’s style and you find yourself with a true treasure. Harvest of War will appeal to both casual and literary readers because Gramlich’s economy of words is so smooth it belies its rich imagery and emotional depth. His prose is: Arresting. Vivid. Compelling. Here is a glimpse:
Across a snowfield that lies red with dawn, the Orc charge comes. And is met. Axes shriek on shields. Swords work against armor into flesh. The tips of spears are wetted. Gore dapples the snow...
..Others are surrounded by clots of human foes and hacked down in an orgy of hatred. At last, only one Orc stands, dark axe blooded in his fists. A lightning-rent oak wards his back so his enemies can come against him only a warrior at a time. His axe splits a helm; his knotted fist tears a man’s jaw away. A shout makes the rest of his foes pause and draw apart.
Only one brief instance gave me pause: a character not accustomed to speaking strangely has a burst of dialogue; this contrasted the efficiency presented throughout, but was merely a surmountable hurdle in an enjoyable 400meter sprint. I highly recommend this.

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