When I had heard that Larry Correia had written a fantasy novel, I took notice. The only fiction of his that I had read was “The Great Sea Beast” in Kaiju Rising. His story really stuck out in comparison to the rest of the stories in that anthology.
This past summer, I read “The Keeper of Names” in Shattered Shields. By that time, the hardback of Son of the Black Sword had been out since October 2015 and the mass market paperback was about to be published.
In October, I was in the local Barnes & Noble store when I was offered a $25.00 gift card if I signed up for a B&N credit card. All you have to do is use the credit card once and you get the gift card. So I picked up a book of what if scenarios in the remaindered section for my credit card purchase and a few weeks later the gift card arrived.
Correia’s Son of the Black Sword was one of my purchases. The book is listed as part of “Saga of the Forgotten Warrior.” At Correia’s blog, the two future volumes are entitled: House Assassin and Destroyer of Worlds.
Son of the Black Sword is published by Baen Books, $8.99, 532 pages, cover by Larry Elmore. There is a map of the world of Saga of the Forgotten Warrior.
I had read an excerpted chapter as story in Shattered Shields (“The Keeper of Names”). This story is a flashback chapter in the second half of the book a character from the story/chapter has met up with Ashok Vadal, the main character of the novel.
Style wise, Son of the Black Sword is somewhere between sword and sorcery and epic fantasy. The world is a small continent called Lok, divided into somewhat feudal rule by “Houses.” There is a capital in the desert. The culture is modeled on India. There is a caste system and at least some of the names are Indian (“Ashok” for example).
The story starts out running with an attack by two “demons.” There is a military order called the Protectors who put down rebellions, enforce “The Law,” and battle demons. The demons arrived hundreds of years ago “falling from the sky” and rampaging. A hero is sent in a metal ship to defeat them or rather the demons are driven into the ocean. The ocean is hell in this world. No one can go into the ocean without being eaten by the demons.
There is a mention of two moons in the sky so that with other clues, this novel could be classified as a sword and planet novel.
There are black swords that contain memories of past users. Also, each house has a black blade that chooses who gets to use it.
Ashok the Protector has been a member of the order for 20 years which is the enlistment time. In a series of flashback chapters, the story is revealed how he is chosen by the sword at age five. The problem is he was given a fabricated background and he goes crazy when he finds out the truth.
There is a lot of skullduggery going on in the novel with the Inquisitor Order up to no good, a rebellion of the casteless taking place, forbidden magic, and a group of assassins to name a few.
There is plenty of swordplay and action in the novel. Correia has some likeable and memorable characters. Ashok is something of an enigma as of yet, though things are slowly revealed in the novel and the character is changing.
I do have to say that I have a tougher time with novels that go beyond 300 pages. That is most of them for the past 26 or so years. I am hoping now that Correia has the background done, that the next novels will be a little shorter.
Song of the Black Sword has won the Dragon Award and Rampant Manticore Award. It has been a finalist for the Audie, AML, CLFA, H Beam Piper Memorial, and Gemmell Legend.
I don’t read much written after 1985. I will say that in my opinion this is the most important series since Paul Kearney’s Monarchies of God series. The first book in that series is 20 years old now.
One of the things I liked about this novel is it really is not imitative of anything I am aware of. There might be a little Michael Moorcock with the supernatural black blades but none of Moorcock’s b.s.
Right now I am giving Son of the Black Sword a 3.5 out of 5 harmonic chromosome rating. It might rise to 4 out of 5 once I read books two and three. Reading this book made me think of giving Ashok K. Banker’s retelling of the Indian Ramayana epics a try. Aspect Warner did publish the first two books in the series in the U.S. Banker said he was a Robert E. Howard fan and that intrigues me. India certainly had some wild weapons in its history.