Friday, 10 October 2008

‘Vault of Deeds’ – James Barclay (PS Publishing)


As a rule, me and PDF files don’t get along so well in terms of reading books. As I spend most of the day looking at a computer screen for work it’s generally the last thing I want to when I get home. I’m also one of those old fashioned types who prefer to actually hold a proper book in their hands while they’re reading... ;o) When it’s James Barclay who’s written the book though then I find myself having to change my thinking! (It’s been a quite couple of days at work as well and it’s not as if anyone ever looks at what’s on the screen...)

James Barclay’s ‘Raven’ books are brilliant ‘fantasy meets the Magnificent Seven’ adventures and I’m waiting eagerly to see how he brings the gang back together in ‘Ravensoul’. In the meantime, I got to read ‘Vault of Deeds’ and very good it is too...

In a land that prides itself on the quality of its heroes the sudden resurgence of form in the champions of Evil is proving a real cause for concern. With dead heroes littering the land, and an invasion looking more and more likely, people are starting to wonder if the forces of Evil have a little insider knowledge... The answers lie in the very school that sends heroes out to battle Evil, Grincheux the Scribe finds himself (and his gangly trainee hero) not only holding all the answers but also being the only person who can do anything about it... This isn’t how he planned to spend his day but it looks like he’s going to get his head ripped off either way so he may as well do the right thing...

‘Vault of Deeds’ is only ninety two pages long (and because of the price maybe only one for fans and collectors) but is a good reminder of it being quality that counts, not quantity. This is a tightly written story with a definite ending and no loose ends, what you get until that ending is a mixture of humour and pathos that’s wrapped up in a plot that’s a little predictable (I saw it coming but then I think you’re meant to see it coming) but good fun all the same.

It’s the humour that really made this one for me. Barclay looks like he’s having so much fun, not just with the dialogue but also with the situations and background that he gives the reader. If you’ve ever wondered what ‘HERO’ actually stood for then look no further than this book, it’s also worth a read just to see the demonic equivalent of hero school! There are shades of Terry Pratchett’s humour on display but when you get first hand experience of the ‘formal Elven language’ (which made me laugh) I found myself not minding too much. I’m also a big fan of the twist right at the end which completely caught me out!

You may know how it’s going to end, and you may have seen the humour before, but ‘Vault of Deeds’ is still a fun read that both fans of James Barclay, and everyone else, will enjoy. I certainly did and now I’m all the more eager for ‘Ravensoul’...

Eight and a Half out of Ten

2 comments:

Julia Scott-Douglas said...

Sounds like an awesome book. I'll have to check it out. :)

Mark Chitty said...

I loved this novella, it was exactly what I wanted without me realising. And I'm the same as you Greame, the elven formal language gave me a really big smile :)