The Weight of Blood by David Dalglish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Readers of David Dalglish should be drawn to label his novel, THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD (TWoB), as RPG fiction, or gamer's fiction. At least this reader will. And that's not a bad thing, in my opinion.
Early on, Dalglish's straightforward storytelling and his choice of main characters made me wonder if the author was a gamer. Harruq and Qurrah Tun are half-orc brothers (they soon find out the other half of their blood is elven rather than human) eking out a living in a humano-centric world, and the details of their plight, as well as how Dalglish treats his characters and the setting around them, took me back to a wonderful time in my life when I couldn't get enough Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms fantasy. For those not in the know, these were some of the first novels released by TSR (now Wizards of the Coast) in the mid to late '80s, the very first offerings that launched a major publishing house based on their Dungeons & Dragons worlds. I ended up contacting the author online while reading this book and wrote that TWoB is conjuring up memories of early Weis, Hickman, and R.A. Salvatore, to which Dalglish responded, "Ding, ding, ding!" So, I assume I nailed it.
I enjoy TWoB for what it is, a dark and gritty fantasy spent with races of the D&D sort -- Harruq as a fighter, Qurrah as a necromancer -- who are faced with some hard decisions. Actually, not so bad for Qurrah, the more oppressed of the two and, hence, the more ambitious, who obviously has a low empathy "stat" and doesn't hesitate to grab for power when it's offered to him, despite it meaning he must fully give in to his evil nature. Harruq is much less evil than his brother, obviously having more of the elven blood in his veins than the orcish, but goes along with Qurrah out of love for his twin (so, yes, I got some of the old Caramon and Raistlin Majere nostalgia here, and you Dragonlance fans will know what I mean).
I don't want to give away any spoilers, but you might imagine the direction Dalglish is taking this in, as we have the dark and selfish Qurrah, and then Harruq, who is much lighter in nature and can see more good in the world. Indeed, Harruq even manages to find love.
The author and I agreed on a book swap, so I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a signed copy of THE COST OF BETRAYAL, which is book II in "The Half-Orcs." I'll be sure to keep you updated right here when I finish this next installment.
Four stars (out of five). Quite recommended for fantasists in general, and highly recommended for gaming enthusiasts or those who like their fantasy served dark with no cream and very little sugar.
Some other books in David Dalglish's "The Half-Orcs":
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