BOOK REVIEW: THE WIDE WORLD’S END / AUTHOR: JAMES ENGE / PUBLISHER: PYR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Famed for his loveable sword and sorcery series Morlock the Maker, writer James Enge has been filling in the early years of his beloved creation with the impressive A Tournament of Shadows trilogy. With The Wide World’s End, Enge brings the story arc to a triumphant close.
The prose reads like Valerio Massimo Manfredi and Andrzej Sapkowski, and indeed there’s something of Geralt the Witcher about Morlock; the character is beautifully flawed - he might be a gifted swordsman, master of magical makers and son of Merlin, but he’s just as likely to fail as any of the rest of us. This time around, he’s got to part ways with his lover of 100 years to combat the Sunkillers who wish to, uh, kill the sun.
Very rich and wonderfully imaginative, the prose is opulent and the settings conjured with a dreamy sense of realism. Some of the dialogue is clunky, losing the same ease of pace as the description. Given Enge teaches classic languages at university level, it’s no surprise that there’s emphasis on geography and drearily describing how things work. But world building is at its best and most evocative when sparsely used.
There’s a bizarre reliance on Terry Pratchett-style humour and farce, always at odds with the rest of the book, and it’s also given us one of the most awkward sex scenes this side of Fifty Shades. But it’s a brilliant culmination of classic storytelling traditions, Tolkien fantasy and more modern attitudes towards the genre all rolled up into one read. Sometimes clunky, often impenetrable, and very nearly a must-read.
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