The Hammer and the Blade by Paul S. Kemp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Egil and Nix, after slaying a demon during a routine tomb-plundering, are pulled into the machinations of a sorcerer whose family has made a pact with the same clan the demon was a part of. Also, they buy a bar.
The Hammer and the Blade seems to be an homage to those Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser tales I love so much, a buddy swords and sorcery tale. The two bicker and exchange witty dialogue while plundering tombs and running afoul of sorcerers and demons and things. It's a lot of fun at times.
However, since I read this shortly after reading a few Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser short stories, I'm reminded of McDonald's. The Egg McMuffin, much like Fahfrd and the Gray Mouser, is wonderful in small doses. However, if you start eating them three meals a day, you begin to suspect it's not the perfect nutrient delivery system you thought it was.
While there are parts I liked quite a bit, The Hammer and the Blade largely feels like a Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser short story crammed into a 300 page paperback. In short, there's a ton of filler. Much like an Egg McMuffin, now that I think of it.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I thought it felt really padded for what it was. I loved the ending, though, and I liked the lead characters enough that I'll read the next one at some point. Three out of five stars.
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