Carnifex: A Portent of Blood by D.P. Prior
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Carnifex Thane is a member of the guard in the dwarven ravine city of Arx Gravis. When the Scriptorium is robbed and a sacred text goes missing, the unchanging way of life in Arx Gravis is threatened and Carnifex Thane's life soon spins out of control...
Confession time: While I played Dungeons and Dragons back in Hyborean Age, I'm not a fan of today's kitten squishing epic fantasy. However, pulp-style fantasy in the vein of Leiber/Howard/Moorcock? Sign me up!
Carnifex is a tragic tale of loss, fate, destiny, and cultural stagnation. Arx Gravis is a stifling Dwarf city where outsiders are forbidden. No one gets in or out. The lower one goes in the Ravine City, the rougher things get. Baresarks and pit fights are commonplace at the bottom. Carnifex Thane is the son of a miner and a member of the Red Cloaks, the guards who never see much action. Things change when a thief steals an ancient text.
Carnifex's life soon circles the drain. The way of life in Arx Gravis is questioned, a golem attacks, and a dwarf who had very little loses what little he has. And that's just the beginning.
D.P. Prior crafts a tragedy in the Elric mold. The writing reminds me of Moorcock, David Gemmell, and other fantasy writers who know how to tell a complete tale in less than six kitten-squishing tomes. The world building is very well done, seamlessly worked into the text, revealing the culture of the dwarves of Arx Gravis without beating the reader over the head with dwarven marching songs and things of that nature.
I knew nothing of The Nameless Dwarf or D.P. Prior before I entered the giveaway for this and that's a shame. Carnifex is a throwback to the days of Ace paperback fantasy and bloody good fun. Four out of five stars.
View all my reviews