Nine Parts Bluster (& Other Stories) by A.Z. Anthony
THE GOOD: Excellent characterisation, strong and straight forward plotting, good turn of phrase and witty prose.
THE BAD: I wanted more? Not in a ‘bad way’, more that I wanted to read more of the characters, and their stories, than I was introduced to in the short space of time it took to read this.
THE UGLY TRUTH: ‘Nine Parts Bluster’ is a 9 out of 10 bang-for-your-buck book. Cross the streams of of Joe Abercrombie’s ‘Sharp Ends’ and Robert E Howard’s ‘Conan’, this is a clash of four short-stories penned by a promising new talent.
So, from the top, ‘Nine Parts Bluster’ is the perfect ‘breakaway’ book. You could read all four parts in a lazy afternoon, or chunk it down – which is what I did, on train journeys. It was easy to read, easy to pick up where I left off, and easy to get sucked into.
The only problem I had with it was that it was all a little bit too easy…
The author has a heck of a lot of talent in his little finger – and the rest of the fingers that tap away on that keyboard of his. The thing is, with these four short stories, I never really got the feeling he was stretching himself. That is to say, despite his characters being fully realised, the worlds fleshed and full of life, and the world building built solidly, I wanted MORE. I wanted him to throw me, as the reader, into the deep end of a full-length novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed these four stories – the titular short being my favourite. It was a breath of fresh air to visit a fantasy world not based on a Western counterpart, and it was an even greater pleasure to come across something that harked back to Robert E Howard. Whilst much fantasy of recent has opted for the Mark Lawrence or Joe Abercrombie style of voice (the latter of which ‘Nine Parts Bluster’ speaks to) I was happy that this wasn’t yet another imitated voice. This was an exciting original.
Next time, just give me a full book!
This review first appeared on Michael Everest’s blog on May 31, 2017.