Published in 2010, The Darkslayer is a standard Dungeons & Dragons style fantasy adventure written by Craig Halloran. The story takes place on the harsh world of Bish where a warrior named Venir (The Darkslayer) and his slim thieving companion Melegal live in the City of Bone where they make a living skimming and conning royalty out of their money. When Venir and Melegal finally make the mistake of crossing the wrong family of "Royals" they end up fleeing the City of Bone to avoid retribution. Here are my thoughts on The Darkslayer;
+ Quick, easy and entertaining read.
+ Some rather humorous dialogue.
+ Excellent hand drawn illustrations by Ernie Chan to accompany the story. If you enjoy the illustrations there are more available online if you search the author or artist's names. I found illustrations of Jarla the Brigand Queen, Farc the Ogre, Melegal and Eep the Imp. All very well done and should have been included in the original book.
+ Draws heavily on a Dungeons & Dragons background so if you're fan the story is more easily followed. In addition to all of the standard humanoid and demi-human races included you'll find spell casters using Web, Chain Lightning and other familiar spells as well magical Helms of Infravision/Regeneration, Hat of Hypnotism, Bags of Holding etc.
+ The Underlings were an interesting and exceptionally cruel race.
Cons <Contains SPOILERS>
- Amateurish Writing. I constantly found myself rewriting sentences in my head as I was reading so they sounded more coherent.
- Some poor and often laughable dialogue that would fit a modern day professional wrestling event but not a traditional fantasy setting. Examples include; "You're goin' down! Bring it! Shut it! Anyway... I heard that! You're a pain in the butt! Man, it's Vee! and the list goes on..."
- Plenty of ridiculous and goofy things in the story that prevent you from taking anything seriously. Such things include magic fish that make you grow, Venir being called "Big Vee" or "Big Stupid," Eep the Imp, Lefty Lightfoot the Halfling, Mood the giant red bearded dwarf, McKnight the detective, a female half-orc prostitute named Dolly, a giant two-headed Bull Mastiff named Chongo, The Vicious (some random nasty creatures), Melegal being called "Me" (became confusing while reading), Venir has a giant "V" tattooed on his back etc.
- Venir was referred to several times as having skinny legs but all of his strongman acts and the illustrations contradict this.
- Story suffers from the "Good Guys Always Win" scenario despite overwhelming odds.
The Darkslayer is about as generic of a fantasy book as you can get but that doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable. Is it Robert E. Howard? Definitely not. Is it the equivalent of the Summoner Geeks video where the guy says, "I'm attacking the darkness!?" Absolutely. He is the "Darkslayer" after all so attacking the darkness is his specialty. Despite the title I wouldn't really classify this as "Epic Fantasy" but instead "Fantasy Humor." The entire book just reminded me of goof off Dungeons & Dragons session with my friends when I was a kid. You know, when it got to be about 4am, the Dungeon Master ran out of things they prepared and began winging the adventure just so everyone could keep playing? That's exactly what The Darkslayer is. Is it serious? No. Is it an amusing read? Yes. Will I read the second installment in the series when it's published? Yep.