Cook began his fantasy series Chronicles of an Age of Darkness with the witty Wizards and the Warriors, which viewed magicians as their world's equivalent of none-too-responsible nuclear physicists. This second volume offers the picaresque adventures of stalwart, hapless Togura Poulaan. Seeking only to free his beloved Day Suet, Togura escapes war, imprisonment and encounters with spirits, pirates, dragons, talking rocks and pagan tribes. In fact, the author seems to delight in tormenting his hero, a somewhat Don Quixoteish figure. The resulting shifts in tonesardonic, philosophic, pragmatic and pedagogickeep the reader interested and off balance, never sure what's next or why. The highlight of the book is the depiction of the odex, the creature that has swallowed the heroine. Part bottomless cornucopia, part garbage disposal, this being punctuates its random disgorging of items, people and monsters from other universes by burping up ghosts. Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Fleeing for his life from an impossible marriage, a bullying brother, and a vindictive father who heads the powerful Warguild, Togura undertakes a frantic quest for the rival Wordsmiths' Guild to find a magical index rumored to lie hidden in a bottle inside a castle far from the dismal land of Sung. This sequel to The Wizards and the Warrior displays Cook's comedic sense in broad strokes as the luckless, endearing hero bumbles his way from disaster to disaster in an entertaining fantasy. JC Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I can't rate this high enoughJuly 15 2000
- Published on Amazon.com
I originally came across this book in a library sale for 25 cents, and I was bored and wasn't expecting much when i Started reading, but it is definitely THE best book I have ever read in my life, and I've read every Feist, Tolkien, and Jordan book. I read it in 3 days, and it was so good that I didn't put it down except to eat and sleep, and I didn't sleep much. I really liked how the hero doesn't always win and can be humiliated and unlucky like anyone else. I especially like the parts where it seems like he is going to go crazy and how his hallucinations are described. I was very surprised that this wasn't a best seller; it must have been overlooked or something, and that is a shame, because one of the best writers in the world isnt even on the top 10, while books like Harry Potter and the Magic Pot or something are selling millions of copies. I HIGHLY recommend this book. You'll be glad you got it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
gritty fantasy romp that adds to the cumulative sagaJuly 6 1998
- Published on Amazon.com
cook has tried and in fact done well to write 10!! books that are all set in a post apocalyptic world. He pits magic against good old fashioned bloodthirsty gore and AT LAST some bad luck that people in such circumstances would be delt. It's quite refreshing to see a hero slapped down often in a humiliating and realistic way. Sometimes gritty, funny, grotesque he tries to cover a small period of time ?? 30 years, in world, from 10 different peoples viewpoints. Some of the cameo appearances of previous "stars" of other books , seen from the new hero's perspective is nicely done. On the whole a couple of novels stand out on their own a bit and are not that integral, but at 10 books if you like it, there's loads of it.......................Highly Recommended "The Walrus and the Warwolf" ... enjoy ps. hugh cook... if your out there email me please..are a medical man ?. You certainly describe, with relish, many of the more unpleasant medical afflictions out there..
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good introduction to Hugh CookJan. 2 2006
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"The Wordsmiths and the Warguild" begins with the classic scenario of a father forcing an innocent child into an unwanted marriage. Slerma, daughter of the King of Sung, is betrothed to Togura, son of a wealthy and powerful baron. The twist is that it's Togura who's desperate to escape the marriage, as the princess is monstrously fat and ugly, as well as obscene and agressive. Going on the lam, Togura manages to land what looks liek a cushy position as monster-slayer for the wordsmiths, but more unfortunate events unfold and Togura is on the run across the continent.
One might view most of the story elements in this book as classis fantasy. Hugh Cook sets himself apart in two ways. First, he has attitude. "The Wordsmiths and the Warguild" is ribald, funny, gleefully offensive and at times almost abusive to its hero, who just can't catch a break. Moreover, Cook has inverted the standard fantasy hero. Togura is neither particularly strong nor smart nor brave. When danger emerges, he screams and runs away if he can. Even his loyalty to his true love wavers at times. In a strange way, though, these flaws make him more likable than standard fantasy drones, and you'll be cheering for him all the louder by the end of the book.
Adding to the flavor of the book is a surprising attachment to grit and realism. These qualities seem largely to have been abandoned by most of today's fantasy authors. Hugh Cook evidently did his homework; "The Wordsmiths and the Warguild" keenly brings up a number of the harsher realities of mideival life, such as:
1. There was not always a road or trail leading from point A to point B. Even when there is a trail it could be overgrown, or washed away by bad weather. Travel was extremely difficult and often dangerous.
2. Sickness and injury. There was no hospitals during the Middle Ages, no doctors, and few medicines. Plagues and epidemics were common. If you were ill or hurt, you might well simply be abandoned to die. If you did manage to survive, recoveries were generally long and painful.
3. Food. Ever find it amazing that some fantasy heroes can carry enough food for a six-month quest? In "The Wordsmiths and the Warguild", food is often scarce. You cannot simply go into the woods and hunt or gather up dinner. Cook is brutally honest about the effects of starvation, and that, in fact, makes some of the book's most effective scenes.
4. Sex. Yes, sex exists in this book. Togura goes through as much sexual embarrassment as any teenage male, as he stumbles through several awkward moments.
No one will ever accuse Hugh Cook of literary brilliance. But despite his undeniable pulp qualities, "The Wordsmiths and the Warguild" is readable, entertaining and at times strangely compelling. Hugh Cook stands out for his observation that the mideival world was harsh, cruel, and frequently very painful. He is obviously driving at a belief that most of the human race is selfish and small-minded. But (with one unfortunate exception) he never delves into political lectures or monologing. Thus I give this book a whole-hearted recommendation. If you're getting tired of the piles and bland and syrupy drivel on bookstore shelves (and I'm not pointing any fingers, but two authors with first name 'Terry' are surfacing in my mind), this might be just the cure for what ails you.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Smug, crass, but original subversion of perspectiveJune 29 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
Smug, pompous, overly pleased with himself for using 'flatulence' instead of 'fart' type language. Poor start. Somewhat farcical fantasy, broad, frequently undergraduate humour (think Black Adder for the coarseness and vocabulary, but without the wit). Almost no attempt to make different races, tribes, lands cohere - protagonist just wanders about bumping into barely two dimensional characters and settings. But ... nice, relatively original broad approach, in two ways. 1) The hero just gets buffeted about, little or no control, and definitely little help from the author to propel him onto steadily greater conquests; indeed, he often has no idea what's going on; 2) I didn?t actually realise I'd read the first book in the series (The Wizards and the Warlords) until more than half way in. The only way this book integrates is that instead of it being from the view of people making wars and changing events, it's from the view of someone just bowled along beside and in them, generally with no idea what's going on. Eventually you realise the events are the ones you read about in book one, but you, like the central character, also have no idea and are just getting through trying to survive. One chapter foregrounds this, the narrator saying that, were the protagonist more articulate, in addressing the role of the individual in history he?d state: 'History is what we understand. The rest is a waking nightmare. History is the explanation of who holds the knife. Without that explanation, all we understand is the pain.' I remember being annoyed at the beginning of the first book at the way Cook blithely has a 3000 year old wizard die because he does some stupid things - that anyone who'd survived for a fraction of that time would have the nous not to do. But he's all about demystifying heroes, saying they do do stupid things at times. He gets better once he gets into a book. His strengths are escaping the formula success story plots, and rare things like the last quote have some profundity, particularly in the context. In 'A Game of Thrones' George R.R. Martin was likewise willing to let his heroes unexpectedly suffer or even die, but he also built a grand, unified mythology/realm with some cohesive history (as opposed to random ideas), and created some decent characters.
Least interesting book in series...Oct. 14 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Readers of Hugh Cook's 10-book series will naturally want to collect and read all the books - a pricey proposition, considering that most of them are out of print and several are relatively hard to find.
My suggestion - skip this one, save your money and move on to the rest of the series.
Hugh Cook wrote this book as an afterthought, on the recommendation of his publisher. He had already plotted the whole series out, but the publisher didn't think the next book in the series - starring a woman "The Women and the Warlords" - would play well commercially. So this book was written up and quickly published in between, apparently to appeal to immature teenage boys.
It's rather repetitive, doesn't advance the plot much and only touches tangentially on the interesting characters and political developments of the first book in the series. I read it all the way through because I was convinced it was important, somewhere, something would matter. But Togura Poulaan, the hapless hero, doesn't do anything much of consequence and ultimately doesn't even improve his own life. A snore. A friend of mine who is a bigger fan of fantasy generally couldn't even finish it.
It doesn't compare in depth, interest or quality, or any way at all, with Book 1 or Book 3. Skip it.