Author: Robert Kroese
Pages: 220 (ebook)
Published: November 6th 2012
Published by: 47North
Being assassinated doesn't have many upsides, so when King Boric is felled by a traitor, the king comforts himself with the knowledge that, like all great warriors, he will spend eternity carousing in the Hall of Avandoor. There's just one problem: to claim his heavenly reward, Boric must release the enchanted sword of Brakslaagt.
Now, to avoid being cursed to walk the land of Dis forever as an undead wraith, he must hunt down the mysterious Lord Brand who gave him the sword twenty years ago. So begins Boric's extraordinary journey across the Six Kingdoms of Dis, a walking corpse who wants nothing more than to be disenchanted and left in peace. Along the way he's advised by the Witch of Twyllic, mocked by the threfelings of New Threfelton, burned, shot at, and nearly blown to bits. But nothing can prepare him for coming face-to-face with Lord Brand. For in that moment, Boric discovers that nothing—in life, in death, or in between—is exactly what it seems.
Boric, King of Ytrisk, pretty much dies at the start of this story. I saw pretty much, because it turns out his enchanted sword won't let him die so easily. He finds himself - very unwillingly - as a wraith, spirit intact but his body rotting and falling to pieces around him. And it is in this very fragile body that he has to try and defeat the evil mastermind who gave him the cursed sword to start off with. On his way he meets a whole host of often more than slightly ridiculous characters.
And it was a pretty good story, with a twist that I didn't see coming at all. There was a lot of misdirection and misinformation, and whenever you thought you had it sorted it twisted around again. Of course, all this did take place in the last section, and the pacing could have been evened out a little, for the earlier sections - whilst readable - weren't particularly encapturing. In those, we flick between Boric-the-dead, and Boric-the-very-much-alive-and-killing-(sort of)-an-ogre. But in neither of them are any particular leaps forward made. Stuff happens in the former, and history is set up in the latter. Again, it is only in the later sections of the book that everything starts to come together, but I think it may have been a more engrossing read if there had been some more stuff going on for Boric-the-dead in the earlier sections than randomly stumbling from place to place.
When it comes to characters, Boric is the only one that appears with anywhere near enough consistency to really get a feel for. Others pop in and out (I was particularly a fan of Bubbles, the flying bear; in large part because his name was Bubbles), but their appearances tend to be fleeting a best - even in a book of only 200-some pages. But Boric does grow with the story, and there are some nice parts. He is obviously a very intelligent man in his own way: strategy and war rather than academia, but there is a deepening to him in the course of the story which probably would have been heart-warming if I'd cared for him more. Because, for all his snarky humour (which I appreciated), it was quite difficult to develop any depth of feeling for him. I wanted to see how everything worked out, but I didn't particularly care if he got disenchanted and un-wraithed.