Kyrik Fights the Demon World. Hell Breaks Loose, By the Numbers.

I’ve read a few of Gardner Fox’s Kothar books. So when I saw his name on the cover of Kyrik Fights the Demon World I didn’t hesitate to snatch up the book.

No one will claim that Fox was a master stylist. Take this paragraph from page one of Demon World.

And so Makonnon quested through spatial emptiness into lands that had known him, long and long ago. He sent his mind across unfathomable distances, seeking, hunting, searching for that which so infuriated him.

“…seeking, hunting, searching…” Filling out your word count by sheer redundancy. I sought, hunted, and searched for a reason to keep reading. Well, that’s not true. I trusted Fox and kept going. And he didn’t disappoint. If you’ve read any Kothar (or, for that matter, any of the other Kyrik books: this one is apparently book two of a series) you know what to expect. Fox hits all the right notes. If you give me a book with a mighty warrior cleaving through ranks of monsters while two scantily clad, beautiful women vie for his affections, then I’m not going to pick too many nits.

But I will pick some. Uncritical praise is boring. Kyrik seems more a tool, a chess piece of the gods, rather than an independent actor in his own right. Sometimes I thought the title ought to be Kyrik and the Deus ex Machina. Still, he does have his moments of individual initiative, quick thinking, and heroism. And it isn’t unheard of in Sword-and-Sorcery tales for the hero to be the cat’s paw of some god or wizard.

Fox can conjure up an imaginative set piece. And he kept the pace brisk. He follows a bit of talky-talky in a tavern with a street battle against a horde of murderous cat-men. Then tosses in some vulture demons for good measure. What’s not to like? Fox makes good on the title, with Kyrik facing off against not one, but two Demon Lords, and hell-spawned armies. The action sequences at the end make me wonder if the creators of the Diablo video game franchise were Fox fans.

So, Demon World is hardly a quintessential component of the S&S canon. But it is a meat-and-potatoes-and-can-of-beer read. If I stumble across any of the other Kyrik books, doubtless I’ll pick it up.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to mention that Warlord: Falchion’s Company Book Three is now available on Kindle and in print. The audio book is in the works. (The audio versions of Boss: Falchion’s Company Book One and Captain: Falchion’s Company Book Two are now available.) So, that’s the entire series done, for your reading pleasure. Is it up to Fox’s standard? That’s for you to judge.