Oron, Heavy Metal Noise.

David C. Smith’s Oron is a stripped down, dark epic fantasy. The scope is, perhaps, too broad to call this sword and sorcery, but that may be a quibble. The tropes are all in place, the bloody battles, swordplay, evil demonic sorcerers, nubile queens and slave girls, mercenaries, feasts, and more than a trace of horror. The Clyde Caldwell art is note perfect, his trademark light effects matching the garish nature of the material.

The story follows the titular Oron — barbarian and apparent chosen one — in his rise from mercenary to warlord to king, preparatory to his confrontation with his nemesis, the reincarnated (every thousand years from Hell) sorcerer Kossuth. There is a certain repetitiveness in the frequent sieges and battles to conquer the cities of various petty states. But the story does not fall into expected paths. It has the virtue of keeping the reader guessing. While I didn’t find Oron the character interesting enough that I’m likely to pick up the subsequent volumes of his adventures, he does possess some depth and weaknesses: a certain self-doubt, illiteracy, and bit of a drinking problem.

There is an unflinching brutality about the description of horrific deeds. Smith leans into the sheer evil of the villains. If nothing else, it serves to place the rather lacking-in-virtue protagonist in a comparatively brighter light.

The prose is serviceable, though I find stylistic turns such as using “sword” as a verb off-putting. A minor complaint for what is otherwise an enjoyable, if not monumental, read. There’s nothing wrong with straightforward entertainment. Not everything needs to be a work for the ages. (I for one am in no position to be casting stones.)

Cue the segue.

Speaking of straightforward entertainment, give Blood and Jade (the first volume of the Semi-autos and Sorcery series) a try. I remain pleased with that book and I think you’ll like the characters, action, and setting. The entire series will be released as a boxed set in August if you prefer to wait for the economy-size package.

I drove to Louisiana yesterday for lunch. Here are bonus pictures of Lake Charles.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *