Usually, after I read a book I really enjoyed, I blog about it right away--sometimes, the same day I finish. That didn't happen with the latest book I read, Larry Correia's Son of the Black Sword. A little writing project in November delayed my review. Even though it's been more than a month since I finished it, I'm still remembering a lot of the very cool parts of this book. It's a good one!
I used to read a lot of fantasy novels, but I've tapered off lately. Many of the stories seem to be so similar, it's like I'm not reading anything original. I believe this attitude keeps me from some great stories. Case in point, Correia's award-winning Son of the Black Sword. I found this to be an extremely original story. Of course, there's battles and evil and kingdoms and demons, but what I loved about this book is the way the author created a world we understand, specifically the caste system that's in place. In interviews Correia said part of his inspiration for this story came from the caste system found in India. It makes sense. It puts much of the main character's decision-making processes into focus, as well as the reasoning for the other character's decisions. A character can't do this because he's this, or someone of this particular status is unable to do this or be that.
We first learn of Ashok Vadal, a Protector of the Law warrior skilled at killing demons, nasty demons. He wields a sword that has a name (Angruvadal). It's also a sword that chooses one worthy of even touching it--a very cool attribute. Correia describes Ashok as a man incapable of feeling fear. Even though he's the most skilled warrior alive, that trait can take a man far. After battling not one, but two demons, he's given a message which, upon reading it, he immediately leaves for his homeland. His life, and the lives of many others, will never be the same.
Correia uses the caste system so well. For me it portrayed a very accurate reflection of some of the stupid customs we ourselves are guilty of implementing. There's magic in this world as well. Different kingdoms crave the power found in black steel. Ashok goes from the most feared and respected citizens of his kingdom to lower than the lowest beggar, a being that's less than human.
The book as won a series of awards. I don't know how many novels will be in this series, but this is definitely not the final tale of Ashok and the others. But, it can also very well stand on its own. Those who have read this book know it's something special. And if more high fantasy is written to this caliber these days, I may have to get into the genre again. I do know, when another installment comes out, I'll be more than a little anxious to dive into that one as well.