Wow, busy week here. Lil Buddy got to check out the school she’ll be going to come September and if you think a four-year-old couldn’t get stressed I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. In between putting gemstones on sponges to make a pirate treasure, two trips to the library for more books and getting my ass handed to me on Dark Souls I managed to get the above read.
As well as Quag Keep.
I was planning on looking at Quag Keep for this post but decided against it. I enjoyed it, quite a lot as it happens, but decided at the last moment that it wasn’t the one I wanted to write about. My problem was that over the last twenty years I’ve read a lot of Gaming novelisations. Dragonlance, Shadowrun hell I’ve even read Warcraft. Oh, and Warhammer, so much Warhammer! I know that Norton did it first with Quag Keep, but all those books queered that particular pitch. It didn’t feel as fresh as I hoped it would, and that’s without a doubt due to those that came after.
So I decided to check out the earliest piece I could find which lead me The People of the Crater. This, this was what I was looking for. Once again I picked up elements that had been used by others which was quite thrilling if I’m honest. It’s a great feeling when you make that connection and realize that your education is progressing apace.
The first thing that hits you after you put the book down is just how tightly it’s plotted. You’d have to be an idiot to claim that the pulp writers bloated their works, the reality is just the opposite. There isn’t a wasted word paragraph or scene in the whole story and it clips along. It read like a blend of Merritt and Burroughs but with enough of an individual voice that it never felt like a pastiche or homage.
Then there was the romance. Obvious from the start how it would end up and even what the problem was, but no worse for that. The story needed that romance to give the story some real meaning and the hero some serious motivation. Again, some serious shades of The Ship of Ishtar, but more as a guiding hand than a glaring light. I know I intend to use it to guide an element of my latest WIP.
Lastly, there’s the hero. Have I ever mentioned that I hate the term ‘protagonist’? There’s just no need for it and it dilutes what I as a reader want from the character who’s front and centre. Norton gives us a hero, a proper one who does the right thing even though all he wants to do is wrong. He rises above it and by doing so is justly rewarded. Ah, that’s the way you want a story to end, no false notes, just a well earned reward. The sad thing is the first time we see the hero he’s essentially a down and out, despite being a veteran. It’s sad because 70 years on you could still start a story the same way and it would be equally as believable.
You can, if you so desire, read it for free here.
That’s all for now, take care guys