A black comedy (imho) set in an epic fantasy world, which is where I shall start. The worldbuilding is good. It feels solid and the place is easily pictured - heard and smelt - and I can see myself wandering the streets (although that's a scary prospect) and drinking in the inn.
Characters? Well, they're full of character, that's for sure. I believe some of them come from the main series and, as I imagine is the point, that intrigues me and makes me want to learn more about them; the doormen are funny and, had I inserted my own voices for them, not the narrators, I know I would like them all the more. They're my kind of funny, banter-filled grimdark 'ard-men. The namesake of the inn is also hilarious, a great character and it was a fantastical introduction to him. I think his embodiment was my favorite story of the collection!
The action was swift and to the point, which is how I like it. No drawn out fights that go on and on, just quick and brutal and no nonsense. Paul writes a good action scene which I imagine he does a lot more of in the series proper.
For those who are reading the main series, I imagine you will get a lot more out of this collection than I did, since I'm reading (listening to) the shorts first. However, they did intrigue me and make me want to find out more about the characters and place involved, it's history, politics and the strife that's going on.
Being overly sensitive to the narration aside, I still managed to enjoy Paul's characters and setting and am damned sure if I had read it, I would have given it a 4*, hence why I am going to do just that. It's not fair to lessen it for the narration, because that's my problem, not Paul's - or the narrators - but I wanted to be honest in my review as I received the Audio copy from Paul for an honest review. I hope he doesn't mind my level of honesty, especially when I say that I look forward to his other work, both present and future.
Tales From Ashen Falls is an interesting collection of 4 short stories which serve to introduce various characters from Paul Lavender’s novel, The Eighth God. The stories in this collection are easy to get into, and each is a small slice of fun. Particularly amusing are the brothers Pock and Cock, who feature in the last 3 of the 4 stories. Their actions and banter make them something of a comic relief, and are ever so slightly reminiscent of R.A. Salvatore’s dwarf brothers, Ivan and Pikel Bouldershoulder (although Pock and Cock are far from dwarf-height and are considerably more foul-mouthed). If you don’t take these stories too seriously, and don’t get your knickers in a twist over the occasional questionable motivation or slight hiccup in the narrative, you should enjoy these stories if you like a bit of mystery, action, magic, and murder. As for the audio narration, I expect I would have preferred to read the stories rather than listen to them, due to a string of very slight but frequent blunders by the narrator. That being said, the dialogue and narrative delivery did at times shine, particularly in the cases of Pock and Cock, so don’t be dissuaded from giving the audiobook a try for yourself.
Summary: If not for my issues with the narration (possibly subjective), I would likely have given this book 5 stars rather than 4, but it is certainly an enjoyable introduction and sets the tone for the series. The Eighth God is on my listen-to list, and I hope that the narrator has given more polish to the novel than he did to the short stories.
This is a collection of short fantasy tales from author Paul Lavender which act as a prelude his novel, The Eighth God. The stories read very well as standalone stories without having to have read his other work first. The writing style is darkly humorous and is a great introduction to the authors writing style. It is quite short, only 90 pages, and contains four connected short stories set in the town of Ashen Falls.
Melress and the Fading Man is the first story, a dark and sinister story of a folk tale character from the author’s world. I really liked this one it reminds me of real cautionary children’s folk tales from around the world. The remaining stories seemed focused around the tavern which gives the next tale its title, The Doves Head. Followed by Melress Investigates and finaly, but in no means least, The Scarecrow. These stories are full of the hilarious and foul banter of two characters named Pock and Cock, two battle-mage door-men who work the doors of the tavern. We get deadly creatures, necromancy (which I particulary liked), talking heads and all manner of dark, imaginative goings-on’s and characters.
I really enjoyed Tales from Ashen Falls and found it a fun read. I look forward to reading Lavenders The Eight God (added to TBR). This book was a really enjoyable collection of fun, well-paced stories that I’m giving 4.5 stars to. I would recommend giving this a try if you like your fantasy with a twist of dark humour.
Lavender's four short stories are by turns gruesome and funny, replete with the good old English dry sense of humour. Set in the fictional city of Ashen Falls, they connect a motley of protagonists, my favourites being the brothers Cock and Pock, a pair of warrior-wizards who seem to be moonlighting as bouncers at their local pub.
These stories carry a mixture of horror and humour with a fair dollop of blood and guts and some fast-paced zany fight scenes - but then what can you expect when a necromancer rocks up into town and the local elvish nightwatchman turns out to be a psycho killer? This book had several quirky ideas that I liked, including a magic system that ages those who use it and an enchanted throwing star that takes on a life of its own as it tries to decapitate our two (not so) heroic bouncers.
My one criticism would be that this book needs an editor to touch up the syntax here and there and to sort out the punctuation: I did have to re-read sentences a few times. I hope Lavender does this at some point, as I think his writing style is intended to be speedy and succinct and would certainly benefit from a second pair of eyes.
That aside, I thought this was an enjoyable read that manages to be light-hearted yet dark at the same time. Plus it's not often you see short stories or black comedy in the fantasy genre, so this was a good effort all around.