8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Historical fiction meets humorous fantasy?,
By A Customer
This review is from: Thraxas: The Thraxas Novels: Book One (Paperback)
"Thraxas" is the first of the Thraxas novels written by Martin Millar under the pseudonym of Martin Scott. This was the second Thraxas chronicle I had the fortuity to read, and although it received the (Texan Orbit) World Award for Best Fantasy Novel of 1999, I found it remarkably similar to the third novel "Thraxas At The Races". Nonetheless, "Thraxas" was a huge delight despite its wavering originality, interspersed with laugh-out-loud one-liners, sardonic Thraxas witticisms, and satiric observations by Millar. The novel is set in the magical, and ultimately corrupt city of Turai, arch-nemesis to the self-reproachful Niojan nation next door. The unlikely protagonist of the sojourn into fantasy is Thraxas, a Sorcerous Private Investigator (akin to the hardboiled "film noir" American P.I.), who despite being a cynical, ribald drunkard, is also a philosopher, scholar and all round amiable fellow. Unfortunately for him, his girth (er...he's rather bulbous, one might say) is prone to getting incongruously in the way, just as he is about to solve one of the (yet again) intensely complex three mysteries which intertwine and overlap one another. Just as Turai is climactically altering to 'Orcish hell' in terms of sweltering heat, and just as Thraxas desperately needs to acquire some money before his predilection for beer and gambling interfere in sustaining his life, he is commissioned by Praetor Cicerius to prevent his son Celius from being implicated in a dwa drug dealing operation; by a pair of sly Elves to recover a stolen Red Elvish Cloak; and by the Princess Du-Akai, third in line to the monarchist throne of Turai, to save her from being blamed from the robbery of the Elvish fur itself. Throw in an insanely psychotic half Orc-Sorcerer, a thazis-smoking Sorceress geriatric, a gruesomely large alligator, an extremely determined war dragon, an insistent Pontifex, and a curiously present female Assassin with a penchant for throwing ninja stars and you really have the fundamentals for a rollicking Thraxas adventure. Because of the condensed form of the exploits, "Thraxas" with its unutterably fast flowing plot ends and overlapping mysteries is a difficult novel to comprehend unless one reviews every reading afterwards carefully. Because of the numerous subplots and the multitude of likely suspects as well as Thraxas's spontaneous musings about the culprits, "Thraxas" acts as a variety of well developed historical mystery the likes of Steven Saylor, whilst still providing a wilting romance of sorts, duplicitous politics, smoothly moving action, and sporadic hilarious happenings. Sometimes darkly comic, sometimes convoluted and impulsive, the wit and satire are ever present and the scathing jabs at prejudice, social clashes and drug dealing are noticed through the fabric of the snigger-worthy jokes. "Thraxas" is a novel that is both surrealistically unique and intellectually entertaining, whilst still maintaining an edge of dangerous humour and amusing the reader with the wry catastrophe that Turai is. I recommend this to those who read Terry Pratchett, Steven Saylor, Tom Holt or James Bibby, as it will provide an alleviated read on that weary bus ride home.