Sometimes we need an old-fashioned read. Sword and sorcery, the type with thieves and tomb-robbing and demonic bargains and mutterings in the dark. I needed one recently, for pretty obvious reasons, and I found it in Paul S Kemp's The Hammer and the Blade. I enjoyed it, but I find myself struggling to talk about it now. Part of this is because any book read at a bad time gets subsumed a little by that badness, which is what happened to a couple of Pyr books, and why I wrote about the reader's role in reading for BiblioBuffet - a reader is never a neutral party in books. I read it after the worst, but it was still a lovely bit of escapism just when I needed it, and that colours my thinking about it.
The Hammer and the Blade is pretty much according to formula, but it's a good formula with a solid audience and Kemp handles it well and with enough individuality to make it easy to turn the pages and say to oneself, "Oh no, he's not going to do that, is he?" And there's enough humour and enough cliff-hangeriness* to make every page worth turning.
This book was manna in my difficult weeks. It was one of the first books I read when I could see words properly again and think a little more clearly and it just fitted my needs at that moment. If you don’t like sword and sorcery or dungeons or thieves or twisted humour, then this book probably isn't for you, but I'd give it a go anyhow, just to see.
*This is a word we needed to have, so I invented it. Just now.