Edition 25: Book Review: War God Rising by Tim Marquitz
Reviewed by Damien Smith
Once I’d happened upon a book billed as “Monty Python meets Gladiator”, purporting to combine my loves of absurd humour and gratuitous sword-and-sorcery violence, there was no way I was returning to my ever-teetering To Read pile without first giving War God Rising a go.
However having now finished the book, Monty Python didn’t feel quite right to me. Perhaps the closest I could see to the mix of inappropriate humour and over-the-top violence would be the Mr Creosote sketch from Monty Python’s the meaning of life (minus the wafer thin mint, more’s the pity). But having just seen the Deadpool movie the same week as reading this, I would call it a lot closer in tone to that than classic Python. For the record, I loved Deadpool.
Our two main characters are Bess the sorceress and Kaede the ex-pit fighter. The span of the story follows their efforts to pull off one final big pay day to set them up for life, by rigging the War God tournament. To achieve this end they need a patsy; someone with the right look, skills and lack of brains, who could fight their way through a series of deadly opponents without ever realising how much the deck is stacked in their favour.
Enter Sand, the oafish, dim-witted, deviant slab of muscle about to be hanged for his penchant for romantic trysts with the woollier variety of farm animal. Indebted to Kaede and Bess for saving him, and with a head full of glory at becoming War God, Sand is the perfect combination of tough, brash and stupid to give their scheme a fighting chance.
What follows is an almost unrelenting combination of cunning plans, cheap fart jokes, genuine belly laughs and stomach-turning gore as our scheming duo pull every dirty trick they can in an effort to shunt Sand through to the final bout of the tournament. The character development was sufficient enough for me to empathise with Kaede and Bess despite their flaws, and to almost feel sorry for the immensely dislikeable Sand when we discover he’s going to get hung out to dry.
This is an excellent mixture of high fantasy and low-brow humour. It’s no sprawling epic at a whisker under two hundred pages, but this style of story wouldn’t work over 150,000 words. The humour is dark, the gore slightly darker (in a fetching shade of red mixed with grey matter) and the ending no real surprise given the build-up. Undoubtedly not for everyone, this was nevertheless an immensely fun ride while it lasted.
War God Rising (Tim Marquitz)
Amazon Digital Services, 2016
Being a writer requires dedication, commitment, devotion, diligence, a skin like an armadillo and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. By this definition, Damien is most definitely not a writer, although he does occasionally put pen to paper. More accurately, Damien is a lover of the written word in nearly all its forms (you can keep vampire romances) and always feels a little down if he can see over his To Read pile.