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Posted April 22, 2011
It's been a long time since I read heroic fantasy outside of the stuff I'd read when I was younger. It's really the stuff that got me reading and writing in the first place, but I haven't explored much beyond re-reads of Howard, Moorcock, Leiber, etc. in the last few years. Gramlich is a worthy addition to that pantheon of writing heavyweights, in my opinion. I've read a fair amount of his short fiction online in various places, and in collections, but this was the first book I've read BY him, if that makes any sense. It won't be the last.
I like the care that has been taken in putting this collection together. The stories aren't all of equal quality -- I think Charles would agree -- but they are fascinating in showing the growth of a writer, and even the ones with a purplish bruise here and there are still a lot of fun (the humorous pieces, which I didn't know if I would like, were great -- "If you can read this the witch fell off" got me to chortle out loud, since it's something of an inside "biker" reference). Hell, one can say the very same thing about Robert E. Howard's work, a man where Gramlich and my tastes mirror each other. I enjoyed the introduction to the book very much, I loved the comments preceding each story, and I loved the afterword that explains how each story came to be. Combined with the blood and heroics in the actual collected pieces, this book was a hell of a good time. It's one I regret having purchased in eBook format, because now I'm going to have to buy it AGAIN to have on my shelf!
I'm sure Mr. Gramlich won't mind that, though....