Thursday, June 2, 2016

Review: Thraxas

Thraxas Thraxas by Martin Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you pick this up with low expectations, there’s an awful lot to love about it. Thraxas is an overweight, under-magicked, street-fighter for hire who finds himself caught between several different clients in a world something like your typical Dungeons and Dragons game once it’s just beginning to go to seed.

The premise is easy to describe – Mickey Spillane meets Fritz Leiber – but Martin Scott (a pseudonym, I understand) gets it. He understands when to milk the concept with detail about how the rise of the drug dwa changes the social dynamic of the city, and he understands just as well when it’s time for an assassin to shoot a cross bow bolt for no reason we can yet understand.

The story gets tangled. It can be hard to figure out precisely what task most concerns Thraxas at any moment, and – short as it was – I still sometimes found myself forgetting who was who. But that doesn’t matter. Scott moves things quickly at all times, and he makes Thraxas perpetually fun: addled enough to down a half dozen bottles of wine yet also tough enough to handle himself in a serious fight. So what if just about everyone betrays him. He seems as likely to betray all of them if only he weren’t so down-at-the-heels.

We’re not talking art here, but, knowing that, pick it up for the sheer pulp joy of it. This is what Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files should have been, a light-hearted marriage of different fun genres, one that never takes itself seriously but also never loses sight of its obligation to keep the pages turning.

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