Thursday, February 13, 2014
The Legend of Vanx Malic - Through the Wildwood, M. R. Mathias
I've become both enamored and aggravated by a series from indie author M.R. Mathias, the Legend of Vanx Malic. I love it, it pisses me off, and I love it. Book one, Through the Wildwood is intriguing, irritating, and left me feeling like I had just met my future ex-boyfriend--from the outset I was enchanted by the whole notion of the badboy bard, but knew the relationship was gonna turn ugly. It did, and I loved it anyway.
A half-zythian bard named Vanx is in chains for bedding the Duchess of Highlake. The Duke wants him dead, but his wife secretly sent their daughter to buy his freedom from the slave markets.
This is bad news, for bad things can happen to an ill guarded caravan in the mountains. When the duke's mercenaries attack to kill the adulterous prisoner all hell breaks loose. Now, the only way Vanx and the Princess of Highlake can escape the duke and his men is if they can somehow make it through the Wildwood, a place that no one has ever returned from before.....
I think my favorite line in this book comes a little more than halfway through the book. "I usually show up in a place riding in the lap of luxury and leave in chains." That completely describes Vanx Malic. He is a slave to his libido, which has led to being sold as a slave in actuality. Not only that, but a badass duke wants him dead, as Vanx rather publicly humiliated him by making the duke's wife very happy.
M.R. Mathias sets the scene well, describing the environment just enough that the reader's mind fills in the gaps. The beasts are awesome, and the atmosphere of barbaric splendor reeks of old-school sword and sorcery novels.
I love the way Vanx is portrayed. He is out there, warts and all, charming, roguish, and rather like my favorite barbarian, Fafhrd. The female characters are two-dimensional, though, which is why this is really the sort of tale Fritz Lieber would have written. Alas, I adored Fritz in all his currently politically incorrect glory, and so I love this tale.
It's an adventure, raw, violent, sexy if you're a man, sexy if you're a girl who can't walk away from the badboys. I'm giving it 5 stars despite the fact I yelled at the book several times. (My husband is used to that.) The fact Mathias was able to involve me in the tale to that extent deserves the high rating.