Adam Roberts reviews “The Cardinal’s Blades” by Pierre Pevel

More reviews are coming in for French author Pierre Pevel‘s novel, The Cardinal’s Blades (translated from the French by Tom Clegg). Here is author and critic Adam Roberts:

The result is an enormously thigh-slapping, cheering, toasting, roaring, puking, bawling, galloping, adventuring hearty piece of fiction. If it were any heartier, it would actually suffer from inflammatory cardiomegaly. Perhaps I might have liked a little more about the dragons themselves, if only to justify the decision to write the book as Fantasy rather than straight historical melodrama; but the novel instead chooses to focus mostly on Captain Fog’s varied crew, and the scrapes they get into. And into scrapes they do get indeed. Scrapes they do get in—they do get themselves scraped-up in … um.

They get into scrapes.

There’s lots and lots of swordfighting, but it’s rather more cliché than touché (aha! ha! you see what I did there?). The whole book, in fact, is prodigiously, momentously clichéd; but so energetically, so forcefully does Pevel inhabit these clichés, and with such aplomb, that you don’t mind. It’s all melodrama, all the time; everything is turned up to onze. Moments that would, in another novel, break the tension through sheer ludicrousness (‘“Dead?” Belle-Trogne asked, to put his mind at rest. “Yes. Strangled while he shat.”’, 221) here only endear the reader to the novel. – read the rest of the review.


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