The Devil’s Library, a fantasy published, copyright and written by Watson Davis.
The Skybears, a clan of the Onei nation, led by Gartan, a brutal berserker, and his son Tethan have just successfully completed a raid, killed the captive head of the village and are distracted from killing his wife by an offer of one of the captives of a map that will lead to the greatest prize of all. The map is to the Temple of Arenghel “in the Ohkrulon Desert in the land of the Nayen” which is far to the south of their northern homeland. They take the map but Gartan kills him anyway and begins to devise a plan to raid the temple. He will need more ships for supplies to reach his objective as well as to return with the anticipated plunder. Shria has such ‘cargo’ vessels, so he successfully raids there. During the lengthy battle Tethan manages to kill an almost ‘unkillable’ dragon that is wreaking havoc on them. Other clans of the Onei hear of the raid, map and Gartan’s intentions and want also to participate. Unfortunately, although a very capable leader, Gartan is a rather overbearing, self-assured individual whose ambition overrides everything else. Thus, he is not about to share this ‘prize’ until the more thoughtful Tethan convinces him that not only would more fighters be helpful but that more would be required to man the ships. With some question lingering with respect to a final decision, Tethan, who has gained tremendous stature among the clans for his dragon killing episode, makes a speech that unites the various clans of the Onei and the tale continues as the raid is planned, executed and proceeds to a rousing closing battle. The ending perhaps is somewhat different than usually might be expected, but the author has provided an epilogue that sets forth three of the more intriguing, and perhaps deserving, character wrap ups that takes care of the ‘loose-ends’.
Discussion: Generally speaking, this is a fantasy that devotees will enjoy. The cast of characters is quite extensive with the usual unique names that unfortunately often offer difficulty in assimilation. However, as the story progresses most do evolve into acceptable familiarity as their interaction develops, and some evolve to an empathetic level. The action is at a high-octane level for the most part and includes mages of different levels as healers, illusionists, Godspeakers, and more, with their numerous incantations, dispersing fire, lightning and other missiles, spells, etc. Dragons and unusual animal varieties also are included. Battle scenes are lengthy, brutal, and bloody with graphic descriptions. Admittedly this reviewer found himself scrambling to get started and really did not ‘feel comfortable’ with the book’s flow and a number of minor questionable usages of nautical terminology until about mid-way through. Part of this latter, however well may evolve from particular awareness of certain areas of the assumed ninth to eleventh century setting of this tale. It is my belief that some judicious editing, especially in the first part, would enhance the tale’s enjoyment.
Conclusion: Generally speaking, a fantasy involving Viking-like characters battling demon-like Satan influenced individuals in a fast-moving tale devotees of the genre should enjoy. The author’s wrap-up is particularly well done adding an interesting depth beyond that usually encountered in these stories.
4* Enjoyable fantasy for most devotees; -1 judicial editing helpful to enhance.