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Blood and Honor: The Forest Kingdom Saga, Parts 1 & 2 of Book 2
Simon R. Green
Multicast performance, adaptation
GraphicAudio, 10 hours

Simon R. Green
Simon R. Green was born in 1955 in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England. He obtained an M.A. in Modern English and American Literature from Leicester University and he also studied history and has a combined Humanities degree. After several years of publishers' rejection letters, he sold seven novels in 1988, just two days after he started working at Bilbo's bookshop in Bath. This was followed by a commission to write the novelization of the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He is a British Fantasy Society (BFS) member and still finds time to do some Shakespearean acting.

Simon R. Green Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Drinking Midnight Wine
SF Site Review: The Good, The Bad, And The Uncanny
SF Site Review: From Hell With Love
SF Site Review: Just Another Judgement Day
SF Site Review: Deathstalker
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Coda
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Return
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Return
SF Site Review: Drinking Midnight Wine
SF Site Review: Beyond The Blue Moon
SF Site Interview: Simon R. Green
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Destiny
SF Site Review: Swords of Haven
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Honor
SF Site Review: Twilight of the Empire
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Rebellion

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sarah Trowbridge

Blood and Honor   The kingdom of Redhart faces a succession crisis. Old King Malcolm has died, under ambiguous circumstances which may have involved foul play, and it's unclear which of his three sons is destined to take the throne. According to ancient Redhart tradition, the rightful ruler is the one who can produce the official crown and seal and then survive a blood-oath ritual on the ancient Stone beneath the throne. The trouble is, none of the three princes are exactly king material. Lewis, the eldest, is an earth-magic-wielding warrior with a wicked temper and a tendency to rape and murder the daughters of lesser nobles. Dominic, the youngest, though more scholarly than Lewis, is also ruthlessly ambitious and quite possibly psychotic. The middle son, Viktor, viewed by some to be the least of three evils, is merely a headstrong ladies' man... one who happens to have spent the last four years banished from court for attempting to murder his younger brother over a woman.

Our story opens as a cadre of courtiers from Castle Midnight, Redhart's royal seat, waylay an itinerant actor known as "The Great Jordan" as he's closing down his one-man show for the night in a remote northern village. Jordan, once a highly esteemed and much-sought-after thespian at the top of his profession, has fallen on hard times. The Redhart entourage makes him an offer he finds impossible to refuse: impersonate Prince Viktor at certain mandatory gatherings at Castle Midnight while the real Viktor recovers from a mysterious illness that has rendered him temporarily unfit to participate in public life. In return, Jordan will be paid 10,000 ducats: a sum that blinds the normally circumspect actor to the risks inherent in the proposition.

However, his bedazzlement begins to wear off as soon as he has accepted the job, starting with the unsettling glamour spell he undergoes in order to become an exact physical replica of Viktor, and intensifying when the party arrives at Castle Midnight and Jordan begins to get a true sense of all that is afoot in the royal court. Castle denizens are encountering increasingly frequent outbreaks of the Unreal -- supernatural manifestations ranging from the benignly amusing to the horrifically lethal. The morass of political allegiances, tricky in any royal household, is further complicated by these Unreal encroachments, and by the fact that several among Jordan's new circle of acquaintances are not what they seem. As Castle Midnight heats up and approaches the boiling point, the Great Jordan must make some unexpected choices and draw on heretofore unsuspected resources.

This early work of Simon R. Green, which predates the Deathstalker and Nightside series for which he is more well known, is a rather run-of-the-mill sword-and-sorcery tale. Character development is largely perfunctory, and the straight-ahead progression of the plot seems unnecessarily padded with irrelevant elements thrown in along the way (a spectral dog, a lost ghost boy looking for his mother, etc.). The full-cast treatment and copious use of sound effects punch up the story a good bit, however, and help to hold the listener's interest. Those who enjoy a sort of cinematic blockbuster experience for the ears should appreciate the way the clash of swords, the creak of armor, the clip-clop of horses' hooves and the groans of the wounded combine with swelling music to create an all-encompassing atmosphere for the storytelling. This is GraphicAudio's specialty.

Copyright © 2011 Sarah Trowbridge

Sarah Trowbridge reads (and listens) compulsively, chronically, and eclectically. She is a public librarian in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

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