I really enjoyed Dave Gross’ Master of Devils with its nod to Shaw Brother’s martial arts/wuxia movies of the 70s and 80s. The article in which I had read about Master of Devils also mentioned Prince of Wolves as a mix of fantasy-gaming fiction with the old 60s Hammer horror films. That certainly piqued my interest, considering how well Master of Devils tied wuxia and gaming fiction.
I just finished reading Prince of Wolves, and I have to say it delivered as well as Master of Devils. Radovan and his “boss,” Jeggare are in what seems to be an emulation of the Balkans, complete with werewolves and vampires, frightening castles, silent monasteries, and lots of empty, barren land in which to be waylaid. The atmosphere and setting definitely replicate the sense I remember from those few Hammer movies I saw on TV Sunday matinees.
I don’t want to qualify this review with “for gaming fiction,” but I do bring different expectations when reading gaming fiction than what I bring to other fiction. The bar is much lower. That said, both Master of Devils and Prince of Wolves are enjoyable outside of the gaming fiction ghetto. These are fun reads, delivered with technical skill and bravado, bursting with apparent enthusiasm. I was sold on these books as being descendants of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, and that’s the kind of story they deliver – these are swashbuckling tales that provide enormous entertainment.
The only hit against this story is that it follows the same format and structure of the Master of Devils a little too closely. Saying too much would constitute a spoiler, and perhaps even saying just that will tip people off who have read one when they read the other. However, that’s a minor gripe. If this is the structure of the Radovan and Jeggare tales, than that is something I can live with.
I give Prince of Wolves 4.5 silvered daggers out of 5. This is a highly enjoyable, light read that delivers on a great mixture of sword & sorcery and Hammer horror.
You can learn more about Prince of Wolves here.