The tale starts out with Egil and Nix doing a dungeon crawl, set on killing a demon and gaining treasure. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned and they slump off to their newly acquired bar & brothel in a rough part of the neighborhood. Lo and behold, their efforts have gained them stalkers and the kind of fans with demands. They are tasked by a sorcerer to travel with him and his drugged, unconscious sisters to a long-lost temple where the sorcerer plans to free a demon. Egil and Nix weren’t given a choice in the matter and reluctantly go on the quest. Meanwhile, they each start receiving psychic messages from at least one of the sisters, pleas for help.
For 3/4 of this book, I was hooked. I enjoyed the bantering, the adventure, the ridiculous situations the lads ended up in. I even enjoyed despising the bad guy. While the only females in the tale tended to be unconscious maidens in distress, mother figures, or brothel workers, I had hopes the sisters would rise at the end and take some much deserved vengeance into their own hands. After all, they are mindmages. I enjoyed the magic, the near-impossible situation, the backstory that explained what the sorcerer was up to and why.
But then I got to the end. I am still pondering if the author was trying to acknowledge the male-centric world that has dominated Fantasy Fiction for generations by having the main characters acknowledge their own rude & crude behavior towards women; Or was the author finding a new way to be condescending to women?
The sorcerer’s family has for generations had an evil pact with a certain line of demons. Once every 10 years or so, a portal is opened and for one night the demon is allowed to bed (mostly rape) all the child-bearing age females of the family. 9 months later, the demons get the demonic children and the ones that pass for human stay with the sorcerer’s family. The men of the family are also granted ever increasing dark arcane knowledge. I’m OK with all that. Dark, twisted – definitely my thing.
SPOILER ALERT But at the end, Egil and Nix manage to rescue the sisters from being demon raped by knocking out their evil brother sorcerer and, through a magic talisman, changing him into a woman. They then allow the demon to carry off the newly feminized brother to be demon raped and probably impregnated. The ladies are then swept off their feet and carried into a new life by our heroes. My issues? 1) If you have an orifice that can be forcibly penetrated, you can be raped. By changing the brother to a female, the message was that only women can be raped. Dare I say that the message is that men are too strong to be demon raped? 2) Once converted to a female, all his brains fled. Surely he had various traps for an escaped demon in his own stronghold? Where did all his arcane knowledge go? Was his female brain too small to hold it all? 3) Egil and Nix didn’t stop the cycle of violence. In fact, they perpetuated it by giving the demon a viable female to impregnate. 4) The sisters didn’t have any say in their brother’s fate and were then oh so graciously given new lives by the heroes. END SPOILER
So I am not sure I will pick up another Paul Kemp novel. Even several weeks after finishing this book, I am still drawn to Egil and Nix but strongly put off by how Book 1 ended. Maybe with time I will forget and can check out his other books without prejudice.
The Narration: Nick Podehl was a great voice for Nix and Egil. He had this carefree, teasing voice for Nix and this gruff voice for Egil. It was a very good narration.