REVIEW: A Book of Blades

Last Updated on February 12, 2024

If you need a fix of sword and sorcery action, look no further than A Book of Blades, the new short story anthology from the gang at Rogues in the House Podcast.

A Book of BladesRogues in the House is named after one of the original Conan the Barbarian stories, published by Robert E. Howard in 1934. Howard’s unequalled legacy in the sword and sorcery subgenre is vibrantly displayed in A Book of Blades, with fifteen stories contributed by sixteen authors.

The list of authors includes established greats such as contemporary Conan author John C. Hocking, dark fantasy novelist John R. Fultz, and Howard Andrew Jones, author of The Chronicles of Sword and Sand series. A Book of Blades also features a bevy of emerging voices in the sword and sorcery subgenre.

A Book of Blades kicks off with “By the Sword,” John C. Hocking’s action-packed story of personal vengeance that will leave your heart racing. The mood darkens further in the next story, “Ghost Song” by Chuck Clark, which begins with a ghoulish scream and will prove to be a highlight for grimdark lovers.

One of my favorite stories in the anthology is “How They Fall” by Angeline B. Adams and Remco van Straten, the sole co-authored story in A Book of Blades. At only four pages, “How They Fall” is also the shortest story in the anthology, but these four pages pack a big emotional punch.

Another favorite is “Embracing Ember” by S.E. Lindberg, which is perhaps the most grimdark story in A Book of Blades. “Embracing Ember” connects to Lindberg’s Lords of Dyscrasia series and tells the story of a necromancer’s gore-filled struggles to raise his golem daughters.

I’d also like to mention “The City of the Screaming Pillars,” Cora Buhlert’s quest story of four travelers seeking long-lost treasure in an abandoned city in the middle of the desert. “The City of the Screaming Pillars” starts off as a standard quest story but then dives into much darker Lovecraftian territory.

As a special treat, the end of the book features a showcase of artwork from several artists, including Morgan King, director of the animated dark fantasy horror film, The Spine of the Night, and Sara Frazetta, granddaughter of the famed fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. Sara is also the founder of Frazetta Girls, a family initiative dedicated to maintaining the legacy of her pioneering grandfather.

A Book of Blades is a romp for sword and sorcery fans, a delightful mélange of classic quests, fast-paced action, weird horror, and even a touch of humor.

4.5/5

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John Mauro

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.