Monday, 7 January 2013

Review: The Corpse King by Christopher Kellen

Today my review quest will be taking us down a more sinister path to the realm of the Corpse King.

About the Author:
Christopher Kellen began his career as an independent author with the publication of ELEGY: Book One of the Arbiter Codex in July of 2011, which was shortly followed by the releases of the free short stories Dutiful Daughter and The Corpse King.

In late 2011, the release of Sorcerer’s Code marked his first book which would go on to become an best-seller, and he has been writing furiously ever since. 2012 saw the releases of two new novels and a novelette, following up on the series which began in 2011.

In December 2012, he began a new military science-fiction/space opera series which begins with SINS OF THE FATHER.

A proud member of the Genre Underground, his heroes of literature are those who are fearless in telling stories that truly mean something to their readers. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and monstrous black dog.

The Corpse King The Corpse King
by Christopher Kellen
Self-published, 2011
37 pages
Kindle price: $0.00

The Corpse King is the story of the young arbiter apprentice D'Arden Tal and his master Havox Khaine who are investigating some strange rumours they have heard on their travels; the rumours of a mad king ruling a kingdom of corpses. As it happens these wild tales turn out to be quite true, but the situation is more complicated than that.

The story starts out quite slowly and balances quiet scenes and scenes of action very nicely all the way through. The story contains not only the outer conflict but also an inner conflict of the main character who several times questions the things his kind (the arbiters) does and the way of the world.

Beside the quite intriguing story it is very well written. It contains, in particular, some very good descriptions of the atmosphere. One of my favourite passages is this:

"As they proceeded on, the rank stench of recent death was slowly replaced by the stale musk of old death, and the corpses became less rotten and more skeletal. The sour pit in D'Arden's stomach grew deeper as they went, the cold fingers of anticipation playing up and down his spine." - Kellen, Christopher (2011-09-09). The Corpse King (Tales of Eisengoth) (Kindle Locations 316-320).  . Kindle Edition. 

It is quite a page turner really. I found that on every other page some new exciting thing was mentioned that I instantly wanted to hear more about. I swallowed the whole thing quite fast, but then it is not that long either. It is an easily conquerable story in that sense; short, well written, exciting.

The only thing about it that prevented me from giving it my top rating is that its impact on me was not quite what I think it could have been. I felt like I was watching a very interesting play being acted out in front of me instead of getting the feeling that I was in the play myself. This was partly, I think, because Christopher Kellen does not really go into much depth about the characters, so even though I liked them I did not know them well enough to feel really animated when something happened to them.

This is, however, exactly the kind of introductory short story that would definitely make me want to read the novel in which's(?) universe it is set. From the Amazon description:

"With this novelette, welcome to the world of Eisengoth: a dark fantasy realm ruled by insane gods, and the setting for ELEGY: Book One of the Arbiter Codex. Heroic fantasy for fans of Conan (Robert E. Howard), Kane (Karl Edward Wagner) or Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher (Andrzej Sapkowski) with a Lovecraftian-horror flair."

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