Thrall – Steven Shrewsbury

About the Book
For Gorias La Gaul, Deliverance Will Come…
Set in the mists of ancient times, Thrall tells the story of Gorias La Gaul, an aging warrior who has lived for centuries battling the monstrosities of legend and lore. It is an age when the Nephilum walk the earth, demonic forces hunger to be unleashed, and dragons still soar through the skies… living and undead. On a journey to find one of his own blood, a young man who is caught in the shadow of necromancy, Gorias’ path crosses with familiar enemies, some of whom not even death can hold bound.
Thrall is gritty, dark-edged heroic fantasy in the vein of Robert E. Howard and David Gemmell. It is a maelstrom of hard-hitting action and unpredictable imagery, taking place within an incredibly antediluvian world. In Gorias La Gual, Thrall introduces an iconic new character to the realms of fantasy literature. Thrall invites the reader to go on a perilous journey where it is not a matter of whether one has the courage to die, but whether one has the courage to live.
Author’s Website
Published by Seventh Star Press
Released in November, 2010
Thanks to Seventh Star Press for sending me a review copy of this book.
I received my review copy of Thrall around Christmas time. Because of all these random and exciting (insert eye roll here) health problems, I didn’t get around to reading this book until recently, which is unfortunate. However, as with many books I have put on hold recently, I decided that the author deserved a fair shake at a review and I, at the time, was in no state of mind to be fair and balanced in my reading and reviewing. I’m starting to feel better, so I’m getting to all the books I’ve put on my hold shelf. This was at the top of my list.
Thrall is a short read, clocking in at fewer than 300 pages. This can be a benefit. It’s a lighter fantasy read that is easy to stick between the heavy weights of speculative fiction for an exciting and absorbing vacation from the epic tombs that seem to suck up so much time and effort. Its short size makes it refreshing and easy to read. Its lighter quality makes it a nice break from normal. Its action/adventure and character driven plot will serve to absorb most readers.
While this book is character driven, focusing mostly on the aging-but-legendary Gorias la Gaul, the short length and breakneck pace of the plot actually cuts out a lot of interesting back story and detailed world building that could have bolstered this book quite a bit, if added. However, the character Gorias does shine. He’s interesting, heroic and believable. If his character does get bogged down somewhat in the first chapter with the author’s effort to show just how “badass” Gorias truly is, Thrall quickly recovers and Gorias sets himself into a more natural, if not always likeable, role.
As I mentioned above, there are several interesting hints to past stories and events which, I felt, could have added quite a bit to the book. Furthremore, while the world was interesting and the ideas behind its creation (including many creatures from the Bible like angels and more) kept the world unique and fresh, Thrall could have really benefitted from an additional hundred pages or so of expansion. I did feel rather disconnected from the world overall and the grazing over of past events didn’t help.
This did affect the plot, which at times was rather disjointed and hard to understand. While Gorias does constantly go from one fight to the next, keeping things interesting, it is hard to understand exactly why he’s fighting, or why he’s doing what he’s doing. I have my own ideas, but even now, writing this review, I’m not exactly sure what the motivation was behind everything.
That isn’t to say that Thrall isn’t enjoyable. There is an epic battle toward the end of the book which is very well done, though, as other reviewers have mentioned, not fully explained in the way of rational. Shrewbury does strive to deliver a fun, fast paced novel and, for the most part it works, despite the issues I listed above. His writing is fluid, if a bit choppy at points. Gorias does recover from the slightly annoying first chapter. There is some great dialogue scattered throughout and there is enough unique and imaginative events, creatures and peoples added to this short book to keep even the most jaded interested.
All in all, I enjoyed Thrall for what it was. While this book did have issues with plot and world building, it was highly character driven. Gorias was a great character to follow, and easy to become attached to. The events were interesting, even if I wasn’t fully able to understand why it was all happening. Shrewsbury’s writing style was easy to fall into, despite the fact that it was a bit choppy at times. If this book could have benefitted from some additional plot depth and world building, it was still an enjoyable, light and fun read which left me wanting to read the next installment.
3.5/5 stars

One Responses

  • ediFanoB

    I liked THRALL a bit more than you did.
    Still need to write my review.

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