Shelves: favorites , reviewed , high-fantasy This is a collection of stories which Zelazny wrote over a period of at least 14 years. As such, the flow of the writing tends to shift somewhat. The earliest stories are the most spare and economical in terms of prose, and also the most lyrically written, being almost poetic at times. While the later stories tend more towards relaxed prose, and greater detail and nuance in the flow of the stories.
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Looking for the fine folks at Black Gate Publishing? Strike instantly if I see the enemy. He would always tell me about whatever book he was reading — often read while he walked the mile and half to my house.
Big cowls and fancy wizardly skullcaps were symbols of greatness. The more absurdly godlike the protagonists were, the better. Even loving those — which I do — it took me another decade to pick up Dilvish, the Damned. Dilvish is heir to both a Human house and an Elvish house, and a heroic warrior of great prowess. The wizard, far stronger than Dilvish knew, turned the half-elf to stone and imprisoned his soul in Hell.
It is only when Portaroy, a town once saved by Dilvish, comes under a new attack, he is freed to return to the mortal world with a metal horse named Black, and a desire to avenge himself on Jelerak. He and his iron horse, Black, are the only survivors of the onslaught of the armies of Lylish, Colonel of the West. On the road to the city of Dilfar, he is beset by increasingly powerful foes seeking to stop him. There are crossbowmen, stars of death, and a man with reputedly impenetrable armor.
Along the way to and from Rahoringhast, from whence he can summon the army, various evils and strange events are encountered. They are much better than their predecessors. There are good things about these stories. The episodic nature of the book gives it a dreamlike quality — things sort of just happen, are dealt with, and then other things happen. Dilvish is a engaging hero. The universe of Dilvish is a far vaguer place than Middle-Earth, let alone ours.
Anything can happen and, as long as the author has another idea, it does. The early Dilvish stories are written in a pseudo-archaic style. In fact, the sequel to this book, The Changing Land, mentions Hodgson on the dedication page. Zelazny seems to have been striving to make the stories read like legendary tales, but the stylization creates an emotional barrier between the reader and the stories.
And though he rode the horse of steel, called Black, still did he not fear an encounter with Lance of the Invincible Armor before he delivered his message. It never feels authentic, and undercuts some of the power these stories should have. They build on the wit, especially the mordant banter between Dilvish and Black, present in the early tales. Zelazny has a greater control of his characters and the storytelling. The faux-archaisms are mostly absent, making the stories read more naturally.
Without losing the dreamlike atmosphere of the early stories, Zelazny makes Dilvish and Black much more concrete, which lends emotional weight to his quest. He brings the secondary characters to life as well, no longer just serving as stock figures to face off against Dilvish.
Clearly, between the first story, written in , and the last, written in , Zelazny had become a much better writer. Zelazny was a worldbuilder of incredible originality and his stories thrum with energy. Sadly, Dilvish, the Damned is not available as an e-book, well in English anyway. Any weaknesses of the early stories are more than overcome by a greater wealth of clever ideas and color than most of the doorstoppers weighing down the fantasy shelves contain in all their endless pages.
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The stories recount his adventures after he escapes Hell two hundred years later, with a handful of Awesome, but Impractical destructive spells and a Sapient Steed named Black, and sets out for revenge on Jelerak. Advertisement: This series provides examples of: Automaton Horses : Justified example, as Black is a demon which has taken the form of a metal horse and requires no sustenance or maintenance. Deal with the Devil : Dilvish had to do one to get out of Hell. Black warns him about this, stating that it is the oldest trick in the book. Escaped from Hell : Dilvish inadvertently interrupted a dark ritual. The sorcerer performing it turned his body to stone and banished his soul to Hell out of annoyance. He got out, but only with help.
Dilvish, the Damned
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