Fantasy Reivew: ‘Thraxas and the Warrior Monks’ by Martin Scott

“The worst thing about being in jail is the heat.  And the smell.  And you can’t get a beer.  The company’s always bad as well.  There’s plenty wrong with being in jail.” – Thraxas and the Warrior Monks

Another light hearted entry in a series I am enjoying quite a lot.  It is a hot, hot summer in Turai.  Private investigator Thraxas still has a decent amount of cash saved up from his last case, and is therefore content to spend the summer sitting in his favorite bar, eating and drinking beer.  But when a man comes running into his office claiming innocence of killing his mentor, and is just as quickly dragged out by the authorities, Thraxas is back on the case.  Once again aided by Makri, barmaid and former gladiator pit champion, Thraxas is knee deep in the case; murder and stolen things.  Along the way he has run-ins with assassins, politicians, dueling bands of warrior monks, and a girl who talks to dolphins.

For fans of the first Thraxas story, this one is more of the same.  A convoluted story with dueling plot lines that don’t come together until the end is almost a trademark of the author.  Subtle but persistent humor keeps the mood light.  And everything moves forward at almost lightning speed.  It is a bit formulaic, but if you like the formula, it really works well.

A couple of things really made the book work for me.  Thraxas is a very engaging character.  He is still overweight and down on his luck, but is a very competent man in both mind and body.  Even his enemies may mock his position (an unexplained fall from grace is present), but they never underestimate his skills.  The city of Turai has grown through two books into a character of its own.  A fragile truce with orcs hangs over head, the city struggles with a new drug known as dwa, and the religious fundamentalist still hold power but people are starting to push back.  There is some real possibilities for depth in future story lines with the set up Turai is being given, and I really hope future stories make the most of it.  Oh, and Makri was fun as always, an aggressive warrior trying to better herself through education.

The most disappointing piece of this book are the warrior monks themselves.  They really were just mindless caricatures, and were nothing more than adversaries with no depth at all.  The  formulaic story line worked for me because it was enjoyable, but this book didn’t really break new ground from the first book.  As such, I don’t think this is a series I could read one right after another.  And not a complaint here, but people looking for a long novel for their cash should check the page count, this book is very short.

Fans of the first book should like this one.  People looking for something light should be happy.  And fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld may find something worth reading here as well.

4 stars

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