Overkill is a fast paced novel introducing Steven Shrewsbury's Gorias LeGaul to new fans in the form of a stand alone prologue. A 700 year old warrior who is known for his prowess on various fields of war and action. Be ye wizard, dragon, fellow warrior, queens or whores on the beach, battlefield, hammock, standing up... in the bushes, on a boat.. OK you get the picture! He is a well-rounded individual to put it very mildly!
With many fantasy stories reaching for epic proportions, there is a tendency to tell so much back story the actual action takes time to get ramped up. Not with this story.
"Nykia opened her door and watched her bodyguard's head roll past. She took one step out into the hall and looked to her right following a trail of blood to where it originated." (page 1)
The story starts off with the beginning tale of a princess who will soon become lost, but not before her love is professed on the back of a horse with the aging warrior Gorias. He comes in with a swoop of his dual swords to rescue the princess! But do not mistaken this for any old fantasy, it is far from it.
Step forward a few years and we have the introduction of Orsen, a well-groomed courtier who the queen has sent to bring Gorias back so she can enlist his help in finding the princess, her grand-daughter Nykia who was apparently kidnapped after he rescued her the first time and to solve the mystery of the murders by dragonfire. Since Gorias killed the last dragon, even wears the skin of a Wyvern as armor, this is baffling to all involved.
Confused? I know I was! But honestly I did not care most of the time. Gorias is a fun character to read, listen to and laugh with. Shrewsbury balanced the humor, action, mercenary behavior and lecherous actions of our hero well. Our warrior is well aware of his age and continually reminds those around him he is not invincible.
As mentioned above we have Orsen who brings equilibrium to Gorias' boisterous and crass personality with his soft court padded life one made more for velvet than chainmail and will face more than things that threaten to stain his tunic, including his lunch. Athena is one of the queens personal guards, and is perhaps my favorite character. Not a frilly little paper doll facade many royals have, and not a black wearing assassin that others have used in the past, but the daughter of a well decorated General who has served the monarchy for generations. She and her sisters guard the queen with their lives till hers end and will continue to serve the crown till they die themselves.
Oh one major note. Shrewsbury knows his weapon use and what it takes to use each one. He did his research and not just with a d20 roll. Even Orsen has been trained in a weapon appropriate for the proper protecting of ones back and kidney's while still maintaining the no blood approach to death, though he does get a bit messy in the end.
This prequel to Thrall steeps you in adventure, action of all kinds and intrigue faster than dragon's fire licking up the side of a priestess eaten away with ruthless revenge. Remember this when you pick it up because you are not going to want to stop. You will feel a bit taken away from reality and wondering at the same time what type of message is trying to be given to you betwixt and between. But I say let it go and move on you will be wondering what is next before it all ends.
There are no gentle magics and romantic flighty princesses in this tale. Even Orsen has his balls drop in the end while we find out just how large Athena's are!
Over all since I need to give this solid number I am going to give it a four. I was fluttering around a mid 3.5 because of my own issues with blending obvious modern religion into my fantasy, but at the end after the mind-boggling surprise (which I really hope are answered in the next book) I am happy to give it a four! Plus I cannot have issues with anyone who is as big of a red-head lover as Gorias is! Thanks Seventh Star Press for another great thrill! Deliverance will come for more than just Gorias, deliverance will come to many within the pages of this book!