The Troll Hunter by Keith C. Blackmore

April 1, 2013 4 Stars, ebook, Military Fantasy, self published 0

the troll hunter

A warrior with a secret. A band of cutthroats. And a monster of legend.
A morning that no one wanted. Battle rusty from the war infirmaries, a company of Sujins are ordered to march north through a war torn country, guarding a mysterious koch. They are whipped by the murderous Rusk the Two Knife and led by the enigmatic Bloor, the only cavalier to survive the Field of Skulls.

Together, they will march into the unknown, and arrive at the teeth of hell.

And only one man will possess the skills necessary to bring the survivors back.

A tale of heroic fantasy. Some graphic violence and language.

Trolls – mindless, destructive monsters, driven by their hunger and willing to eat any living thing – especially humans. Terrorizing the countryside and any towns they cross, trolls kill and eat all the humans they can. From far and wide, people travel to locate The Troll Hunters – the only men able to track and kill these man-eating beasts. How did these men become Troll Hunters and what motivates them? This is their story.

That little summary above (in bold) is a lot closer to what the book is about than the actual blurb. But even then it really doesn’t tell the reader what the book is about before the reader picks it up. And that is the major problem I had with this book – the description of the book does not give the reader any real clue as to what is going on. A friend recommended this book to me – telling me that it was very like David Eddings (one of my favorite authors).

If I had to try to compare this book or author to anyone I would say that Keith C. Blackmore and The Troll Hunter is a lot closer to Glen Cook and The Black Company. This is Military fantasy without any magic…just a really big and really bad troll. Not an evil troll, just destructive and hungry. So, I really wasn’t expecting Military Fiction…and I’ve been a bit of a moody reader lately. I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. The book is very well written and I did enjoy it…I just wasn’t expecting it.

The Troll Hunter actually starts in medias res. The reader is plopped down in the middle of a military barrack and flung directly into a murderous mutiny. I had no clue what was going on for a quite a while (because I was still expecting some Eddings-like action) but the story is well written enough that I was able to get over that. At its heart, The Troll Hunter is a story of military discipline, treachery, love and tragedy. The reader follows several different characters, the most important being Bloor, Alwan, Morriana, and Two Knife.

Bloor was…a rather complicated uncomplicated man. A military man through and through, Bloor’s dedication to discipline and courtesy felt simple at the beginning of the book – and as time passed Bloor became much more complicated. Some of his inner struggles made me think of the character Druss the Legend by David Gemmell but it also reminded me of The Bhagavad Gita (not entirely, of course, because the Bhagavad Gita honors action for action’s sake without the goal of personal reward).

I had some issues with Princess Morianna’s characterization during the flashback. When the reader first meets Morianna, she’s about 15 years old and a total spoiled bitch. It was a bit ridiculous, to be honest. She acted like someone between the ages of 8-10 instead of 14-15. I would have expected Morianna to be a bitch but she wouldn’t have been tossing around insults like “horseface.” I would have expected her insults to be much more cutting and intelligent.

Alwan felt a lot simpler – he was a killer with few morals and loved it – and although he and Bloor sniped at each throughout the book, they were each other’s best friend. It was a strange relationship, to be honest. Two Knife was also simple character – he’s a killer of his own people. Unfortunately, the reader never learns his true motivation.

As I mentioned earlier in this rambling review, The Troll Hunter is a story of military discipline, treachery, love and tragedy. The military discipline is a major theme that runs through the novel. Bloor is known for being a stickler for military discipline. He performs every duty to the exactness in which he was taught – and he expects all military personnel to do the same. Even after Two Knife and his band of cutthroats’ mutiny, he still expects his Sujins (Army) to behave with the discipline that they were trained with.

The theme of treachery is found on multiple fronts: the king of Sunja completely ignores the tragedies of his people while in the midst of a brutal and decimating war; Two Knife and his Sujins mutiny and commit treason; Bloor and Alwan plot… Spoiler Here. Hover cursor over this sentence to read.

There is a thin thread of love running through the novel as well. Morianna grows from a spoiled bitch to someone who would make a great ruler by learning how to love. Bloor loves his country, he loves being a part of the Cavaliers (Cavalry), and he loves Morianna. There is also a strange connection between Alwan and Bloor that is a strange type of respect, brotherhood and friendship that borders on love.

Tragedy. Gosh, I hate tragedy but it is important to have drama. There is a huge spoiler that can be read when hovering over the next sentence. This is the biggest spoiler that there could possibly ever be for this book. I suggest that you not read/hover over this. But that’s just my opinion.

If you read the spoiler, you know I pretty much hated the ending. This is a pretty long book – it’s about 150,000 words and if you average 250 words per printed page (as in a MMPB) it’s a solid 604 pages – and I wanted a more satisfying payoff. I felt that Bloor got a really shitty deal and with all of the death, destruction and sadness I dealt with while reading this book…I wanted a bit of a happier ending. And if I don’t get a happy ending I wanted some major ass kicking to happen and I didn’t really get that either. The ending felt…rather abrupt after the lengthiness of the rest of the book. There was also a few lingering questions that I had: What happened to Sunja and the war? The reader spends a lot of time on the front lines with Bloor. Why no hint as to the resolution? What about the king? Does he find out what happens?

So. Good book, especially if you like military fantasy. The story is a little…sad, so be prepared. 4 stars!


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