Ink Mage is not your typical fantasy adventure story. In fact, author Victor Gischler is not your typical fantasy adventure writer. But rest assured, the two have come together into an impressive display of epic storytelling.
Gischler is perhaps best known for his hardnosed mystery crime novels. Nominated for the Edgar Award and a finalist for the Anthony Award, the author knows his way around words. But his recent experiences in writing comics for publishers like Marvel has provided an opportunity for new fans from other genres to enjoy his work. So here we are as Gischler tries his hand at yet another literary favorite, the epic fantasy.
Ink Mage is a unique mixture of fairytale romanticism and the raw sword and sorcery familiar to fans of George R.R. Martin, but at a much faster pace. The story begins with the reader being introduced to the archetypical characters we often tend to find in mythological kingdoms. We have the rebellious teen duchess, her monstrous loyal body guard, the evil authority figure waiting in the wings for the Duke to fall, and of course an intimidating army massing at the front gate?
But this is where convention is thrown out the window and the story changes from once upon a time to holy crap Batman, what just happened. The pages are dripping with the foul language, vivid carnage and nonstop action the loyal fans of Gischler have grown to appreciate. But don’t be fooled by the macabre premise, the author still takes time to create a believable stage for the characters to play on.
The cast may sound familiar, but the rich back-story behind each role is quite different from those of childhood fantasies. Sure the duchess Rina is as spoiled and naïve as one would come to expect, but in no means is she vulnerable thanks to her friend and faithful bodyguard Kork. In just a brief period of time, the reader follows her and many other characters through life changing events as they evolve from traditional fairytale images into the bold heroes and villains more suited for epic fantasy adventures.
By brief period of time, I’m refereeing to the length of the story. This recently released book is part of the “Kindle Series” effort by Amazon.com, so the reader is only being offered a taste of the adventure. After purchasing the first installment of a Kindle Series, all additional installments will gradually become available for your e-reader at no additional charge.
This format reminds me of the old movie theater cliffhanger serials shown in conjunction with feature films back in the 20’s where you had to return every week just to see what happens next. Then again, Gischler’s experience in writing comics may have enhanced his segmentation of storylines to better suit this format. If this first episode is any indication, Ink Mage should hold the reader’s attention and anticipation throughout the entire series (I believe there are eight episodes in all).
Perhaps Ink Mage is too offensive for the 70 year old female reader, but the rest of the fandom of epic fantasy will love it. Yes, it’s scary and gory with lots of slashing and stabbing, but that is to be expected. With Victor Gischler finally dipping his blood drenched quill in the pool of epic fantasy, a fresh horde of fans should be gathering just outside his castle gate anticipating each new installment of the series. They’ll all have to wait with the rest of us to see how it turns out.