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A Conversation in Blood
by Paul S. Kemp
Del Rey, $27.00, 261pp
Published: January 2017

Boy, does this series take me back…Fafrd and the Grey Mouser.  I miss those guys.  But having Egil and Nix goes a long way to filling that niche.  I’ve always loved the sly, scheming, yet adorable rogue character (Han Solo!)  This is my first Egil and Nix story but I found the story to stand quite well on its own.

Egil and Nix have been lounging around in their very own brothel/bar but Nix is worried.  Egil doesn’t seem to be happy with their lot.  He’s more reticent than usual and drinking a ….lot.  Nix finally figures out that Egil needs purpose.  So he promises an adventure.  With no prospects in sight, Nix decides to rummage through his belongings for some mysterious gold plates for which he never divined a purpose. He and Egil take the plates to a local wizard for advice.  Everything goes downhill after the wizard demands they hand over the plates and when they refuse, he attacks. With a powerful wizard sending everything in his arsenal after the boys, they have little choice but to find a refuge where Nix can find some solitude to study the plates and figure out why they are so important.  The only refuge they can think of that would protect them from the wizard’s divination, is a special sealed room in the Thieves’ Guild – not a place where they would be particularly welcome.  Before they leave the tavern, an old acquaintance appears – Jyme – who wants to make amends for past betrayals.  They leave Jyme to protect the tavern and the girls.  Nix’s plan is to break into the Wizard’s Conclave – an immense library – to find answers.  Also not a place where he would be welcome having been expelled from there earlier.

Unknown to the boys, they are being pursued by a monster who can sense the plates and will not let anything or anyone come between itself and obtaining those plates. 

It sounds like a pretty simple plot and on one level it is.  But Kemp has something pretty convoluted in mind.   The prologue gives a hint but only just that.  Nix has to ‘splain it to us and Jyme – so that Jyme can save the world.  Something he’s always wanted to do…  The only question is whether it’s even possible and if it is…will it stick?

It was fun.  For newer readers who may never get the opportunity to meet Fafrd and the Grey Mouser, this should amuse anyone.  And with two earlier novels and, obviously, more to come – the fun isn’t ending anytime soon.   ~~  Catherine Book

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