James Reasoner, author of Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West and The Civil War Battle Series, weighs in on John C. Hocking’s newest Archivist tale, published here September 29:
“Vestments of Pestilence” is a new sword-and-sorcery story by John C. Hocking, author of Conan and the Emerald Lotus, and what an absolute joy it is to read… The Archivist and Lucella have returned to civilization only to find themselves immediately drawn into a clash between two members of the royal family, a brother and sister who are bitter rivals and who have tried to kill each other in the recent past. The princess coerces The Archivist and Lucella into helping her get her hands on an artifact from the old Southron civilization that may contain sorcerous power.
Of course, with a street gang, an oily “astrographer,” a sinister tower, and a plague demon in the mix, things don’t really go all that smoothly…
The plot of this story is traditional sword-and-sorcery, but the prose is pure hardboiled action writing of the best sort, reminiscent of, yes, Robert E. Howard… Hocking is that good. There are touches of humor as well, and The Archivist and Lucella are very appealing characters… If you’re a fan of action-packed heroic fantasy, I guarantee you’ll be entertained.
“Vestments of Pestilence” is the second Archivist tale we’ve published, following “A River Through Darkness and Light,” in Black Gate 15, which SF Site called “a strong blend of the old sword and sorcery action and mood, but with modern attention to character development.”
The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, Michael Shea, Ryan Harvey, Peadar Ó Guilín, Vaughn Heppner, Aaron Bradford Starr, Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, E.E. Knight, C.S.E. Cooney, Howard Andrew Jones, and many others, is here.
“Vestments of Pestilence” is a complete 10,000-word novelette of sword & sorcery. Read the complete story here.
Read James’s complete review on his blog Rough Edges. Art for “A River Through Darkness and Light” by Storn Cook.