Alexey Pehov, translated by Andrew Bromfield
Tor (412 pp, $7.99, mass market edition February 2011)
Reviewed by Matthew David Surridge
Translation enriches a language, bringing in new styles, new influences, new approaches. The phrasing, the way of thinking, native to a given language can often still be found in a text translated into another tongue. Sometimes, even an ordinary story can gain a touch of originality in translation, a kick from unexpected turns of expression.
I don’t know for sure that this is the case with Alexy Pehov’s Shadow Prowler, not speaking Russian myself, but I wouldn’t be much surprised if it were. Pehov has written a fantasy trilogy, with elves and orcs and dwarves and wizards and a quest. Despite a few self-conscious deviations from the norm – elves have fangs, dwarves don’t grow beards – this first book, at least, feels fundamentally like a game of Dungeons & Dragons. The story is even structured around the exploration of an ancient burial ground, Hrad Spein, the Palaces of Bone, filled with traps, magic, and the undead; a quest, naturally, better undertaken by a small party of highly-skilled adventurers rather than a large army.