Blood of Ambrose
Pyr (416 pp, $15.98, April 2009)
This Crooked Way
Pyr (414 pp, $16.00, October 2009)
Reviewed by Rich Horton
A few years ago Black Gate featured the first published story from James Enge, “Turn Up This Crooked Way” (in BG 8). I admit I regard first stories with skepticism – but despite limited expectations I was entirely delighted, and at the end of the year it made my “Virtual Best of the Year” list. Enge continued to place stories in the pages of Black Gate, all featuring the main character from “Turn Up This Crooked Way,” a rather dour magician named Morlock Ambrosius. Morlock’s reputation is bad, but, perhaps predictably, he is actually on the side of good. There were some hints of a tortured history for him in those initial stories, but little real details about his past.
Now we have two novels from Enge, each also about Morlock. The first, Blood of Ambrose, is more conventionally a novel – though quite episodic in structure – and while Morlock is a major character, he shares the stage with another protagonist. But we are vouchsafed some revelations about Morlock’s back story. As for the second book, This Crooked Way, it is straightforwardly a fix-up of several of the Black Gate stories, as well as some new episodes and linking material. For all that, it does feature an overarching narrative arc, so it ends up working effectively enough as a novel.