David T. Wilbanks
Acid Grave Press
May 14, 2012, $2.99 (Kindle)
Reviewed by Darkeva
Hellfighter by David T. Wilbanks starts off like a sword & sorcery tale with a warrior, Caddoc, lusting after Geniece, a barmaid. After failing to impress her by pulling down his pants, he has to deal with a group of pissed off soldiers that he gets into a brawl with. Although it was nice to see the violence was a bit more graphic here than standard sword and sorcery fare, it was less fun to witness the Superman effect that most of the subgenre’s leading men have, in which they fight a group of men or creatures with minimal damage to themselves, if any. Still, it’s best not to over-analyze sword and sorcery and just enjoy the ride.
The premise is that there are creatures called “drakuli” attacking towns nearby and the soldiers Caddoc killed were actually sent to protect Taryn, the town in which he now finds himself. The barmaid, Geniece, implores Caddoc to find a wizard named the Collector, who collects souls. From him, Caddoc must steal one small green gem. She promises him her eternal gratitude and love in exchange. Lusty cad that Caddoc is, he agrees.
He finds a boy in an alley who claims he can get Caddoc the gem. He learns from the boy that the Collector keeps his harvested souls in several green gems, including the boy’s grandfather’s soul. Although people have tried to deal with the wizard before, he turned them into soulless humans who act much like zombies, in a perpetual state of sorrow, seeking to be reunited with their souls.
But it turns out there’s more to just getting gems back from the wizard. When Caddoc and the boy return to Taryn, they find it’s been burned and that drakuli passed through. The boy starts to act funny, and it turns out a demon, Krah, has possessed him. Caddoc also picks up an elderly priest, Xar.
Eventually, they find themselves in an alternate dimension in which the primary source of their troubles is the Bitch Queen and her hordes of demonic servants who don’t believe Krah is who he says he is. They do get to the drakuli, and all is revealed in the end.
I haven’t read much in the way of sword and sorcery for years, so it was nice to get back to the sub-genre. If you were all about the Dragonlance books and couldn’t get enough of anything by Terry Brooks, you’ll enjoy Hellfighter.