Promolit is a trend deserving its own attention, its own niche, its own format. To be successful it must accomplish two goals: function as a quality, self-contained piece of short fiction and, secondly, convince the reader to buy the companion novel. That's why UBR is using a different rating scale for promolit. The short story will get two “yes” or “no” recommendations, one for the story, and one as a recommendation to try the companion novel.
Underground Book Reviews dives into two promolit short stories this week as part of our Short Fiction Series: Robert Bevan D&D inspired comedy Cave of the Kobolds and the D.E.M. Emrys’s battle tale From Man to Man.
Companion Novel/Series: It Began With Ashes (Wroge Element Series)
Author: D.E.M. Emrys
Length: 39 pages
I almost passed up reviewing From Man to Man. In the crush of submissions I receive every month I initially declined to review it, but kept it on my desktop. I can’t say why, but From Man to Man kept drawing me back. Every once and a while I’d open it, read a few paragraphs and think, “That’s not bad.” Unfortunately, I had a lot of outside distractions pulling me off the story. As the weeks passed by, I kept comparing it to other works I was serious considering for review. Eventually, I admitted to myself I’d been too hasty with From Man to Man, and dove into it.
I’m sure glad I did. There isn’t anything extraordinary or glitzy about this short story. It’s a direct, no frills fantasy story about Draven Reinhardt, a mercenary trying to start all over as a common villager. He’s wants to leave the sword behind, but those around him recognize Draven for what he truly is, even if he denies it. Eventually, he breaks down and takes a job protecting a local tax collector. Battle and mayhem ensue.
I overlooked From Man to Man the first time around for one critical reason – it wasn’t what I expected. I expected typical action-based fantasy, but what I found was character based fantasy. Yes, there is action, well written action. But what makes this 39 page story fascinating is how quickly Emrys breathes life into Draven, making him both sympathetic and believable. I didn’t see anything extraordinary about his fantasy world, perhaps Emrys is saving that for the novels. But after 39 pages, I wanted to know more about Draven, and that’s good enough.
Is From Man to Man worth reading on its own? Yes. Does it make me want to read the companion novel? Yes.
From Man to Man (Wroge Elements) on Amazon
D.E.M Emrys website
Companion Novel/Series: Critical Failures (Caverns and Creatures Series)
Author: Robert Bevan
Publisher: DeadPixel Publications
Length: 24 pages
Cave of the Kobolds didn’t come across my email as a submission. The author found me via Twitter marketing. He didn’t even push his book, I just looked over his profile and found it. Cave had a straightforward and original pitch, so I read the sample. In about two minutes I was laughing. So I read some more. And then I bought it. And then I decided I had to review it.
Nerdy males who grew up since the late 1970’s who played D&D will “get” this book. Otherwise, maybe it won’t resonate with you. This is a story about a group of goofy, likely virginal, teenage boys who get magically sucked into their Dungeons and...ahem...I mean Caverns and Creatures game. They’re even physically transformed into their characters. Well, almost. They still think and talk like their actual selves, and this is the source of most of the humor. In Cave, the party takes on a “level-1” dungeon full of kobolds. Its Keep on the Borderlands (Google it) meets Monty Python (the non-suckie Python) meets Revenge of the Nerds. Battle and hilarity ensue.
Bevan writes some seriously funny stuff, if you understand the role playing sub-culture. If not, you’ll probably scratch your head wonder what’s going on. I knew exactly what was going on and loved it. My only issue was the excessive (way excessive) use of the F-bomb, only because I cannot in good conscious recommend it to younger audiences. And that’s a shame, because I really wanted to. Bevan nails the experience of playing the game until sunrise on a Friday night with your best friends, of getting lost in the characters and the scenario, yet letting the real world bleed through...basically, some of the best times of my life.
Is Cave of the Kobolds worth reading on its own? Yes. Does it make me want to read the companion novel? Yes.
Cave of the Kobolds on Amazon
If you enjoyed these reviews follow Underground Book Reviews on
Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Brian Braden on his blog, Facebook and Twitter
and buy his books, Black Sea Gods or Carson's Love.