Culture & Criticism Since 2003
The opening line of David Keck’s final installment to his Tales of Durand trilogy is gleefully self-referential: “Kieren the Fox leaned back from the high table. ‘In the old stories, these feasts are always the start of something.’”
The passage provides fair warning to the reader that this perhaps is not your standard sword-and-sorcery fare. Instead, it’s darker than most such worlds. The nights are, as they say, dark and full of a thousand nameless terrors. Accordingly, nightfall in Mornaway isn’t just a minor inconvenience and an excuse to set camp and light fires; at night here, the dead roam, and there are rabbits. Really, the rabbits aren’t any more dangerous than our rabbits, but in this world they strike terror nonetheless.
Durand, who serves as the protagonist in A King In Cobwebs, is sent on a hopeless quest by his liege, a paranoid and confused dotard who wields total power. Additionally, Durand has to chase down the princess, who has escaped her comfortable internment. And things just go downhill from there.
Keck has a unique writing style that relies heavily on impression over exposition, a trait allowing him to make common rabbits a thing of pure dread. All in all, it makes for a good fantasy yarn that sports a dreamlike and emotive quality which is a cornerstone of the fantasy genre.
In the end, A King In Cobwebs provides a good ending to an impressive trilogy.
Bryan Zepp Jamieson was born in Ottawa, Canada and raised in London. He has lived in the Mount Shasta area since 1990, which he regards as the finest place on earth. Jamieson has spent the past 25 years as a graphic layout technician, web designer and writer, with over a thousand essays, a dozen short stories, and two novels – Ice Fall and Snow Fall – to his credit. In addition to his wife of 30-plus years, he normally lives with a dog and several cats, none of whom are impressed by him. Reach him through The Electric Review.