Book Review: The Golden Cord
This is a fantasy novel by Paul Genesse. The book has many of the traditional staples of fantasy, magic, dwarfs and dragons. The setting is a world where all land is on high plateaus surrounded by thick clouds that lead to the underworld. Winged creatures rule the sky and keep the villagers in constant fear. Their entire culture is geared towards surviving against all the areal monsters such as griffons, wryvens and dragons. What the author does really well is getting the reader to be fearful of these air born creatures as well. They’re not just dumb monsters but evil, malicious winged demons that would love nothing more than to come in on you like some sort of T-rex dive bomber. The people of this world live in fear and the author really gives them reason to. The plot involves a hunter from a small human village who is haunted by ghosts of his past…literally. Ghosts are real and affect the characters in concrete but very subtle ways. (one of my favorite scenes is when the ghost of a wryven comes to haunt the characters. Epic.) Two dwarfs (not liked by human folk) come to recruit a guide and our hero volunteers to go with them. The book is basically a dragon hunt but the author makes dragons something truly terrifying. That’s where a lot of fantasy fails; they don’t really show us how frightening a giant, flying, fire breathing monster should be. The characters are all done very well and very believable. I rarely like dwarf characters but Paul Genesse makes them into real people and not just short stereotypes. Despite the fantasy setting, the world is grounded in realism by the attention to the small details that are usually overlooked. The crossbows are hard to string, squeaky hinges, wounds hurt, and even the little things are dangerous. The novel is what I would call “High Fantasy” but its dark, feels real and has weight.