Book Review: A Handful of Men Series by Dave Duncan

Book Review: A Handful of Men by Dave Duncan
Book Review: A Handful of Men by Dave Duncan

These four books are a sequel to the enormously entertaining “A man of his word” series by Dave Duncan. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I never thought they would be so damn good! Usually sequels and later books tend to bloat, lose the plot, introduce a whole bunch of new characters and become extremely long winded. But “A handful of men” has such a tight plot, such a clear and present danger that there’s no scope for much wandering.

And in my opinion, the writing is tremendously improved. The humor in these books is amazing. A far better fleshing out of character via humor than anything in the previous ones though they showed real promise as well. Inos and Rap, their children, and even Shandie – the new Imperor whom we saw as a child before are extremely well done. Usually I like to categorize stories into “plot driven” and “character driven”. But here we have both in equal measure. Astounding work by Dave Duncan.


The new villain is also the old one from the previous series – the dwarf Zinixo. Apparently even though his magical powers are neutralized, he’s managed to accumulate a huge number of votaries who keep increasing their numbers. And because Rap cut of the supply of magic via the faeries no one can mount a counter attack with sufficient power. So Rap and the few remaining free sorcerers of the world have to organize a resistance.

Some new interesting characters really spice things up. Like Inos and Rap’s kids Kadie and Gath. And a pixie with a crapload of magical faculty called Thaile. Remember Thume from the older books? Apparently it’s a secret refuge for the pixies and they have an entire sorcerous college. Thaile is probably one of the most tragic figures in the entire story.

One thing I love about Dave Duncan is his unpredictability. You think you’re jaded enough to see it all. And suddenly the hero turns out to not be a hero at all. Or the villain suddenly manifests heroic qualities like Olybino’s last stand. And sometimes the characters just drop off the charts in unexpected ways  – like Acopulo getting hooked up unexpectedly with three mermaids. That was a laugh :)

*End of spoilers*

If you’ve read “A man of his word” and are considering the next series, I strongly encourage you to not miss this one. It’s too good to pass up.

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