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.

*Spoilers*

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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