The Hammer and the Blade by Paul S. Kemp – Advance Review [Bane of Kings]

The Hammer and the Blade

Bane of Kings writes an Advance Review of The Hammer and the Blade, published by Angry Robot Books in the UK and the US, and is released worldwide in July 2012, and written by the New York Times Bestselling author Paul S. Kemp.

“An awesome fantasy novel shows that Kemp can work his magic in almost any setting, be it in a galaxy far far away, the Warhammer World or in his own creation. A rollercoaster ride that is not to be missed.” ~The Founding Fields

I was first introduced to Paul S. Kemp ever since I read and enjoyed The Old Republic: Deceived, and when the chance came to read his first novel in an original fantasy setting (he’s previously written in Star Wars, Warhammer Fantasy, and the Wizards of the Coast settings, the latter of which I haven’t read but have ordered, and I think that’s all, correct me if I’m wrong). However, upon reading The Hammer and the Blade, not only did it exceed my expectations, but I had a whole lot of fun reading it. In fact, it’s one of the best fantasy novels that I’ve so far this year, and I’m eagerly awaiting to see what Kemp can bring to the table next (he’s got two new Star Wars novels in progress as well, which is very good), so without further ado, let’s get stuck into this review, after a quick summary of the plot, taken from Angry Robot.

Kill the demon.

Steal the treasure.

Retire to a life of luxury.

Sounds easy when you put it like that.

Unfortunately for Egil and Nix, when the demon they kill has friends in high places, retirement is not an option.

File Under: Fantasy [ Derring Don’t | Hammer Time | Family Affair | Hell Spawn ]

First, let’s talk about the characters, Egil and Nix. They’re a memorable duo that take centre stage, and the book is told from mostly their third person POV. Their charisma is great, and they work well as a team with constant banter to keep you entertained throughout the fantasy novel which, despite its short blurb, is a wonderful journey throughout the original fantasy world created by Kemp, which is in fact the first novel in which he’s done so. The characters themselves come across as believable and they’re easy to root for, and they’re on of my favourite fantasy duos right now, alongside Royce and Hadrian of Michael J. Sullivan’s Riryia Revelations, which was also a fantastic read.

Kemp has created a novel that will have you hooked right from the get go, with a thrilling opening that sets the stage for where the novel will take us, and will drag you in right from the start. You won’t be able to put this book down, and when it’s done, you’ll be left wanting for more. Kemp makes you want to know more about the world in which The Hammer and the Blade is set in, and has done a fantastic display of worldbuilding here, and doesn’t manage to slow down the ferocious pace in which this novel tears along at. There’s never a dull moment.

Although the cover art could, and probably should have been better, The Hammer and the Blade is another one of those books that reinforces the fact that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The novel itself is a whole lot of fun, and there are several amusing parts throughout and it is certainly a refreshing read for any fantasy fan if they’ve just come out of reading A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. Although Kemp’s novel doesn’t have the same amount of depth as Martin’s creation, it doesn’t need to – the novel is a fantastic ride, with there always being something to watch out for as you keep reading, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing as to where the plot’s going to go.

Kemp has created a well thought out novel here that has a wonderful prose, and the battle scenes are entertaining, action-packed and will have you turning pages even quicker in order to find out the result. There aren’t any unbelievable characters in the novel, which makes it a fun and entertaining read, with the characters developing well throughout, complete with an well-planned magic system that is quite original. Fans of Michael J. Sullivan’s The Riryia Revelations novels will love The Hammer and the Blade, even if it is a bit darker and different. If you’ve read Kemp’s previous Star Wars novels and The Forgotten Realms books, check out this link where the author delivers a sales pitch to convince you. That is, if you’re not convinced already by this review, (and Shadowhawk’s, here.)

Verdict: 4.5/5 

More by Paul S. Kemp:  The Old Republic: Deceived,  Crosscurrent, Riptide, Twilight Falling, Dawn of Night, Midnight’s Mask, Shadow’s Witness, Shadowbred, Shadowstorm, Shadowrealm, Godborn.

If you’re a fan of Paul S. Kemp or looking to know more about the author, then stick around because I’ll be having an interview with the author for TFF (my second), on Monday, so we’ll see how that turns out.



Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer