David Cook, King Pinch (TSR, 1995)
[originally posted 26Nov2001]
The typical Dungeons and Dragons-related novel has one pace to it: breakneck. I’ve wondered more than once if one of the writing guidelines for new TSR authors is Poe’s old maxim that all novels should be written as if they are to be read in one sitting. (This, of course, is why Poe wrote only one novel.) I’ve read a lot of D&D-themed novels, and very few break that mold. The most recent to cross my desk is David Cook’s King Pinch.
Pinch is a thief of indeterminate birth who leads a band of merry men (and one overly merry woman) down a road of small-time crookery—that is, until a member of Pinch’s past life shows up and takes him and his companions back to Ankhapur, the city of Pinch’s birth, with promises of a nebulous job that will put enough money in their bank accounts to keep them comfortable for life, and threats of their heads on pikes if they don’t come.
The book starts off in an almost leisurely way, with Cook taking some time to develop Pinch’s character before getting into the action. While that’s never a bad thing, it does jar in the greater scheme of things. The pace does pick up as the novel goes on, but I wonder if most series readers who focus on TSR novels won’t abandon this one given its initial slow pace. More fool them, however, because the reader of swords-and-sorcery fantasy will find much to enjoy once it gets going. ***