Along my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to not only read the books on the shelves at my local Barnes & Nobles store, or online at Amazon, but to also try self-published, or indie, works as often as I can.
Now, I know several of you are snickering in the background or rolling your eyes at my idiot crusade to bring a few good indie works to light. And, believe me, I understand why you’d do that. Several years into this, I have to admit that I’ve probably stopped reading more indie stories than I’ve finished, but if I don’t share those triumphs and failure, then no one else will know whether these self-published stories are worth investing their time into or not.
This week we will be looking at a grimdark offering which holds nothing back — literally nothing.
Genre: Fantasy -Grimdark
Series: Woes & Hose #1
Publisher: Self Published (May 20, 2016)
Author Information: Website
Length: 376 pages
My Rating: 3 stars
Realistic. Amoral. Violent. Igor Ljubuncic writes grimdark. Having read The Betrayed (The Lost Words #1), I knew exactly the hard hitting, dark story I was getting when I picked up his latest offering, and from the first page, the controlled chaos came at me fast and furious — though the beginning was a bit surprising.
Out of the gate, we find out main character, Prince Dietrich, having an idyllic dream; the setting a peaceful meadow with a gurgling stream and an ewe eating blackberries. Our prince quietly marvels at the beauty of the sheep, drifting closer, attempting not to spook Betty (that is the ewe’s name) as he gently pulls on the strings of his breeches. What Dick (Everyone calls Dietrich “Dick” for numerous reasons.) plans for his encounter with Betty is fairly obvious. Thank God, he wakes up before the dream relationship is fully consummated however.
From this eye-raising opening, the real story begins to progress. It all starts with Dietrich’s father giving him an ultimatum: marry the Duchess of neighboring Sacony or be disowned. Not really a tough decision for our fat, pampered prince who enjoys his meals, his manservants, his feather bed, and the prostitutes who warm it, and so off Dick goes to gather up his bride-to-be and bring her back home for a fairy tale wedding.
Not far away, Eva, daughter of the Lord First Citizen Vincezo of Enissia, is also facing an unwanted wedding, her future husband a man notorious for his mistreatment of his wives. Thus, Eva plans a final act of independence; a night when she will escape her father’s fortress-like home and experience life through the eyes of her friend Nicole, who is a high priced prostitute at The Swan, a house of pleasure.
Fate now intervenes in Dietrich and Eva’s lives, however, as they meet at The Swan. A deadly fight leading to the prince’s hasty departure from the city of Enissia. The unrecognized Eva and her prostitute friend taken as hostages — attractive ones at that. Dick then concocting a plan to hire a mercenary army in a neighboring city, come back to Enissia and conquer it; this daring act sure to impress his father and allow him to escape his unwanted nuptials.
Naturally, back at home, King Ulaf hears of his wayward son’s actions. But instead of viewing Dietrich’s presence with a mercenary army as a sign of his disobedience, the king interprets it as a sign of Dick’s capture by an unknown enemy. This leading him to send troops to rescue the prince. The whole episode infuriating Dietrich’s ambitious sister Wilhelmina, who dreams of seeing Dick disowned or dead and herself installed as the heir to the Kingdom of Monrich.
But that isn’t all. Prince Dietrich’s future father-in-law, the Duke of Savony, also hears of Dick’s mercenary army, seeing it as a clear sigh that the war-like King Ulaf is pretending to want peace while he prepares to invade. This leading to yet another armed force being sent to capture Dick. The table set for the grim and dark things to come.
Now, I know many people do not enjoy grimdark stories. Nothing wrong with that, at all. I personally have been turned off by more than a few. But I found The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich an okay read for several reasons.
First, I was expecting the tale to be all the things that it was. Realistic political backstabbing and violence. Thoughtless actions which harms people. Amoral characters. Selfish motives. Not a single, solitary person to empathize with. And when all these elements arose in the story I wasn’t shocked or appalled by them, since I was prepared for them to happen.
Second, I enjoyed all the shifting perspectives. It was fun seeing the world through Prince Dick’s perverted eyes for a while, then shifting over to Eva or Wilhelmina or someone else. Igor Ljubuncic taking advantage of the different personalities, motives, and viewpoints of each person to fully fuel the conflagration which begins to smoke before igniting in expected (and unexpected) ways.
As for the negatives, I suppose it would be the pessimistic tone and dark humor of the tale as a whole. No, they didn’t bother me, but they did wear on me that everyone was irredeemable pieces of crap. For example, Prince Dietrich never gets much better after that sexual fantasy about the sheep. He is and remains a perverted, unsympathetic man to the end. Sure, he has flashes of decency from time to time, but all I can say is I wouldn’t let him sit my pets or my children. And, honestly, the other viewpoint characters are not much better, merely repulsive in different ways. All of which meant I never became emotional attached to any of these guys.
All in all, Igor Ljubuncic has crafted a fine grimdark with The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich. Filled with gray characters, political machinations, amoral actions, and non-stop twists and turns, it will satisfy most every grimdark lover’s craving. If all those things sound horrible or simply unappealing to you, then I’d suggest you skip this one for something a little lighter in tone.
I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank him for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES GIVEAWAY
Giveaway time again! With thanks to the author, three print copy of The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich is available to all residents of the US and Canada. To enter, all you have to do is visit the Rafflecopter giveaway before 11:59pm Eastern time on Wednesday, August 3, 2016.
The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all personal information will be deleted.
Good luck! And happy reading!