Looking for a good sword-and-sorcery yarn? Look no further than THE COLOSSUS OF MAHRASS, an e-book by R.J. Salter. The fact that “R.J. Salter” is none other than our old buddy Mel Odom should tell you why this is a highly entertaining adventure.
The hero is privateer Jaelik Tarlsson, whose ship Rapier’s Thrust sails the Alpatian Sea, a land-locked body of water that serves as an uneasy boundary between empires in the fantasy world this story inhabits. Jaelik’s problem is that he’s haunted by a ghost. A beautiful female ghost, mind you, but a ghost nonetheless, and she has some sort of mysterious mission she wants him to carry out that involves an ancient wizard, a bloodthirsty warlord, and some extremely dangerous magical weapons. There are swordfights, sea battles, escapes from dungeons, hideous monsters, giants bestriding the earth . . . In other words, everything you need for a story of this sort.
I love heroic fantasy, and I’d read a lot more of it if not for the fact that almost everything published in the genre these days is 800 pages long and is part of an endless series of 800-page-long books. (I exaggerate . . . but not by much.) THE COLOSSUS OF MAHRASS, on the other hand, at a brisk, well-paced 35,000 words or so, reminds me very much of those wonderful Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser novellas by Fritz Leiber that I read with so much enjoyment back in the Sixties. The setting is developed well enough to make sense without going into exhaustive detail, the plot has some nice twists, and there’s plenty of action. Simply put, this is great storytelling and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended.