I’ve made no secret of my lack of interest in most of the bloated, angst-ridden, pretentious, politically correct books that traditional publishers consider science fiction these days. Give me space Vikings, star pirates, cybernetic swords and plasma pistols, and stories that are epic in scope but still move like the solar wind. And that’s exactly what David Hardy delivers in his new novel, THREE BLACK DEEDS.
Set in the far future when humankind has spread out through the galaxy, this novel begins with two princes on a world heavily influenced by Scandinavian culture. One winds up dead, tragically, while the other is forced to flee and becomes an outlaw. His adventures eventually take him to a world where he settles down and rises to become a king, only to find that a pirate’s life had a lot less complications and emotional turmoil.
Part of the way through this book, Hardy springs a surprise I didn’t see coming and the direction of the plot changes somewhat but remains full of action and drama. The dominant character is actually the sword known as Tyrving, endowed with an artificial intelligence and a grim destiny, but the human protagonists are interesting and well-written, too. There’s some Robert E. Howard influence in this book, plus some Poul Anderson and Leigh Brackett from the era when they were writing for the pulp PLANET STORIES, plus some Norse mythology. Hardy blends it all together with his own excellent sense of storytelling and spins a fine yarn full of action and color. I really enjoyed THREE BLACK DEEDS, and if you’re a fan of classic-style space opera, I give it a high recommendation.