A Conversation in Blood picks up the story of Egil and Nix, a pair of adventurers who’ve made names for themselves as people you shouldn’t mess with. While they’ve settled down to run a tavern, the “quiet” life definitely doesn’t suit them. As Nix hungers for adventure, he must snap his comrade, Egil, out of a depression that’s leading him down a path of self-ruination.
Think of Egil and Nix as a magical Indiana Jones pair. They travel the land in search of artifacts to plunder, ancient secrets to reveal, and some coin to put in their pockets (though they don’t seem to care much for it). They aren’t necessarily heroes, and have done a number of questionable things, they have a moral compass that sees them saving the day more often than not and looking out for their friends.
Loyal to a fault, the pair’s search for a new adventure finds them in the middle of a massive problem that could alter their world irreparably. This of course, finds them under the scrutiny of wizards, thieves, and being hunted down by an ancient monstrosity. In the effort of keeping the review spoiler free, that’s about as far as I’m going to go into the plot. It features some interesting twists, especially near the end, that will keep you thinking, so it’s best to discover those on your own.
A Fun Story Packed With Goods
For a story that’s basically all about the characters FINDING something to do, A Conversation in Blood manages to craft its own engaging tale, woven throughout with interesting bits of lore for the world and some solid action pieces. This is even more impressive considering that the novel itself isn’t particularly long. It was a quick read, but at the same time felt packed with things going on. There’s never a dull moment throughout the book, adhering to the premise of ensuring each and every word on the page moved the story/characters forward in some meaningful way. If you’ve read any Paul S. Kemp novels before (especially his Star Wars ones), you know this is pretty typical of his style.
He manages to establish the characters and world quickly without excessive exposition. His command of the characters is impressive, managing to convey thoughts, feelings, and story points through dialog and character actions in natural ways. As such, you are both more invested in the characters with each interaction, while feeling like you’ve learned something crucial to moving the story forward.
This aspect, more than the others, makes A Conversation in Blood such a fun read that’s hard to put down once you get started. Egil and Nix are a fun duo to follow around, and while you may not agree with all of their choices, it’s hard to deny the amount of fun you’ll have watching them get in the middle of some nasty business. You feel a strong connection to these guys and can’t help but smile at their banter with one another and how they treat the rest of the world.
While Paul Kemp has produced a pair of Egil and Nix books previously, A Conversation in Blood happens to be my first experience with the duo. As such, my review of the book won’t delve into previous stories and character connections. Initially I was concerned about this fact when Del Rey sent me the preview copy of the book.
Having no experience with the previous novels I feared I’d be lost. I simply didn’t have the time to go back and read the first two before diving into this one. Fortunately, that turns out to be a non-issue as the book works remarkably well as a standalone story.
While there are a few mentions of events that happened in the prior books, they’re presented in a such a way that makes them easy to understand and move on to the new stuff without feeling like you’re missing something. Sure, there are a couple points that may have been enhanced (especially where in-jokes would be concerned), but Conversation in Blood keeps things moving in a forward direction. If you’re like me, and haven’t read the other Egil and Nix books just yet, don’t hesitate to pick up this one; you won’t be left behind. That said, my first outing with this unlikely duo have now made me want to go back and enjoy their prior adventures!