cover image Cold Counsel

Cold Counsel

Chris Sharp., $4.99 e-book (302p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9328-9

The fantastical stories of the birth and childhood of Slud (“Bringer of Troubles”), son of the chief of the Blood Claw Clan of trolls, were legendary. The child himself drove his father to unite the trolls against the other races—before the elves and goblins obliterated all of the trolls save Slud and another calling herself Aunt Agnes, who raised Slud in secret. Now that Slud is an adult and on his own, he plans revenge, moving first against the goblins and their leader, Khan Arok. Along the way Slud gets help from caches Aunt Agnes left behind, a worshipful goblin scout named Dingle, a nearly immortal goblin named Neither-Nor, and various others. There are fun moments in this human-free, Norse-inspired fantasy, primarily those involving Dingle, Neither- Nor, and the canine Wolf King, Luther. Slud himself, though, despite Aunt Agnes thinking that he’s “truly special,” doesn’t quite live up to the prologue’s legends and rarely seems to be more than an especially hardy troll who’s well trained in logistics. Readers who enjoy new versions of old tales may find this novel satisfactory. (Feb.)