Book Review: Wake of the Bloody Angel by Alex Bledsoe

Wake of the Bloody Angel by Alex Bledsoe

Book Review by Ian Shone

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765327457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765327451

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As much as the old adage warns against judging a book by its cover, I must admit that I was not expecting to enjoy Wake of The Bloody Angel, since it sports one of the worst front covers you’re ever likely to see. It features a photograph of two bronzed, sword-wielding catalogue models of either sex, dressed in vaguely piratical garb, pouting moodily into the camera lens… one can only hope they’ll fix it for future editions. With my expectations thoroughly lowered, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book was actually quite a lot of fun.

In a nutshell, it’s a fairly straightforward adventure story set in an invented world vaguely resembling the Spanish Main of popular imagination, but with more fashionable profanity and more monsters. The protagonist is Eddie LaCrosse, a wily, middle-aged ‘sword jockey’ who owes more than a little to Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe archetype. His mission is to find a semi-legendary pirate, dead or alive, on behalf of… well, the plot need not be detailed further here. The story is extremely silly and makes very little sense, but that is arguably one of the novel’s strengths. It’s good solid hokum, and it tends to work very well on that level. It refuses to take itself seriously, but it doesn’t indulge in the self-conscious ‘irony’ that plagues many works of this sort. Amidst all the heroics and heaving bosoms there a few funny touches (see Captain Hawk’s eyepatch trick) and a couple of great setups that result in genuine surprises.

This kind of thing is not to everyone’s taste. It’s peppered throughout with some very corny lines, and there were plenty of instances where I found myself stifling a groan. I was usually smiling at the same time. If you guiltily enjoy the likes of Ian Fleming or Robert E. Howard, then there is a good chance you’ll enjoy Wake of the Bloody Angel, and it’s the ideal book to give yourself a break if you have just finished reading something dry and heavy. Enjoyable nonsense, and nicely done.

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