Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Black City Saint by Richard A Knaak

Black City Saint by Richard A Knaak is an urban fantasy novel set in the days of Prohibition and Al Capone. Its magic system is much like Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. Angels and saints co-exist and do battle with the forces of evil and chaos as represented by the magical realm of faerie ruled by Oberon and Titania. Of course, Chicago is the setting.
I wasn’t sure if Oberon had told him I was a Roman or if Doolin just thought I was Italian since my skin was swarthier than his pasty flesh. It was possible he even believed I was part of the South Side gang. Whatever the case, his assumption seemed to fuel his attack, making me wonder about his past history with Capone’s boys.
The book sticks to the noir style, warts and all. I was reminded that film-noir was created as a low budget film style. Budget writing, acting and special effects. The racial stereotyping seems pretty accurate for the period. Irish, Italian, Mexican, and black all get the old-style treatment.
Eye can give you wings . . .
Aware of what that offered entailed, I said nothing. There were worse things than endless servitude to the Gate, and believing the dragon was at all a thing I could trust with my life and my soul was one of them.
How does that last sentence parse for you? I found the writing a awkward in places. I guess it helped that the protagonist was so taciturn.

Problems arise and and are solved with little to no organic development. The characters remain invariant through the course of the story. It didn't help that the characters had no interesting quirks or habits to give them color.

Both Nick and the dragon have been around for 1600 years and yet seem pretty naive and clumsy. You'd think Nick would be a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Bruce Lee by now. Unfortunately strict adherence to the genre requires that he miss the obvious and constantly get knocked out cold.
I wondered what else had been altered just by that one card. I suspected I’d find out before too long.
And I suspected that at least something caused by that alteration would come back to haunt me and maybe offer the dragon another chance to free himself again . . . even if more than a city burned next time...
Teaser for more books? I hope not.

Knaak may be more of a pure fantasy expert. Maybe I should try some of his other works. The story was okay as an exercise in genre but the characters were flat and the period color work was stilted.

Finished 12/08/2016 5:27 AM