A Dark Fantasy by Correia and Diamond

 

Illarion Glaskov is a miller’s son in a small farming village in the far north of Kolakolvia. It is so remote the Czar’s tax collectors have not visited it for years, and the Empire has forgotten to levy conscripts from it. That suits Glaskov. He would be the one drafted. He would as soon marry his fiancé Hana, raise a family and run the family mill.

“Servants of War,” a new fantasy novel by Larry Correia and Steve Diamond opens with Glaskov’s dreams being shattered. His village is attacked by demons that kill everyone in it except infants in their cradles and Glaskov. The infants are taken. They disappear. Glaskov escapes because he tricks the demon chasing him into getting its tail stuck in the mill’s turning grindstone. Glaskov then beats it to death before it frees itself.

Glaskov, badly wounded in the fight, survives only because he is rescued by the Witch of the North. One of two goddesses that rule this world, she is also known as Baba Yaga, the Sister of Nature. She is at war with her other surviving sister. She supports Kolalolvia, while her sister supports Almacia. The two nations have been at war for a century.

She also tells Glaskov he is at fault for the attack on his village. Since he did not fill the Czar’s conscription quota the village’s magical protection was withdrawn. She directs him to atone by going to Cosbetsnya, the capital, and joining the Czar’s army.

Glaskov obeys, and is soon a member of the Wall, an elite unit using magically-powered armored suits. He soon discovers that he has become enmeshed in a game being played by the two goddesses (and their dead sister) as well as ambitious men within the Czar’s government.

Correia has written a lot of fantasy and military SF since his arrival in 2007. “Servants of War” is the most unremittingly bleakest novel he has ever written, either solo or in collaboration. The book borrows heavily from Slavic legend for its background, and takes all the dark aspects of Slavic legend while incorporating few of its bright aspects. There is no victory for the good guys, only a holding action.

This does not mean it is bad. It may be among the best stories Correia and Diamond have written.  But it is dark. “Servants of War” is highly recommended for Correia fans, especially those who like his fantasy.

“Servants of War,” by Larry Correia and Steve Diamond,  Baen Books, 2022, 432 pages, $25.00 (Hardcover),  $9.99 (Ebook)

This review was written by Mark Lardas who writes at Ricochet as Seawriter. Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is marklardas.com.

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  1. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Interesting, I started reading the first few chapters and had a hard time getting into it and put it down.  I just did not find it drawing me into the story very well.

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Seawriter: unremittingly bleakest

    Seawriter: Slavic legend

    But one repeats oneself. 😆

    • #2
  3. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Thanks. I was considering it but may stop considering it and just keep ploughing through my recently-acquired Hammer’s Slammers collection. 

    • #3
  4. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Brian Clendinen (View Comment):

    Interesting, I started reading the first few chapters and had a hard time getting into it and put it down. I just did not find it drawing me into the story very well.

    Same here. Usually I am an absolute Correia fanboy. I must have listened to the MHI books and the Hard Magic trilogy dozens of times, not least because of the absolutely masterful performances by Oliver Wyman and Bronson Pinchot. I tried this one on Kindle and couldn’t get past the third chapter. I may take it up again at some point, but not being an adventurous reader, I’m listening to Hard Magic again. I know every word of it but this won’t be the last time I visit that world and those folks.

    • #4
  5. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Thanks for the review! It sounds very interesting. For readers who enjoyed Monster Hunter Inc and maybe some of his other works, what was stopping you from completing this book?  

    • #5
  6. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    Thanks for the review! It sounds very interesting. For readers who enjoyed Monster Hunter Inc and maybe some of his other works, what was stopping you from completing this book?

    I suspect it is because it starts slowly and is very dark. 

    • #6
  7. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Don’t take my experience as representative. I have weird reading habits. I hesitate to try a new book, and much prefer to re-read an old book that is on my list of favorites. Just a coward, essentially.

    • #7
  8. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Don’t take my experience as representative. I have weird reading habits. I hesitate to try a new book, and much prefer to re-read an old book that is on my list of favorites. Just a coward, essentially.

    I rarely go back to old books even though I now save a few neat pages on kindle but I decided to give the first MH Inc book a re-read. I do like Correia but I came to him looking for something specific. I may give him a try but I’m not entirely in the market for a fantasy book. I feel bad because Correia is really entertaining and thoughtful both in his books and on his website but it is something that I will consider where the priority is before buying. I do want to consider reading  some more buy him though. 

    • #8
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