the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for July 2010

 This review was originally published here. And no, my feelings haven’t changed any.

Sandman Slim isn’t so much a novel as it is a revenge genre graphic novel with no pictures – plenty of action, violence, some flirtation, and not much else. A bastard child of The Crow, Constantine, Spawn and Sin City, it’s all the grit and action of a first person shooter adventure video game, with a less intelligent script.

When James Stark was 19 years old, he was a talented magician, in love with the beautiful Alice, and running with the wrong crowd. After a ritual gone horribly wrong (or right?) he ends up in hell. Alive and kicking, but in hell. An obvious novelty, Stark spends the next eleven years as a slave pit warrior, killing monsters left and right, and generally becoming a hellion himself. He eventually finds the magic key that gets him out of hell and back to earth. None of this is really explained, the reader learns of it through Stark’s scattered flashbacks.
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When I first read Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. Successfully passed off as historical fiction, my brain kept telling me I was reading a sword and sorcery fantasy, just with chemisty substituted for sorcery. The illustrations featuring the tall slender Zelikman dressed all in black with long white hair and the plot lines focusing on revenge and violence put me in the mind of an Elric story. After letting the book percolate through my brain for a week or so, I’m concluding the weaknesses in the story can mostly be blamed on my slightly off interpretation.

In Chabon’s afterward, he says the working title of the book was “Jews with Swords”, which is pretty much what this book was, and the prime reason why I had to keep reminding myself it really is loose historical fiction. Taking place in and around the Khazar empire (think modern day Azerbaijan), and for about 100 years around 1000 AD the state religion of the Empire was Judaism. And just like other empires of the day, they were constantly fighting off invaders and neighbors. Put simply, the story follows two Jewish friends, Zelikman and Amram who are soldiers for hire, scholars by choice, and con men for fun and money.
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About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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