Jumping into the world of Ritchie Valentine Smith’s on-going fantasy series is no simple thing. Although, that is not to say it’s not easy. Words of Fury is Smith’s second novel (one that can be gotten in slightly more digestible parts as a three part e-book) in his Words of Power series (the first being Words of Power with Words of Darkness and Words of Light to come). Smith imagines what has been called a samurai wonderland, an imagining of Japan slowly growing in conflict with the west’s steampunk mysticism. But the realms of our hero Emmanuel ‘Man’ Kinross is imbued with a magic wholly different from the usual medieval European fair of most fantasy. The city of Jade, the land of Albion, and the Lord of the North confronts our heroes in a multicultural battle were persecuted Christians fight for freedom.
It may seem like a lot to take in, but Smith does an astute job of crafting a narrative any reader can easily dive into. You don’t have to have read Words of Power to enjoy or understand Words of Fury (although, I certainly encourage you to do so). Don’t get me wrong, it would certainly help. But there’s much to be said for a fantasy series where each book can stand alone while still giving you a glimpse into the machinations of the larger world and story.
Also, there is a general dearth of fantasy books written in a setting outside Medieval Europe (although, this is changing and we are getting more and more quality work that is less homogeneous) and addressing the variety of engaging historical dramas there. Smith has done some solid research to enliven his story taking what may seem like something of pure imagination and making it visceral, real.
Smith’s novel has an impressive density but equally moments where it reads almost like biblical psalms, a sort of Tolkein-esque prose reminiscent of The Silmarillion (if I may be so bold). However, that’s not to say the story is overwhelming or overly taxing, yet it does require all of a reader’s attention. Soon however, that attention is rewarded as the Smith’s world envelopes the reader creating that most delightful of sense of lost time in a book. Lovers of fantasy fiction will find in Words of Fury an intricate story already underway beckoning them to join, to follow along.
Ritchie Valentine Smith is a poet, writer of international thrillers, and an award-winning playwright for ‘Rocket Man’ who has become a powerful voice in contemporary fantasy. The author has traveled extensively to write the Words of Power fantasy series, and was in Israel when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. He has also visited Japan, where the story starts. Smith will be at the British Fantasy Society’s Fantasycon Sept. 29th-Oct. 1st, in Peterborough where he’ll launch WORDS OF FURY. He has been involved in SFF since he was a teenager, and was in anthologies with Brian Aldiss, Christopher Priest, Rob Holdstock, Ramsey Campbell, and Keith Roberts. A current member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Smith’s theatre work includes ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Kiss’. He is currently working on a sequence of fantasies, which will be on sale at Fantasycon. For more info, please visit the author’s website at www.ritchievalentinesmith.com