Dec 11, 2015: I’m not apologising for the title.
The Zombie Knight is well worth your time. It’s funny, captivating, genuinely unique, and actually quite charming, inasmuch a piece of writing can be. Go read it.
Still here? Okay, then.
Hector Goffe wouldn’t fit your typical idea of a hero. Quiet . . . withdrawn . . . socially-awkward to an extreme . . . dead. So it’s a bit of a surprise when, after his death, he’s approached by a grim reaper named Garovel, who wants him to help people. And he wants to do this by giving Hector superpowers. In the world of the Zombie Knight, reapers can pick a single ‘servant’, someone they can bring back from the dead to interact with the living world, and can’t be killed. The magic seems simple enough at first, but more and more nuance is detailed later on, a trickle of information that’s always perfectly paced to keep you wanting more.
The same could be said of the story. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be ‘escalation’. Hector and Garovel continually find themselves in bigger, more dangerous situations, and you could never pinpoint any transition between them. Every step seems like a perfectly logical one, until you eventually look back and realise that you’re halfway up a mountain named ‘awesome’. I know the word’s overused, but really, it’s the only way to describe the fight scenes. They are, quite literally, worthy of awe; creative, gripping and tense. Oh, and gory as hell. Servants can regenerate from literally nothing, so expect plenty of impalement, disembowelment, decapitation and amputation. It’s not gratuitous, and it’s actually pretty hilarious at times, fitting with the rest of the story. It may be personal preference, but I laughed out loud frequently while reading, sometimes to the point where I had to stop reading until I recovered. It’s possible that Garovel the reaper may be my favorite character from anything, ever. Hector’s not slouch himself, and all the (many, many) characters get their moment in the spotlight.
The world-building is handled just as well as the fights, and if there’s a story bible that exists outside the author’s head, I would kill to read it, because he seems to have every single detail of the world worked out, language, history, politics, genealogy, all of it. The story seems to be set on our Earth in the beginning, set in the city of Brighton, but once the scale expands, it becomes pretty clear that it’s a whole ‘nother world entirely.
Now, the one criticism. Generally, the pacing has been excellent, and it’s recently begun picking up again, but the story has started to drag in the more recent oaths. Personally, it felt like the lack of a clear Myth Arc was beginning to hurt the story, as it just felt like stuff was just sort of . . . happening. It’s a fairly minor quibble overall, and I still enjoyed reading the arcs.
The Zombie Knight is probably one of my favourite pieces of literature, period, and it has the advantage of being still ongoing. You will not regret reading it in the slightest.