A short while back I saw a request for participants in a fellow author’s virtual book tour. Being a glutton for punishment, as it isn’t like I don’t have ten bazillion things to do, I volunteered. The premise of the book intrigued me. Here’s the summary of the book provided by the author, Steven Shrewsbury:
The Philistines, a mysterious warrior people known now for mainly one man: Goliath.
Goliath. A name grander than even the man himself. You’ve heard of his infamous end at the hands of a shepherd as written in a famous book, but what of the life of the man himself? What book tells his tale?
A warrior among warriors, a son of a god, a living legend. Goliath, the warrior champion of the Philistines. On the battlefield, he runs like a horse, wields killing instruments no normal man may heft, and revels in the fear his presence evokes. Off the field, his will is immutable, his trust invaluable, and his appetites unbearable. Goliath. This man knows no challenge.
But such a reputation will not discourage all men. Scheming rulers and generals, prophetic priests and powerful cults, dauntless warriors looking to make their own legend. Monsters. Gods. For one seemingly unkillable, at the very least, these things can ruin an otherwise pleasant day.
Along with his shield bearer, Abimelech, and soldiers more in awe than they are useful, Goliath will set out on missions for kings, face foul magic users, and walk in the shadows of mysterious halls. History tells us Goliath died at the hands of an Israelite. Goliath may have something to say about that.
Philistine is the first Tale of Goliath, set in the same world as Steven Shrewsbury’s novels such as Overkill and Thrall, and his Blood and Steel: Legends of La Gaul short stories.
The artwork on the cover and inside indeed promise a sword and sorcery story of epic adventures.
The novel opens with a battle scene, which immediately immerses the reader into this world that draws generously on Biblical lands and people, but even those not familiar with such things should be able to follow the tale. Shrewsbery possesses a talent to evoke vivid imagery, which depending on the reader may entice them to continue reading or to stop in chapter one.
I admit to not having read or watched the popular “Game of Thrones”, but from what I’ve heard, fans of that sort of story might enjoy Philistine. Shrewsbury does not hold back or gloss over the blood and gore of battle, or the horrors that marked the religious practices of ancient times.
The main character, Goliath holds views not uncommon for his time, and the novel is primarily populated with male characters. While there are female villains, hidden in the shadows, seducing with magic and blood, the rest of the females in the story are primarily there as whores that often meet violent ends, unless of course they happen to be someone’s mother, in which case they are revered. Considering this is an ancient tale, set in barbaric times, I suppose such depictions are not particularly surprising. Anyone looking for something with a less male-centric may not enjoy the story. That aside, the tale is well-woven and the author demonstrates both talent and imagination in the detail of the plot and unraveling of intrigues.
About the Author: STEVEN L. SHREWSBURY lives, works, and writes in rural Illinois. Over 360 of his short stories have appeared in print or electronic media along with over 100 poems. 9 of his novels have been released, with more on the way. His books run from sword & sorcery (PHILISTINE, OVERKILL, THRALL, BEDLAM UNLEASHED) to historical fantasy (GODFORSAKEN) extreme horror (HAWG, TORMENTOR, STRONGER THAN DEATH) to horror-westerns (HELL BILLY, BAD MAGICK, and the forthcoming LAST MAN SCREAMING).
He loves books, British TV, guns, movies, politics, sports and hanging out with his sons. He’s frequently outdoors, looking for brightness wherever it may hide.