While I’m waiting to be able to announce that the trade and ebook editions of A Wizard’s Henchman are available for order . . .
Back in 2008 at World Fantasy Convention in Calgary, I was in the bar when Erik Mona, publisher of Paizo Books, told me he was a great Jack Vance fan and that he liked my work. He asked me if I had a book for him. As it turned out, I was looking for a publisher for Template, my stand-alone Archonate space opera that had been brought out as limited collector’s editions by PS Publishing.
I sent it to him and he brought it out as part of the series, Planet Stories, which (like Template) were decidedly retro science fiction.
Later, Erik told me that he also published novels set in the Pathfinder RPG universe’s world of Golarion, and asked me if I would be interested in doing one. He also said he would really like it if I would do a Cugel the Clever story. I love the Cugel stories and said I’d be delighted.
So we made a deal and I wrote a novel originally called Out of the Blue that was retitled Song of the Serpent before publication in 2012. It told the tale of a thief named Krunzle the Quick who, like Cugel, is fast on his feet – he has to be because, again like Cugel, he’s not as smart as he thinks he is. Caught trying to rob a plutocrat, he ends up with a magical bronze snake around his neck that chokes him when he tries to deviate from a mission to bring back the rich man’s errant daughter. There are also dwarves, half-orcs, a pack of ne’er do wells running a gold-mining camp with slave labor, and a rather promising young troll named Skanderbrog. The more I wrote about Skanderbrog, the better I got to like him.
Song of the Serpent has not been the most successful of the Pathfinder novel series. I haven’t read any of the others, but I gather that a not very likeable Vancean anti-hero kind of stands out from the crowd. And not in a good way: a lot of head-scratching and two-star reviews on Goodreads.
But readers who are fans of both Vance’s work and mine tell me the book largely satisfies the appetite for a Cugelesque picaresque adventure. But there haven’t been as many of those readers as there might be, because the novel was published under my media tie-in pen name, Hugh Matthews. People who go looking for things I’ve written don’t usually find it.
So I thought I’d mention Song of the Serpent again so that people who might like it can give it a looking over. I don’t expect to make any money from fresh sales, since it will probably never pay out its advance. But I’d like to see Krunzle and Skanderbrog get more attention. I think they deserve it.
And if you really like my troll, Paizo produced an “action figure.”
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