May 26, 2011

Where the Evil Dwells by Clifford D. Simak

Title:  Where the Evil Dwells
Author:  Clifford D. Simak
Format:  PB
Pages:  249
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Del Rey, 1983
ISBN-13:  978-0345297518
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  "One thing only," said the Knurly Man.  "You must promise that you will not allow that sanctimonious churchman to do any mumbling over me.  Restrain him by force if that is necessary."

Synopsis (Back Cover):  Secretly and in stealth, four puny humans set out to invade the heartland of Evil -- the so-called Empty Lands, filled with every evil creature from the darkest of mankind's myths.

Harcourt went reluctantly to rescue his long-lost and almost forgotten fiancĂ©e.  The Knurly Man, who was somewhat other than quite human, went to find the death that would be kinder than the future he foresaw.  The abbot sought to recapture a fabulous prism in which the soul of a saint had been trapped.  And the girl Yolanda was seeking the answer to a mystery and a question she did not know.

But already their coming and their purpose was known.  The denizens of the Empty Lands were girding for war.  And behind all the Evil lay the most ancient of the dark Powers, waiting patiently for the humans whose souls should set it free.

Review:  This was a fun and original tale, full of great characters, plenty of action, and quite a few laughs.  An unlikelier set of companions I've never seen:  Harcourt, the lord of the manor, Yolanda, the adopted daughter of the miller, Guy, the grumbling Abbot, and the Knurly Man who is not really a human at all.  Some other fun characters are met along the way, my favorite by far being the troll who is looking for a bridge to make his home.  He is supposed to be one of the Evil, but turns out just to be funny and a little pathetic.

I like how the story is set against what seems like an alternate past of our world.  The Romans are there, but then so are trolls, orcs and goblins.  It makes for a good story, especially since the author pokes fun at everything from the church to the Romans to people in general.

The story moved at a brisk pace with just enough description of the events to keep me interested, without being overdone or too wordy.  I really enjoyed this novel and will be looking for more by this author in the future.

Rating:  9 / 10

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