Nightlife by Rob Thurman

This week, I finished reading Rob Thurman’s Nightlife, book one of the Cal Leandros series. It is one of many in the avalanche of urban fantasy novels in the last couple years. Being a big fan of Jim Butcher, I have been branching out to similar authors. What I found in Nightlife was interesting, but far from spectacular.

The book is mainly written from the point of view of Caliban (Cal) Leandros, who is a pretty un-endearing, forgettable individual. I think the author really enjoyed being able to write cuss words because “that’s what those teenagers say these days.” He is supposed to come across as a clever, witty, wiseass. Instead, he became a character in a book I set aside for over a month. Horribly, terribly, unoriginal. His brother, Niko, is a more appealing character, although he plays second fiddle throughout the book. Despite the Cal character being a flop, Thurman’s re-imagining of the faerie tale world is quite interesting. The Thurman “elf” (a mispronunciation of “Auphe”) is a wicked, nasty creature of pure evil. They make passable boogeymen, although their nastiness is never really demonstrated, just hinted around at. The Thurman “troll” is really intriguing, with the ability to absorb others into its massive tentacled form. Satyrs make an appearance, as do boggles. The vampires are barely explored, but the werewolves felt a bit “off”. Overall, the fantasy world itself is different and intriguing. I much prefer Kim Harrison’s fantasy world from the Hollows, but this is passable.

The plot is not bad, if not cliched. The big bad guys want to destroy humanity, and the good guys don’t want that. Typical, but pulled off in an acceptable manner. The biggest problem is the Cal character is lousy. There is no empathy for him, he’s not amusing, he acts like a twelve-year-old with a pistol, and he is uninspired. Everytime he goes into another one of his long tirades about life, I find myself going on a long sleep.

Overall, I think the book showed a lot of promise. I would be curious to see how the later books (this was Thurman’s first) develop the character. For a first novel, it is a good attempt and shows some creativity. I would like to see characters that hook me into the story. Honestly, by the end of the book, I didn’t care if Cal made it or not. In fact, at times I rooted for the bad guys, because it would finally end.

In the end, I put this particular work on the B-list of urban fantasy. It is an okay story with some very neat twists on myth and legend, but character development needs a lot of work. I’m willing to read one more and see if Thurman was able to fully come into his potential.


Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 90

Game summary for July 1, 2008; present characters included Eolas Windmaster (moon elf duskblade), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/ring sage/warmage), Mael Gabrian (human cleric), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), Ranulph Wathbater (human berserker/fighter/hellreaver/paladin of freedom/rogue), Saedd West (human fighter/pious templar/wormhunter), Syvarius Strongbow (moon elf archer-ranger/peerless archer), and Taravin Truesilver (human divine crusader/gray guard/paladin of honor/pious templar).

The Mercenaries attempted to use Saedd’s instant fortress to rest within the complex. It worked for a while until they were attacked by a horned devil that slipped inside. The fiend killed Morak in his sleep, terrified Syvarius, and injured Mael and scared him so badly he could only roll down the stairs and babble, “It killed Mael! It killed Mael!”, much to the confusion of his allies. When he recovered his wits, he then told them the devil had killed Morak.

The team rushed up to that floor and viciously embattled the devil. It fought valiantly, but it was unable to withstand the onslaught. It was soon beaten unconscious, though regenerating. The team quickly dragged it into a prismatic sphere, which killed it. The team then locked themselves back in the fortress and continued their rest.

When the Mercenaries emerged, they immediately proceeded to the mirror wall and used wind walk to go through the crack. Once through, Morak dismissed the spell. Within, they found a treasure trove of items and a pair of devils, another horned and a pit fiend! Battle was joined immediately, with the devils dropping fireballs and swinging massive chains. Although extraordinarily dangerous, the Mercenaries were able to swarm the devils and beat them unconscious quickly. The horned devil was blasted into oblivion with a destruction, and the pit fiend was trapped within a magic circle against evil.

After ransacking the room, they found an item Lyrin recognized from lore, the dreaded Baalphegor’s Grace. He realized this was what controlled the Blessed Angels in the city of Mintarn. He also remembered it was extremely dangerous to use. They made a deal with the pit fiend to exchange its freedom from the circle for the answer to three questions. Both parties agreed not to attack each other as well. True to its word, the devil answered their questions. The first, who does it work for, it indicated it was bound by Lashonna. Second, what is the source of the negative energy, it replied the Unlife Vortex. And finally, in answer on how to use Baalphegor’s Grace, it told them to drink it. The devil then teleported to parts unknown.

Armed with new knowledge, the party now seeks the Unlife Vortex in their quest to destroy Kyuss.