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He Drank, and Saw the Spider by Alex Bledsoe – review
After he fails to save a stranger from being mauled to death by a bear, a young mercenary is saddled with the baby girl the man died to protect. He leaves her with a kindly shepherd family and goes on with his violent life.
Now, sixteen years later, that young mercenary has grown up to become cynical sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse. When his vacation travels bring him back to that same part of the world, he can’t resist trying to discover what has become of the mysterious infant.
He finds that the child, now a lovely young teenager named Isadora, is at the center of complicated web of intrigue involving two feuding kings, a smitten prince, a powerful sorceress, an inhuman monster, and long-buried secrets too shocking to imagine. And once again she needs his help.
They say a spider in your cup will poison you, but only if you see it. Eddie, helped by his smart, resourceful girlfriend Liz, must look through the dregs of the past to find the truth about the present—and risk what might happen if he, too, sees the spider.
What I expected: I expected another Eddie LaCrosse mystery story full of wit and adventure. Once again I read this book without having read the blurb. I rarely read the blurb on books that are written in a series with which I’m already familiar – I don’t really feel the need. And so I read this one on the basis of the author and series alone. I might have been better off had I done so, the description of what the ‘drinking and seeing the spider’ bit meant went completely over my head, ruffling my hair as it whizzed past.
What I got: I got an interesting Eddie LaCrosse mystery, though this one had deep ties to his past so we got a new view of our Eddie and how he came to be the way he is. I also got some interesting science that you do not often see in fantasies.
What I liked: I really liked the actual plot – I also loved that they were ‘on vacation’, another something you do not see often in fantasy books. I naturally liked Eddie himself, he carries the series and is the reason I have kept reading.
What I did not: I thought that Tatterhead felt like he had two distinct personalities, and they came out as the plot needed. This was my biggest issue with the entire story, a character changes character – back and forth – within the story to fit the plot. I do not know if the character was written that way for a specific reason to show some sort of schizophrenic tendency due to prior abuse, but it felt to me that the personality switches were unrealistic.
Cover talk: I have not disliked any of the Eddie LaCrosse covers, but I can say that there was only one that I really liked, which was Dark Jenny. There is not anything specific I can point to as to why they are not my favorites other than there is too much going on in the image. Here the lack of color does not help in emphasizing any elements and makes the cover not as enticing.
Recommendation: Anyone familiar with the Eddie LaCrosse stories and who enjoys them would certainly like this one. The books do work better in order, but each of them can be read as a standalone – there will be only one or two things that might go over a reader’s head from an earlier book, none of which would spoil the plot of the book at hand. Anyone who enjoys a cynical, noir detective story and who does not mind that private eye being placed in a fantasy setting and being called a sword-jockey rather than a private investigator should like this series.
Editor’s note: This book is due to be published 1/14/14.