"You might learn to read the river, anticipate its slights.
But by the next season you’ll be the purveyor of a dead language.
Keep your iron close, arandi, for its speech requires no translation."

With this quote the story begins.
It immediately sets the tone of the book.
Extra points go to the author as he manages to blend in regional dialects that might go unnoticed by people unfamiliar with the rural south, but that definitely add to the western vibe which Anthony Lowe captures really well!

The dice tumbled off the deck and plucked the surface of the water as they disappeared forever.
"Damnation," another man said. "That's why you aim for the wall, girl." He slapped the outside of the pilothouse. "The wall."
Trivan Esterhazy sat back against the railing, turned her eyes up to the stars as though she hadn't heard. "Dice are cheap."
"But the fates they play at are not."

Here we learn to know the first protagonist: Trivan Esterhazy.
Travelling on a steamship with paddlewheel on the River Tanzer, she's heading north. Away from violence and back to civilization.
Although it might be a bit more difficult to get fully into the story from the beginning as there isn't much action yet, the languid and ominous atmosphere on the riverboat is depicted masterfully and makes one curious about what's going to happen.

"Why would you bring an iron to the table unloaded?" Kanel asked.
"I've been told I'm a bad drunk and an agreeable shot. Best to not make allies of one's vices, I reckon."
Kanel chuckled. "Your reputation of havin' a grim and off-puttin' sense of humor precedes you."
Evaline returned the bulky revolver to its holster. "Gotta end each day with a smile, you know? Even if it's at someone else's expense."
Trivan decided right then and there she liked this woman.

Enter our other protagonist: Evaline Cartwright, a world-weary bounty hunter.
Her pragmatism and kick-ass character will conquer the hearts of many readers.
Even though lots of people might prefer her character to Trivan's, it must be said that it's the humoristic interaction between these two women that keeps the story interesting all along.
Most of the other readers describe the tone of the book as 'darker than expected'. And it's true that some events may come across as quite dark. However, the humor and banter give a rather light hearted feeling to the whole.

"You're a good friend, Triv.
Better than I deserve, and I hope this adventure is nowhere near its conclusion."

These words are uttered at a certain point by Evaline.
But they could as well have been the reader's who wants to read further about Evaline's and Trivan's adventures.
Luckily this book does not only contain the main novella which leaves you wanting more. Indeed, you can immediately continue with two short stories which are included in the book: The Horse Thieves of Ariasun County and Gunfight at the Thornmount Colossus (runner-up for the 2016 Baen Books Fantasy-Adventure Award).
And if you still want more, there's good news! The sequel A Bad Rune at Angels Deep is out since February 23rd 2021.
If you want to know more about this book and its author, you can read this interesting Q&A with author Anthony Lowe.

Reacties op: Western fantasy

What Was Your Name Downriver? - Anthony Lowe
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