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Kultus by Richard Ford

Kultus by Richard Ford
4
Book Name: Kultus
Author: Richard Ford
Publisher(s): Solaris Books
Formatt: Paperback / eBook
Genre(s): Steampunk / Fantasy
Release Date: October 25, 2011

“It’s not A Game Of Thrones,” were the words uttered to me as I received my copy of Kultus by Richard Ford. Now, it turns out that this was a true statement – however, hopefully, I think a better way to discuss this book would be to tell you what it is rather than what it is not – because damned you are in for one hell of a ride once you pick it up!

Kultus“A steam-powered burlesque of brutal demonic action!” as it states on the cover is pretty much a good introduction to what you can expect, but personally I believe to fully understand what waits for you beyond the cover (which is beautiful by the way) you need to know who Thaddeus Blaklok is. In short, he is the kind of guy you don’t want to mess with. He is incredibly intelligent and has demonic powers that give a human about as much chance in a fight with him as if that human were to take on a lion with a steak tied round their neck. His powers come from the tears and tattoos on his skin that form symbols and designs. We don’t actually find out much about Thaddeus’s past, although there are a number of hints along the way that whatever it was he done, it landed him in hell and how he got back is a bit of a mystery.

So, now you know a little about Thaddeus you have probably assumed that he doesn’t work as a cop or a doctor or any other respectable profession. Good on you! He doesn’t. He is your typical mercenary/thug-for-hire and the people who hire him tend to be up to no good. Certainly, this time round, when he is asked to steal a key from a display in his steampunk city you know the demon asking him to retrieve it doesn’t have good intentions in mind. However, Thaddeus isn’t the kind of man who sets about asking questions before taking a job. If you are paying, he’s playing.

So, Thaddeus heads off the location the key is displayed and begins plotting how on Earth he is going to steal it. Obviously, the owner of this key has placed a pretty high value on it and it is therefore well protected. Not only that, whilst in the facility scoping out his intended treasure he spots a number of other questionable characters who also seem to be after the key. Before Thaddeus can move, the key is stolen and rather than a simple museum type theft, he realises that he is going to have to compete against the multitude of cults, demons and even legal agencies who want to steal this key for their own demonic or righteous purposes.

The story moves at a mile a minute…faster perhaps. I think the only negative reviews I’ve read on this book complain about this point. Richard Ford is very, very light on description and world building. Now, go back to my first sentence: “It’s not A Game Of Thrones.” I think, as long as you pick us this book and realise this isn’t a fantasy novel as such, it is a steampunk novel, you will be pleasantly surprised by what the book offers. The chapters are very, very short. Essentially, each chapter of around 10-20 pages (the book is about 280 in total) and each offers a complete section of the story. It might be a fight, it may be the passing of the key to another party, and it may be a bit of investigative work or even a stab in the back by a traitor. The thing is each chapter feels very fresh and offers you something that the one before it didn’t. As a reader, this had me tearing through the book and I wouldn’t be surprised if (like me) a lot of readers finish this in a couple of or even a single sitting.

As I said, there isn’t a great deal of worldbuilding, however, I’m going to actually note this as a strength as well as a weakness. Richard Ford is fairly safe because the cover describes the novels as steampunk therefore, readers instantly know the kind of world Thaddeus lives in – much like when someone tells you ‘x’ is an Arthurian fantasy. As soon as someone tells you that the world the novel is set within is a steam-fuelled city you will hopefully start seeing airships, strange bronze guns and fairly well developed industrial estates. With steampunk becoming so popular in recent years it is likely you’ve experienced these kinds of worlds explained in great detail and probably don’t need it doing again. The only point at which I’d worry would be if this was your first steampunk novel – you may well end up a little disorientated then.

Could I compare this novel to another? Well, it isn’t far off Retribution Falls in terms of pace and characters. I think the characters in Retribution Falls are probably easier to connect to but the pace of Kultus is far more relentless and there is far greater creativity here too. Whilst on the subject of demons I should say that they are very, very well done and Richard paints a very vivid picture – perhaps a little too vivid at a certain point (probably best you read the book to work that one out!).

I’d like to finish up this review by telling you of Richard Ford’s number one strength in Kultus. Richard Ford has a damned impressive voice. By voice, I mean the way the narration comes across. The novel is told in third person limited (i.e. you only know and see what the character the narrator is discussing sees and thinks at that point). However, it is told in a way that it feels that character is narrating their own thoughts and feelings at that time. This means that there is a ton of sarcasm and ‘Oh Shit!’ type moments that will have you laughing along and sneering with the character that is currently narrating. One of the best examples of Richard’s skill in this aspect is when he takes over the narration of a demon. The demons thoughts come across as very evil, very sadistic, animalistic even and it is surely difficult to pull this off.

So, if you are looking for a book and are willing to accept that “It’s not A Game Of Thrones,” I think you will thoroughly enjoy Kultus. It is relentless, it will have you laughing and beneath all that, there is a damned enjoyable plot that will keep you hooked whilst it twists and turns to its destination.

Competition

So, upon hearing I was reviewing Kultus, Richard Ford and Solaris decided to send me over five copies of the novel. Now, I’m guessing that the five novels were not for me to read and enjoy, but rather to give out to the Fantasy-Faction community. How do you win one? All you have to do is answer the following question:

If you could have a tattoo that gave you demonic powers, what would your tattoo be and what demonic power would you have?

Personally, I’d have a dragon that allowed me to fire flames from my hands…but that’s just me!

You can either tweet @FantasyFaction your answer or post it up here in the comments. Good luck! 🙂

Kultus by Richard Ford, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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32 Comments

  1. I would have a tornado shaped vortex, deep blue, w/ internal small stars that allowed me to draw whatever demonic powers I was facing in a battle from my opponent, so that I could turn them on my attacker…!! It would also act as a shield against attacks from ‘dark magics’….. yep, that would do it…oh, and I’m on twitter and follow you there @yanalunas

  2. RSAShark says:

    Hmmm. A tattoo of an eye design that allows me to hear and control peoples thoughts. At least people close to me. With that, I can take over the world! I’ll have it done on my head. I’ll just tell people there’s no tattoo and that will be fine!

  3. @Clara0015 says:

    I’d have a pair of evil eyes and with it I could look in to someone’s eyes and make them do whatever I wanted, ha ha!

  4. @atquilsmercy says:

    I would put a summoning glyff on my hand so I could summon creatures and spirits. 🙂

  5. @sbuddhavarapu says:

    I’d have a dragon, which would allow me to shoot firebolts and fly. Pretty much be a boss.

  6. @Paperlessread says:

    How about a talking tattoo like in Kraken. As for demonic power, it has to be evil like corrupting people’s soul.

  7. @Mark__Lawrence says:

    I’d have a tattoo of a small erasor with the power to remove itself…

  8. I’d have a tattoo of the outline of a man that allowed me to turn invisible. Assassin tattoo!

  9. @Nimpentoad says:

    Morphing tattoo: Griffon to fly, Dragon to breathe fire, One Ring to be invisible, Thor hammer for super strength, etc. 🙂

  10. @BeyondD says:

    I’d put some kind of demonic mask on my face that would give me telekinetic powers.

  11. @JanesGRapevine says:

    it would be of a mute button and would tell me when to keep my mouth shut

  12. @GarethDrake33 says:

    i would have a dragon tattoo and it would make me fly and breath fire

  13. @Grae42 says:

    tattoo of a Celtic tree of life, my power would be mind control

  14. @Zalbagandco says:

    the power to ingest and digest ANYTHING – as long as it can fit inside the tattoo mouth.

  15. @OnceandfutureQV says:

    The tattoo: an animal totem winding in a sleeve up one arm; the power would be to call forth/control any creature depicted.

  16. @Exalts says:

    tattoo of a demon mask; ability to alter people’s perception of me so each person can see a different “me” at the same time!

  17. the_hound says:

    I’d have a tattoo of a dog, and every time I was having a bad day i’d look at my tattoo and it’s cheer me up cos dogs are just so full of enthusiasm and happiness.

  18. Khaldun says:

    I’d get tattoos that run across my shoulders that look like heavy stones falling, they would allow me to increase the strength of gravity as it affects me and save up that anti-grav energy to use as needed (to be able to basically weightless for a cost). I don’t want the powers to be TOO overpowered or anything. =)

  19. Autumn2May Autumn2May says:

    Truthfully? I would want eyes on the back of my head. They would let me see everything in 100′ radius even if it’s not in my line of site. Then I would always know if my kids were getting into trouble…

  20. Deadjck says:

    Either wings tattoos or a feather to give me the power of flight.

  21. @alexspyrou says:

    I’d have a tattoo of a black hole which opened up portals to another universe. I’d either throw my enemies into them never to be seen again, or call great armies of demons through the portal to do battle with anyone who has got on my nerves that day 🙂

  22. Dave Rowe says:

    I would have a tattoo of a pound sign and this would give me the demonic power to refuse £1 million pound bonuses. An amazing super power in my view.

  23. I think we all want a tattoo of a reset button, the demonic power to take back the last “X” minutes of life. I’ve been in certain situations where I wish I could take back what I said or didn’t eat that pizza before going to bed… Come on, you know we all want it.

  24. EDB77 says:

    A tattoo of an hourglass that would stop time and everything around me. I would freeze everything around me and go on one huge Mason-like creepy- crawl.

  25. EDB77 says:

    Ooops! I meant Manson…not the Masons!

  26. Menteroso says:

    I’d have a stylized cat that would allow me to summon hungry kittens to eat my enemies.

  27. Mark says:

    A tattoo of lightening to make me crazy fast

  28. rooney says:

    I would get super brain powers so I could talk to my dog,Ida Mae.

  29. Stig says:

    Definitely a tattoo of Lance Henriksen. It’d loudly narrate everything I did as if it was a mystery thriller.

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