In a semi-magical world of relatively honest pirates and murderous monks, where faith can be unequivocally proved, are blasphemy and hereticism more deserving of condemnation and the status quo more in need of protection? That’s a fairly deep question, and one that The Guns Of Ivrea delves into only peripherally, despite this being the primary motivation behind the fast-paced plot.
Despite raising certain questions around belief, knowledge and justification, author Clifford Beal is far more concerned with wrapping these questions up in a gripping world and compelling characters within The Guns Of Ivrea. And this is no bad thing; his turn of phrase is frequently gripping, with a tighter rein on plot than his characterisations, while the seafaring adventures of our three protagonists are quite absorbingly chaotic.
The Guns Of Ivrea isn’t attempting to be the latest unnecessarily complex and grandiose novel; rather a genuine adventure story to be devoured in a mere handful of sittings. This isn’t to say it’s overly simplistic, however; with its focus drawn away from the popular political power fantasies of late and towards the more emotional effect of these decisions on its citizens, we can see great potential in this thrilling universe.
However, to highlight one of the few negatives, The Guns Of Ivrea does have the occasional regretful lapse into traditional fantasy fan service – busty maidens, sultry mermaids, Sapphic sisters, whores aplenty – made all the more noticeable by the quality of the writing at points other than these.
Every few chapters or so, a new sexy lady will be jarringly displayed for the reader, and while it is certainly not as prevalent as in other similar works, it’s almost more of a disappointment to find it at all in a book that elsewhere delivers an excellently gripping story of thievery, betrayal, piracy, and adventure. This aside, it is a fantastic and satisfying read.