Chaos Trims My Beard

Chaos Trims My Beard

Write on: Wed, 09 May 2018 by  in SPFBO - ROUND 1 1878 comments Read 44153

CHAOS TRIMS MY BEARD is a noir urban fantasy following the misadventures of Edawyn Sattler. Edawyn is a half-dwarf who, at least, has a beard despite his mixed ancestry and this provides him some magical benefits. Teamed up with a suicidal wind spirit, a talking rat detective, and more oddball characters--he attempts to solve a murderous conspiracy before it ruins his life even worse than it already is.

Edawyn Sattler tried to do the right thing by stopping a rampaging man on fire but it turns out if the rampaging man was a rich man at an elvish party then it's probably just better to leave him alone. I love when good actions have bad consequences and this action more or less ruins Edawyn's life--at least at the start. It gets doubly so when he finds out his "victim" has ties to the police.

The word I would use to describe Chaos Trims My Beard is quirky. It's a book which takes place in a very oddball universe where a talking rat refers to himself as "this one" because he has a thousand siblings so names are all but useless. Ratman is a great character and probably the most believable of the bunch, which is saying something. This isn't to say the universe isn't believable but it's very fantastical and the whole thing has the logic of a story taking place in a dream.

It reminds me a bit of Simon R. Green's Nightside. If you've never read that book series, it's basically a private detective story about a man who goes into a seedy upside down London where everything is possible and everthing exists from mad science to ancient gods. This is a similar feeling as the setting seems halfway in the past, halfway in the future, and another halfway in mythology despite that being three halves.

My favorite plotline in the book was undoubtedly Elara the suicidal elemental. She's a wind spirit who desperately wants to die but can't actually figure out how. Edwayn doesn't actually want to help her kill herself but feels obligated by her misery. It's a powerful plotline even if it touches on some topics which some readers might find uncomfortable despite the ridiculousness. I really loved how she reacted when she found out how Edawyn killed a fire elemental (he used water) after assuming he was some magical genius.

Edawyn is an alright protagonist, being of the Harry Dresden, "a normal guy in an oddball world." I enjoyed the fact he was stereotypically dwarvish about his beard. You need a character to ground you in such a bizarre setting and he did a decent job of doing so. I like it when authors also use fantasy races as stand-ins for real life groups with the elves being the super-rich WASPS, the dwarves being working class joes, and other fantasy people filling in for the diversity of a world with hundreds of subgroups.

My overall opinion? It's okay. The worldbuilding is well-thought out and the characters enjoyable but I was never quite sucked into the story the way I think the book required. It was a little too weird and over-described in places and I didn't think it had a sufficiently strong hook at the start. Still, it's not bad by any stretch of the imagination and fans of this kind of book will probably enjoy it a great deal.


Last modified on Wednesday, 09 May 2018 14:53
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.



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