________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 12 . . . . February 6, 2009

cover The Hounds of Ash and Other Tales of Fool Wolf.

Greg Keyes.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2008.
192 pp, pbk., $13.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-09-8.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4


“Well. Now we’re in trouble,” Chugaachik observed a little later, her voice a cat’s tongue licking someplace inside Fool Wolf’s ear. He smelled musk and blood, and his heart twitched, wrapped around dark, naked limbs and a hyena smile.

“Maybe not,” Fool Wolf replied, finishing his wine. “After all, I didn’t kill anyone, and I never intended to. I just took her money.”

“Pretty Lady. We could have had fun with her.”

“Shut up.”

“Anyway, I’m sure that taking the money – even just the first half – is what’s important. What will get you killed.”



He left the inn warily.

The Crab Woman was on the docks, and even in the afternoon, it was a busy place. It always had been. Nhol was situated on the lower course of the waterway simply known as “The River.” It was the hub of a trade network that ran thousands of leagues in every direction, from the corrupt and distant southern cities Lhe and Rumq Qaj to the dark forests and plains of the savage north, where his own people, the horse-loving Mang roamed.

The Hounds of Ash and Other Tales of Fool Wolf is a collection of short stories about Fool Wolf, a barbarian in the tradition of such literary fantasy figures as Conan and other fierce wanderers from northern wastelands. Fool Wolf is somewhat different in that he is described by his father’s ghost as “lazy,” and he is inhabited by an evil goddess, Chuggachik, who creates mayhem whenever she is let out. Fool Wolf is also a liar and a cheat. The short stories follow in a chronological order and provide a full-length novel format of Fool Wolf’s misadventures. The stories have appeared elsewhere before being gathered into this collection.

     There are six short stories in the collection, the last three, parts one, two, three, comprise a single tale. In the first story, “Wakes the Narrow Forest,” Fool Wolf follows the ghost of his father and goes in search of a giant to combat. In the second story, “The Skin Witch,” Fool Wolf travels to the city of Nhol where he is sent by a witch to visit a man called Lepp Gaz. Fool Wolf is searching for someone to remove his troublesome goddess. Lepp Gaz wants to extract the goddess for his own purposes while professional assassins seek to kill Fool Wolf for upsetting the local criminal element. “The Fallen God” is a tale where Fool Wolf wakes in the clutches of a priest who is draining Fool Wolf’s blood to feed the gods. In this adventure, Fool Wolf meets up with Uzhdon, the Opal of Nah, a warrior excessively pure of heart. The next adventure is “The Python King’s Treasure” wherein Fool Wolf, fleeing after being caught cheating at gambling, hides in the home of a murdered man, and this act results in a case of mistaken identity. He is sent on a mission to a dangerous enchanted island without any knowledge of what he is supposed to be doing there.

     The last three chapters are comprised of “The Hounds of Ash,” a story divided into three parts: Part 1: The Sleeping Tide, Part 2: The Opal of Nah, and Part 3: The Hounds of Ash. Some of the characters met in earlier tales reappear as Fool Wolf tangles with a collection of gods and goddesses all seeking their own advantage.

     The Hounds of Ash and Other Tales of Fool Wolf will appeal to lovers of this fantasy sub-genre and readers who enjoy such tales straight up or with tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. At times, the stories have the feel of folklore or the trickster-type character. Points given for some originality.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer’s groups and writer’s workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

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