So yesterday Paul McNamee posted about a short story by Paul Finch, “Damned Ranker.” I’ve got the anthology it appeared in (somewhere) but haven’t read it. I intended to, but ended up reading something else by Finch. In the conversation Paul and I had in his comments, he mentioned he’d like to see more historical fiction by him.
Which brought me to Darker Ages. It’s a small hardcover collection of two historical fantasy novellas, published in 2004 by Sarob Press. It’s long out of print. I don’t recall where I picked my copy up, but I know it was an intentional purchase. I’d read After Shocks, Finch’s first collection of ghost stories from Ash-Tree Press. (I reviewed a story from his second collection.)
Darker Ages looked especially intriguing, and I’m not sure why I didn’t read it when I bought it, but for some reason I didn’t. The book ended up on a shelf out of the way. I decided to read the first story, “The Blood Month”, which has since been reprinted in Medi-Evil Book 1.
This is a viking story with a surprising depth to it. It opens with King Olaf Haraldsson’s defeat at the Battle of Stiklestad. Finch does a great job describing the battle. His descriptions of combat reminded me a little of Robert E. Howard’s. Continue reading