The Salt Man by Keith Rogers Gordon (ebook review).

To the old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover I might add, don’t judge it by the first few pages. I first looked at ‘The Salt Man’ a few months ago and was put off by the portrayal of the lead character as an earthy rogue, all farts and spittle. He was clearly a criminal and quite an obnoxious one at that. I set it aside for a future date.

On returning, after getting through his encounter with a gang of crooks, he’s trying to cheat, I found great improvement. He meets his friend, Nephram Taine, in a low dive of a bar. Nephram is seeking him out for help with a terrible ancient artefact, one of those items so valuable it ‘leaves a trail of death behind it’ to quote the cover blurb. When they go to Nephram’s office, a monster steals the Salt Man’s face and his memory along with it. Not only can he not remember who he is but no one else can neither. A horrible spell.

The story is set in the Free Isles, a lawless place which makes Tombstone look like Green Town, Illinois. There’s a proper dastardly villain, nicely portrayed, and great descriptions of the rough, dirty urban setting. The plot is good but the best thing here is the prose. Keith Rogers Gordon has a lively way with language, a poet’s way with it, I should say. Here are metaphors from about six pages of it.

‘The word came out in a growl, hard enough to break stones.’

Wolfe’s eyes were scalpels, cold and curious.’

The mountains snarl through the haze with jungle teeth.’

His eyes sang in the key of shame.’

His despair burned a hole in the night.’

If you don’t like clever prose and prefer the ‘Run spot run. See spot run’ school of short declarative sentences then this might not be the book for you. I loved it. One of the good things about it was its brevity. Unlike too many fantasy stories, it wasn’t dragged out to infinite length and, while there’s enough plot for satisfaction, there’s not so much you get bored. The most frustrating thing is that the book leaves you wanting more but Keith Rogers Gordon doesn’t seem to have written anything else and he’s virtually invisible online. Still, this will do for now.

Note that even this one is hard to find. It’s available from the publishers and other retailers but not at the world’s biggest bookseller. Invisible author writes hard to find book. Not the usual story of publishing in our time.

Eamonn Murphy

October 2017

(pub: Alban Lake Publishing, 2016. Price: $ 1.99 (US). Words: 18,770)

check out websites: http://store.albanlake.com/product/salt-man-the/, www.smashwords.com/books/view/677747 and www.books2read.com/u.bapdqa

Eamonn Murphy

Eamonn Murphy reviews books for sfcrowsnest and writes short stories now and then. Website: https://eamonnmurphywriter298729969.wordpress.com/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.