Del Rey's Impact line introduces a list of titles that have "slipped through the cracks and become buried treasure." The re-release of Tim Powers's The Drawing of the Dark (first published in 1979) is indeed worthy of the imprint. It was his third novel and first foray into the fantasy genre.
It is the year 1529 and Brian Duffy, a soldier of fortune, finds himself in Venice. A late-night confrontation with three brothers over a matter of honor convinces Brian to find greener pastures. After a chance meeting with an old monk named Aurelainus, Brian finds himself hired on to be the bouncer at the famous Herzwesten brewery and inn (formerly a monastery) located in Vienna. During Brian's voyage from Venice to Vienna, he crosses the Dolomite Mountains, only to meet assassins who attack him. Dwarves and creatures Brian knew only from mythology assist him in vanquishing his attackers.
The mythical Fisher King is a central character in The Drawing of the Dark, and cameos by the Roman god Bacchus, the Lady of the Lake, reincarnations of King Arthur and Sigmund from Norse mythology, Merlin, and hosts of soldiers, including Vikings and Swiss mercenaries, add to the otherworldly feel. The legendary heroes are allied against legions of soldiers from the Turkish Ottoman Empire under Suleiman and his wizard Ibrahim, who try to repeat the successes of their 1521 and 1526 invasions of eastern Europe by laying siege to Vienna. But just what is their objective? The city or the beer?
Tim Powers does a great job of tying the historical invasion of eastern Europe by the Turks to a rollicking, fun-filled fantasy, which offers its own reasons for the invasion and a wonderful cast of heroes that ultimately repel the invaders. This is a must-read for Tim Powers fans and for readers who have yet to delve into his rich, wonderful worlds. --Robert Gately
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