Daggers and Steele, or “Inspired by ™”

Given that the first thing I did on Kindle was to load up on all the ‘Garrett, PI’ titles I didn’t have, the system figured out I could use some recommendations. And boy, recommend it did.

Alex P Berg’s Daggers & Steele series. I’m not linking because, well… I know what it’s like, being inspired by someone else’s universe and/or characters. But trying too hard to copy a particular thing specific to another writer… that’s a bit beyond me.

The first novel of the series is $1 till May 13th, so I did buy it. And I will finish it, since it’s actually not that bad per se.

Oh. Sorry. I just realised there may be people out there who have no idea who Garrett is and what I am actually talking about. Well, Garrett, whose first name the readers haven’t been privy to yet (and the series is a few years older than me, IIRC), he’s a private investigator (duh) in a fantasy world, and the author who introduced us to him is Glen Cook.

I have loved Garrett’s adventures since my early teens at least, and to this day I find a lot of stuff to relate to in these books. It all may be a ‘hardboiled detective pastiche’/’fantasy noir’ on the surface, but there are very poignant observations of the psychological and social kind that Garrett makes about the world around him.

And this is what seems to be missing from Mr Berg’s faithful reimagining. Yes he can pull off a similar style – first-person, fast-paced, all quips and slang. Yes he will sprinkle the text with ‘nods’ to the Garrett Files that you have to be blind not to see. But.

The ‘meat’ of the story is where Mr Berg seems to lack. Not just plot. The meaning. The message. Something that separates timeless from fleeting.

Let alone the fact that Cook deftly weaves in his original worldbuilding right away from the first few pages of Sweet Silver Blues. While I have read 32% (thank you, Kindle) of the first Daggers & Steele book, and I have no idea of what the setting is like, other than that some details are very Garrett-y (TunFaire-y? TunFaire’s the city where Garrett lives).

What fantasy subgenre would be so careless with worldbuilding, I have no idea.

But still… I love crime/mystery/detective stories set in fantasy worlds. I much prefer them to find-the-treasure/save-the-world quests that the genre is riddled with. So, if the copycatting were kept down and more thought invested in the not-so-immediately-obvious parts of the whole shebang, I would have probably liked this book much more.

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5 thoughts on “Daggers and Steele, or “Inspired by ™”

  1. Huh. Never heard of this one, but I might check it out. It’s not as if I’m ever going to make much headway in whittling down my To Be Read pile.

    The only detective noir in fantasy series that I’ve ever read, I think, is Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse series, which I quite enjoy, though the first few books had some issues.

    I’ve quite a few detectives in urban fantasy, but that’s a whole different animal.

    1. Have you read Cook’s original? I saw a few reviews by contemporary readers who claimed Garrett was sexist. In a way, it’s true. But not when compared to this Jack Daggers dude.

      And, well, besides Garrett the character having much more style, the actual writing style is as close to a rip-off as it can possibly get. It felt like Mr Berg was trying too hard to come up with Easter eggs (including the famous quip about mornings coming at such an inconvenient time of day).

      So in case you haven’t read the Garrett books yet, I would say you should start with them =)

  2. I’ve been reading a fantasy writer named Raymond E. Feist (middle initial again hahaha), for a number of years. I’ve really enjoyed his one world and it’s characters, but there was one trilogy that he co-wrote with different authors, one of which was more or less a crime/mystery story. It was so bogged down in crap and boring, it was almost more than I could do to complete it.

    1. Isn’t Mr Feist the one with the Midkemia stories? There was that CRPG Betrayal at Krondor that I keep meaning to finish, I think it’s based on these… and nope I haven’t read any actual books yet =) Any title you’d particularly recommend?

      And I’d say that a proper “fantasy noir” story isn’t that easy to do. Usually either one or the other component falters (or even fails).

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