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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Triumffant

Tomorrow (October 1), Dan Abnett's original fiction debut hits the shelves of bookshops across the country. I have been among the privileged few who have already got to read it and you can read my review below...

Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero is Dan Abnett’s long-awaited and much-anticipated original fiction debut. He’s been writing for years, of course (which is patently apparent in Triumff), and is already a multi-million-selling author, but outside of 2000AD, Games Workshop and various other comic-writing and tie-in novelisation gigs, he is still, unbelievably a relative unknown. But all that is about to change with the publication of this truly original work of fiction.

The setting is the present day, only it’s a world very different to our own, the sun never having set on the glories of the first Elizabethan Age. In this alternate reality the Renaissance saw a re-emergence of the Magick Arts and hence the arresting of significant technological development. Against this backdrop of Shakespearean thesps, wily cardinals and duelling noblemen, Sir Rupert Triumff – dandy, drinker and dueller – is catapulted into a revenger’s tragedy’s worth of intrigue as he tries to uncover and put paid to a nefarious and damnably traitorous scheme.

Abnett’s world-building is assured and satisfyingly detailed, although none of this detail ever swamps the plot which moves at a rollicking rate. In fact, it reads like a Blackadder-inspired cinematic blockbuster. As a result, the alternate Elizabethan setting is instantly recognisable, populated with pastiches of historical figures as well as characters that have walked right out of your television set. There’s even a nod to hardcore Warhammer fans. Humour, action and intrigue abound in equal measure, and combine with Abnett’s idiosyncratic clockpunk stylings to create a wholly satisfying read.

To dismiss Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero as a Pratchett clone is to do it a disservice; this is classic Abnett. From the economy of description – which nonetheless conjures a vivid and fascinating backdrop – to the grand set-piece action scenes and frequent, pun-tastic humour – that extends to a scene right out of Bond – it could hardly be anything else.

If you want your buckles well and truly swashed and derring done, you know where to come. Triumff is, in a word, a triumph.

You can pick up a copy of Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero here! (You really should, you know.)

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