"By the Nails of the Warpriest" Book Review
Written by Nik Korpon
2011, 66 pages, Fiction
Released on September 18th, 2011
For normal people, discovering a great author they were unfamiliar with is something to be happy about. For a book freak like me, however, finding out about a good writer that somehow slipped through your radar can lead to unhealthy thoughts. I just read Nik Korpon's By the Nails of the Warpriest and the fact that no one had the decency to turn me on to his work makes me want to punch someone in the throat. Korpon's prose is a mixture of in-your-face violence and emotional grittiness delivered in the quickest, most direct way possible, and this book is a perfect example of that.
By the Nails of the Warpriest tells the story of an unnamed man who works stealing memories from the elderly. In a bleak, post-apocalyptic world, reminiscences of life in The City before The Struggle are very valuable and memory-junkies abound. The man's own memories are not the best ones as his wife and son were killed during The Struggle. Or at least that's what he thought. When he finds a memory that suggests his family wasn't killed in a riot, that someone lied to him and that his son might still be alive, he sets out to find his boy and get some answers. What follows is a very dark and vengeance-infused account of a man's emotional journey in search of a past that is nothing like the one he yearns for.
Korpon's writing is tough as nails, as rough and jagged as the city he describes. The author pulls no punches and the main character's suffering is almost palpable. Also, the violence, of which there is plenty, always feels justified and is never gratuitous. Besides being a very noir story with a post-apocalyptic flair, the narrative is also packed with political and religious undertones that offer a bit of a critique while giving the novella considerable depth.
One thing that really stands out about Korpon's writing is the way it's simultaneously stripped-down and elegant. He obviously has writing chops and chose to focus them on the important elements of the story: the feelings, thoughts, and actions of the main character. The remaining elements are all in place, but instead of complicating the plot with unnecessary names or convoluted descriptions, the background becomes The City, the thief's superior is The Boss, and the mayhem that lead to a crumpled world is The Struggle. This approach, rich in some areas and simple where it needs to be, makes By the Nails of the Warpriest one of those novellas you sit down to read and don't get back up until it's over.
If you're not reading Korpon, you're missing out.