I love getting new books by creators whose work I’ve appreciated in the past and who, on top of things, when I’ve met the creators, they’ve always seemed like good people. I’ve met Michael Alan Nelson several times at conventions and most recently at a Los Angeles comic book industry meet and greet/networking mixer where he gave me a couple copies of his latest work, Valen the Outcast. Another great reason to like the books from Nelson, they were free.
Before we get too far, I want to talk briefly about Hexed, the first book by Nelson that I read and loved. It was so good, when I bought the first couple floppies and had trouble getting the 3rd and 4th issues, I just waited for the hardcover version – and I never get hardcover versions of books. It’s got a hardcore female character that can and often does stand on her own two feet and it’s dark, modern fantasy – go buy and read this book.
And now back to Valen: Having loved Hexed and liking Nelson, I was really wanting to dig his new book – I was optimistic. Here’s the but – it’s good, not great. As a writer, I know that in order to properly tease readers with a new story or concept, you have to provide them with enough for them to relate to the characters or the world or the concept for them to feel connected and want to keep reading but twist enough details to make it your own. Nelson creates a new fantasy world, he twists the details, making it his own but the main character is too much Incredible Hulk and not enough Bruce Banner. The main character is massive and strong, a fallen king, a badass with a sword and a proven leader. But he’s not human enough for me to care about – and it’s not cause he’s undead.
So, will I keep reading? Not the floppies but because I got my teaser for free, because I like Nelson’s other work and because it was at least that interesting, I’ll certainly consider it when I see it in Previews.