by Willam Meikle
Publisher: Ghostwriter Publications, 2010
(This review is based on the Kindle edition)
William Meikle has been hauling his trusty pen round the backwaters of the horror scene for years. His unashamedly pulp style is refreshing and with it he has already dabbled in noir crime, Lovecraftian horror, high adventure and everything in between. Now his love of Robert E Howard’s Solomon Kane and an extensive knowledge of Scottish myths and legends have united to bring us Augustus Seton, 16th Century sword for hire.
Cold as Death is the first story in the collection and is an origin tale. We meet Augustus and fellow adventurer Duncan as they find themselves making deals that will come back to haunt them. The story explains how Seton gained his magical sword and the price he has to pay for it.
In Fear Liath Mor Augustus Seton is summoned to the crumbling ruins of Glenmore castle. Here the people are terrorised by a creature (or creatures) and Seton must travel into the mountains to confront the beast. He soon realises that the beasts may not be the only evil around. The legend of the grey man of Ben Macdui is well known to Scots but has been given a fresh twist in this adventure.
Warlock sees Augustus Seton face the Kilbirnie Wyrm in a story that manges to encompass magic, Templar treasure and the undead in a fast paced adventure.
In The Wee Hard Men, Seton is employed by the prior of Glasgow Cathedral to investigate some “trouble” they have been having. Its a rollicking adventure which takes Seton from the vaults of the Cathedral to the high seas.
Brotherhood Of The Thorns does not feature Augustus Seton but is an historical tale in a similar style. This time featuring crusader knights seeking a holy relic and finding more than they desired. The Saxon is another bonus historical adventure where the eponymous Saxon finds himself amidst the mysterious Britons and in particular meets one who will go on to far greater things.
Finally samples of William Meikle’s The Invasion and Berserker round off the collection. Augustus Seton doesn’t quite have the same grandeur and pathos as the likes of Solomon Kane but in terms of sheer adventure he ticks all the boxes. Like a prose cartoon character he hacks and slashes his way through imaginative retelling of ancient myths in a fantastically enjoyable manner.
It’s great to see these old legends given a new lease of life and I have high hopes that Seton, as a character, will grow through future stories into something very powerful. William Meikle has featured on these pages before and will definitely feature again. He is ploughing a rather lone furrow in a field of increasingly serious horror literature but it’s a furrow which always produces a rich crop of entertaining fiction so if you have yet to try it I recommend this collection as an excellent starting point.
Rating 4 out of 5
NB – This review is based on the Kindle electronic edition, a similar edition is available on Smashwords. A physical copy of the collection is also available at Ghostwriter Publications here. Note, however, that Ghostwriter have been having distribution problems (as recognised on the homepage of their website) and as such the electronic edition is currently my preferred option.