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Brian Naslund

Brian is an American fantasy author based in Boulder, CO. Brian Naslund was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where he never quite learned to love crab cakes. As a technology-soaked millennial, his first taste of fantasy wasn’t from Tolkien or the other amazing fantasy writers he now loves, but instead from watching his older brother play video games in the basement. After healthy doses of many Final Fantasy games during his formative years, he developed a lifelong obsession with flawed characters lugging swords around in the wilderness. Brian spent his early twenties living in Manhattan and subsisting off ramen and cheap vodka, and now lives in Colorado. He still eats ramen but traded the vodka for craft-brewed IPAs. Brian is now a product director for a tech company, and first started writing about dragons to escape the crushing boredom of his incredibly long bus commute. When he’s not writing, he’s usually griping about video games on Twitter, hiking with his dog, Lola, or whitewater kayaking in the mountains. The last activity makes his mother very nervous.

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Blood of an Exile: A well-executed quest with a welcome ecological touch

Blood of an Exile by Brian Naslund

I confess that I picked up Blood of an Exile (2019) by Brian Naslund with the expectation that I’d be reading another fantasy about a roguish-yet-likable gritty swordsman and his band of gritty companions battling the odds to save their gritty world. And sure, the world is gritty. But as I often say, it’s not the familiarity of the tropes, but what one does with them. And Naslund executes them quite well even while subverting a few. Even better, he casts the entire story within a more original context that freshens everything, even the grit, nicely.

The country of Almira has a relatively unique way of punishing particular criminals. They tattoo a set of blue bars on their face, give them a low-born assistant known as their “forsaken shield,” and send them out to slay dragons, which are nu... Read More

Sorcery of a Queen: Good blend of humor, character, and plot

Sorcery of a Queen by Brian Naslund

Honestly, I could give Brian Naslund’s Sorcery of a Queen (2020) a four just for the following jail-break exchange:

“Stay exactly two paces behind me at all times ... Stop when I stop, move when I move.”

 “So, your plan doesn’t involve putting on pants?”

 “No.”

 “Could we maybe restrategize so that it does?”

I got to that bit of dialogue around three a.m. and let out a “Hah!” loud enough that I immediately cowered in expectation that my wife, asleep in the room next door, was about to offer up a none-too-happy commentary on my waking her three hours before work. Luckily, she slept through my outburst, which meant I got to keep my m... Read More

Fury of a Demon: Enjoyable, engaging, and entertaining (but…)

Fury of a Demon by Brian Naslund

I admitted back when I reviewed Brian Naslund’s Blood of an Exile that I had resisted the book sitting on my shelf and picked it up somewhat grudgingly, expecting yet “another fantasy about a roguish-yet-likable gritty swordsman and his band of gritty companions battling the odds to save their gritty world.” Which, as I noted then, wasn’t so far off in terms of plot, but which in more important ways didn’t come near being accurate, thanks to Naslund’s sharply executed characterization and world-building, an ecological theme that added appreciated depth, and a wonderfully cheeky style, traits that all continued on into the sequel S... Read More