When I think of Garth Nix I think of excellent fantasy literature for children, but Nix writes for adults, too. Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures is a collection of three previously published stories about a knight and artillerist named Sir Hereward and a magically animated puppet called Mr. Fitz. The duo works for the Council for the Saftey of the World and they’ve taken a vow to hunt down and exterminate the supernatural beings who are on a proscribed list of evil godlets. Sir Hereward contributes his skill with explosives while Fitz does the magic. Each of the adventures in this collection tells how they dealt with one of the godlets.
“Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again” (originally published in Jim Baen’s Universe, April 2007, edited by Eric Flint) — Hereward and Fitz travel to a pastoral community where a proscribed godlet is leaching the land of its strength. They must fight their way into his inner sanctuary so they can slay the god.
“Beyond the Sea Gate of the Scholar-Pirates of Sarskoe” (originally published in the anthology Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by the Vandermeers) — The knight and the puppet team up with a lovely female pirate and her crew to blast a sea-gate which protects the hideout of a god who takes the form of a giant yellow starfish.
“A Suitable Present for a Sorcerous Puppet” (originally published in the anthology Swords and Dark Magic, edited by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan) — Sir Hereward is recuperating at a monastery and trying to find a birthday present for Mr. Fitz when he discovers a god in the monastery’s attic.
I enjoyed these adventures of Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz. Hereward is an appealing rogue — he’s open and charming and he’s a sucker for a woman with scars. Fitz is the real hero, though — an inscrutable puppet with unknown powers. He’s quite creepy to the reader but he’s been with Hereward since childhood, so we tend to trust him, but we’re not sure where his arcane arts or his motivation come from. Nix’s world is intriguing, too, and there’s some great scenery. I’d like to spend more time exploring it. Nix’s prose is perhaps most appealing to me. The setting and action are succinctly but adequately described with a deadpan tone that’s frequently amusing (though these stories would be better categorized as horror than comedy).
Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz: Three Adventures was previously self-published as an e-book, but Subterranean Press has recently released it in hardback and paperback formats. As the publisher warns, this is a book for adults, not children. Giant yellow starfish may sound cheery, but believe me, they’re not. These stories are quite dark and often gruesome and Hereward and Fitz leave a lot of dead bodies in their wake.