The Spiral Labyrinth: Henghis Hapthorn is back

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew HughesThe Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew Hughes

Henghis Hapthorn, who we met in Majestrum, is back. Actually, he’s not really back, he’s forward, because after solving the mystery of the disappearance of a man who went to look at a spaceship for sale, Henghis finds himself in a future Dying Earth where magic has replaced the role of reason in the universe. It seems he’s been drawn there by some malevolent force that wants something from him. In this future Earth, Henghis contends with warring wizards, fire-breathing dragons, and a very nasty luminous fungus. Will he be able to get back to his proper time and place?

Fortunately, Hapthorn is not alone. He has his computer which has turned into an argumentative fruit-eating feline pet, and a sentient sword which is eager to be drawn and brandished at any potential threat. Unfortunately, Henghis’ intuitive alternate psyche, who prefers to be called Osk Rievor, is missing and Henghis, who’s quite a logical fellow, could really use his help in a world where logic no longer works.

As I mentioned in my review of Majestrum, the first of the Henghis Hapthorn novels which are set in the ARCHONATE universe, Matthew Hughes’ writing style, dry humor, and bizarre characters and situations unabashedly mimic Jack Vance (he even uses the word “exudate”). Hughes’ work is not parody or pastiche — his characters and plot are all his own. These are original and creative stories, not rehashed Vance tales. As a rabid Vance fan, I think Hughes is worthy of comparison to the master and I can’t help but be charmed by an author who clearly loves Jack Vance as much as I do. Even the covers for the Henghis Hapthorn novels were painted by one of my favorite fantasy artists, Tom Kidd, who created the covers for many of Jack Vance’s novels. Charming.

David Marantz narrates the audio version of The Spiral Labyrinth which was recently produced by Audible Frontiers. It took me a while to warm up to Marantz in Majestrum, but I decided that he was a good fit after all and I really liked him in The Spiral Labyrinth. His voice is pleasant and his plain, even reading technique works well with Hughes’ style.

The Archonate — (1994-2013) Science fantasy set in the same universe. Publisher: In the Penultimate Age of the Archonate, callow young fop Filidor Vesh is perfectly content to spend his days in the pursuit of shallow amusements, until he is summoned by a wizened old dwarf in need of a voluntary good deed — deliver a parcel to his uncle, the all-powerful and original 98th Archon, sole ruler of the world. So begins Filidor’s reluctant odyssey through peculiar provinces peopled with odious denizens, including such road killers as mutant rodents, alien ants and a vengeful thamaturge. Now in terra incognito, his narrow conception of life shaken to the extreme, Filidor will strive to say and do the right things… and grow up in the process.

The Tales of Henghis Hapthorn

Matthew Hughes Archonate, The Tales of Henghis Hapthorn 1. Fools Errant 2. Fool Me Twice 3. Black Brillion 4. Majestrum 5. The Spiral Labyrinth 6. HespiraMatthew Hughes Archonate, The Tales of Henghis Hapthorn 1. Fools Errant 2. Fool Me Twice 3. Black Brillion 4. Majestrum 5. The Spiral Labyrinth 6. HespiraMatthew Hughes Archonate, The Tales of Henghis Hapthorn 1. Fools Errant 2. Fool Me Twice 3. Black Brillion 4. Majestrum 5. The Spiral Labyrinth 6. Hespirafantasy and science fiction book reviews

Other books in the Archonate universe

Matthew Hughes Archonate, The Tales of Henghis Hapthorn 1. Fools Errant 2. Fool Me Twice 3. Black Brillion 4. Majestrum 5. The Spiral Labyrinth 6. HespiraMatthew Hughes Archonate, The Tales of Henghis Hapthorn 1. Fools Errant 2. Fool Me Twice 3. Black Brillion 4. Majestrum 5. The Spiral Labyrinth 6. HespiraMatthew Hughes Archonate, The Tales of Henghis Hapthorn 1. Fools Errant 2. Fool Me Twice 3. Black Brillion 4. Majestrum 5. The Spiral Labyrinth 6. HespiraMatthew Hughes The Gist Hunter and Other StoriesMatthew Hughes The Commons, TemplateMatthew Hughes The Template


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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2 comments

  1. This sound delightful!

  2. Tizz /

    Ah, so *this* is where the recommendation came from! I recently picked up Majestrum and found it absolutely delightful, full of quirky humour, smart and to the point — no lazy excess verbiage here! It’s good to know the series continues on such a high note.
    Incidentally, I read a good deal of Vance back in the day, but it’s too long ago for me to remember much about it; maybe time to re-read!
    Thanks, Kat!

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