Book Review: The Hammer and the Blade, by Paul S. Kemp

Egil and Nix, adventurers and swords for hire, are pulled into the dark schemes of a decadent family with a diabolical secret. A fast paced adventure redolent with the best of classic sword and sorcery tales.” — GoodReads


The Hammer and the Blade is the first book in the Egil and Nix series by Paul S. Kemp. I had high hopes for it when I picked it up and read the interplay between the main characters in the first few pages. It was amusing, and I must admit I fancy main characters that are smart-asses. 
Egil and Nix aren’t out to save the world–just their corner of it. They bungled into a pact made between a sorcerer’s family and a family of demons, and jeopardized the sorcerer’s power base and life. As a result, they’re forced into helping the sorcerer fix the mess. That makes it sound as though the sorcerer is a victim here, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 


As much as I enjoyed it, I can certainly see the flaws. But first, the pros:

  • I love the dialogue and wit between the main characters. It’s entertaining, and more often than not I was laughing out loud. 
  • Action abounds in the book, and in general keeps the story rolling. 
  • Nix’s personality is reminiscent of Silk’s in The Belgariad; flamboyant and a little over-the-top. Egil is a more steadfast character, and his comical delivery is dry in comparison, but no less amusing. 
  • Some of the world-building is interesting, and setting up (most likely) for stories later on. 

The cons:

  • For as long as the book was, I was surprised to see my progress and realize so little happened in regards to the story. I’m not sure where the filler went, for the most part, but it must have happened somewhere. There was no depth.
  • The characters besides Egil and Nix feel two-dimensional, and not very fleshed out. A couple of the guards, Baras and Jyme, get better treatment, so they’re not as bad. However, most of the others just feel flat. 
  • One of the scenes where they fight a demon is pages long, and went on for what seemed like forever. I enjoy a good action scene, but you need to know when to say; ‘Enough is enough.’
  • While I enjoy the wit and sarcasm, it undercuts the tension and thrill we should feel during tense and dangerous moments. 
  • The outrage the characters feel for the sisters’ potential predicament loses its credibility and punch when the sorcerer is defeated. I can see the whole, ‘turnabout is fairplay’ aspect, and an eye for an eye, but it does undermine their anger.

I’m giving the book 3.5/5 stars.


The book was a potato chip when I was looking for a baked potato. If there had been a little more depth to the characters and the story, it would have gone a long way.

I’d recommend this book if you need something light and entertaining, that you can put down at a moment’s notice if need be. It was good, but hopefully the second novel brings us a little more story and a little less wit.

Author: lotwordsmiths

Hello, there! I'm Toni, and I've been writing and reading primarily fantasy stories most of my life. What really set me on the path to be a writer was my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Thomas, who told me she could see me as an author some day. I made Legends of the Wordsmiths to share my stories, and hopefully, (someday), the stories of others, too.!

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