by Salvo the Unmerciful
Meticulously researched, Brutal Arrows is a heartbreaking yet technically precise exposé of what happens when a traditional culture clashes with an advanced civilization from the future.
After reading the pre-release teaser from Purgatory Press many months ago, we have been expecting a detailed catalog of the 31 arrow types used by human interlopers. But as we already know most of that, we have been hoping the book would deliver more than a discussion of gruesome medical effects illustrated by anecdotes of agony.
We were not disappointed. The first chapter jumps right in with a categorized overview of arrows, along with cautionary notes. In his discussion of Holy Light, for example, Salvo advises: “Stand clear of the glowing white circle, lest this most unholy of spells render a mosquito bite into the gnashing tooth of an angry tiger.”
Once the scope of the “Arrow Overkill” problem is made clear through tales of mass murder and torment, he switches to more philosophical issues. “Why,” he muses, “do those in virtual helmets feel the need to apply the scourge of ‘soft ware’ to creating excess, when in truth the warrior’s calling is refinement of skill and finesse? A mere ‘noob’ can stumble into the first Purgatory courtyard and loose a Cataclysm with naught for aim, whereupon the quietly conversing Masters of Archery, crafty and wise from centuries of combat, are scarce able to raise bows before being rent asunder by the forces of fire and volcano.”
Of course, we can’t help but find his descriptive prose quaint, but beneath that lies an uneasy truth. When we stealthily creep about with Hand of God and Cupid’s Wrath, our adversaries with simple arrows barely stand a chance. This seems unfair, but in the final chapter Salvo the Unmerciful admits that on balance, we are as hopelessly outnumbered as are they overpowered. Here he diverges from other IDU writers who have decried the Quivers of Overkill as crimes against the afterlife… and in his closing rhapsody about the sacred beauty of battle, he concedes that the system has evolved to allow a single human to embark on a quest for Glory of Leaderboard without being instantly pierced to the heart by the first toxophilites to let fly with feathers fletched and arrowheads of steel.
And with this, he observes, the universe is in balance.
Brutal Arrows will find a place on reference shelves within and without the IDU world. Salvo’s discussion of effects, reflecting insight from thousands of deaths over the centuries, goes much deeper than the brief anecdotal descriptions found in our online communities. If you want to understand what our adversaries FEEL when staring balefully down the barrel of your well-stocked quiver, this is the book to read (we are working on subsidiary rights for earth-only distribution).
This is part of the In Death: Unchained literature collection by Steven K. Roberts.