Snakewood v Powerhouse Porter

Book: Snakewood
Author: Adrian Selby
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 2016

Snakewood is the first of three standalone books set in the same world. I’m not entirely sure why, but I find myself craving books that can stand on their own more & more these days. They can be parts of trilogies with an overarching thread, as long as most of the particular stories threads are resolved. Books where you need the rest in the series to come out to feel fulfilled are too much effort at the moment.

A legendary band of retired mercenaries are being hunted down one by one. Rumours are rife & nobody knows who will turn up dead next. It’s told from numerous perspectives though it loosely follows two of the surviving members of the band (Kailen’s Twenty) Gant & Shale, & each of them are flawed to the nth degree. These mercenaries were not heroes, far from it & you’ll learn from the flashback chapters that it is not a surprise that someone from their past would want them dead.

This is one of those Grimdark fests in which the endgame is not so important as the twists & turns that lead up to it. You’re here for the journey not the destination. The interplay between characters & the descriptions of how the world’s magic system shaped their lives are what I found most fascinating.

Plant-based ‘brews’ are used like magic potions in RPGs. You have everything from healing brews to brews that give various combat abilities. The recipes for these brews are closely guarded secrets & one of the reasons Kailen’s Twenty were so successful was down to the brews they used. As with any good magic system though there is a price & that comes in the form of ‘paying the colour’. Basically a major hangover or drug comedown.

Beer: Powerhouse Porter
Brewery: Sambrook’s Brewery
Style: London Porter
Strength: 4.9%

If you held me down, threatened to cover me in honey & left me in a bog for the insects unless I told you what my favourite style of beer was, then I’d probably say a porter.

This is a good one. Classic rich smokiness with a distinctive bitterness. Perfect drink for when the weather outside is shit & you’re inside wishing you could afford to put the heating on, so 95% of the year in England.

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