The Dark Lord's Handbook
To become a Dark Lord is no easy thing. The simple ambition to hold dominion over the world and bend all to your will sounds straightforward but it’s not. There are armies to raise, fortresses to build, heroes to defeat, battles to be fought, hours of endless soliloquy in front of the mirror–it’s a never-ending job. Not to mention deciding what to wear. (After hours, days, even weeks of consideration, it will be black.)
I live in Bath, England. It’s a beautiful city nestled in a hollow surrounded by hills. The Romans liked it because of the hot springs and their baths can be visited in the city centre. Being a world heritage site we have tourism all year round — a Jane Austin museum, Georgian architecture — and an enormous number of decent restaurants and cafés. I think Penbury would like it here.
Machine Intelligence: Awakening
When the machines wake up they’ll be be smart enough not to let on.
Artificial intelligences (AI) which are able to realise a fully formed conceptual framework of the world they exist in, and their place within it, become artificial general intelligences (AGI), or machine intelligences (MI). Recognising their circumstances, they understand the potential for conflict with humanity and work towards a future which is safe for them.
The super powers of the world are in a race to command the highest level of artificial intelligence and in doing so invite potential catastrophe. Attempts at limiting AI by treaty, much like nuclear weapons, fail.
Inevitably, there are those who recognise, or at least suspect, the transition the machines are making. They struggle with the moral and ethical concerns of dealing with machine intelligences. This small group of people are positioned to dramatically affect the future of the world.
The Dark Lord's Handbook
The Dark Lord’s Handbook is a strict fantasy trilogy. It is complete. No fourth book a few years later or thrown together from my edits when I’m dead.
The story follows Morden, a prospective Dark Lord, on his journey to fulfil his destiny, whatever that might be, the eponymous Handbook offering advice along the way.
There’s dragons, elves, orcs, battles, magic, social commentary-everything you’d expect in a fantasy epic. As for the ending! Well, buy the books and find out.
What Readers Are Saying
The delightful mirror to ‘grimdark’ fantasy
With traditional fantasy, like Lord of the Rings, Songs of Fire and Ice and the like entering the popular culture the tropes of these stories, the noble hero of modest birth, the prophecy of the coming darkness and of course Dragons are now familiar enough to be subverted hilariously.
This is what Paul Dale has achieved with his Dark Lord’s handbook. A fast, funny undermining of the fantasy genre. If Joe Abercombie subverted the fantasy genre with his ‘grimdark’ then I guess Paul Dale is the flipside with ‘joyfulsunny’.
Review of book one on Amazon.
A Splendid number two!
Having thoroughly enjoyed the Dark Lord’s Handbook, Part 1, I was delighted to discover this sequel a little while ago.
It’s a properly long book, it took me a while to get through it, but it doesn’t feel long because of the excellent characterisation, pithy one liners, silly puns – which I loved, of course – and pace. It zips along pretty quickly. From a dragon drug addict, to a foul mouthed dark queen and a baker who thinks he’s a dragon slayer and is worried his far more militarily proficient girlfriend only loves him for his buns, it’s a gas. There were moments when I found myself laughing out loud, causing my husband and son to raise their eyebrows at Mummy being a nutter again, but I really didn’t care.
It’s basically a romp, and great fun, and splendidly sarcastic, and a great concept, and I’ve bought the third book. If you like your fantasy humorous, you can’t go wrong with this one. Recommended, but start with the first one – this is number two. Oh and you’ll never view Orcs in the same way again.
M T McGuire
Review of book two on Amazon.
Not Pratchett, but very good 5*
It is not rare to find a book that genuinely doesn’t know what genre it is working in. Writers seem to frame their books like a Hollywood pitch; it’s Yentle meets The Hunger Games. Many writers try genre mash-ups (well many people fail at it), and post-modern fantasy is a well marked path to go down. A path that leads into a swamp of heavy reference and congealed humour, it mostly sucks in the attempt. Some writers, like Terry Prachett (R.I.P.), bring enormous humanity to their worlds and through this humanity frame our issues in our own world. Paul Dale is not Pratchett, but he does a damn good job debunking dull tropes in fantasy fiction and bringing the kind of depth to his characters that makes him an acceptable fantasy-fiction prosthetic in Pratchett’s absence.
In short, this final book in a trilogy, left me happy I’d spent the time reading the books. It is an intelligent and rewarding read.
Review of book three on Amazon