I'd been meaning to read something by Lawrence Watt-Evans for a long time -- he's an occasionally regular (oxymoron noted) poster to the rec.arts.sf.written newsgroup, and I've always found his posts to be worth reading, so I figured I should check out his fiction.
Well, now I have. I read Lawrence Watt-Evans' The Misenchanted Sword , which is the first book in his Ethshar series. It wasn't really what I was expecting. From the zany sound of the back cover and the Darrell K. Sweet cover -- not to mention the title -- I was expecting a light, humorous fantasy of magic gone amusingly wrong. It started out how I would have expected: A scout in an interminable war between the Kingdom of Ethshar and the evil, sorcerous Northerners stumbles on an old, eccentric hermit who enchants his sword in a slightly unpredictable fashion. Very familiar fantasy stuff, all.
And then it takes unexpected turns (which I shan't detail here, because that's the kind of non-spoiling guy I am). The net effect is a deeper book than you'd expect from that setup and premise, and one that goes in directions you wouldn't think it'd go. It's not particularly grim or heavy, but it's not the light romp I was expecting.
I liked it. It wasn't brilliant, but it was definitely in the upper echelon of goodness. Watt-Evans is a craftsmanlike writer whose prose, characters, background, and plot all combine to make a very enjoyable novel. I want to see more of this world and will definitely be reading the sequels. (Or at least the immediate sequel, which I own; I gather that many of the others are out of print.)