I'll admit that when I started reading A WAR OF APES by S.D.B Hawley it was with a certain skepticism. The author is not well-known, he has only this one title to his name, and the book itself was not well-treated by its publisher PublishAmerica. The author has had nothing but trouble with this publisher, they have priced this book way out of reason, and even when I tried to purchase a copy of it from Amazon at the ghastly inflated price of $22.46 the purchase never went through or was delayed. (Its Amazon page says it ships in 2 - 3 weeks?) So I canceled my order.
Then, for some strange reason, the author of this work, who is on my Facebook friends list, surprisingly signed and shipped his own copy to me. So I read it. And despite the fact that, these days, getting into entire new worlds and sword & sorcery fantasy landscapes comes difficult to me, eventually I became pleased by what I was reading.
A WAR OF APES is about humans and semi-intelligent, semi-free, talking apes living together; but, written in the style of Robert E. Howard of Conan the Barbarian fame, obviously there has to be a Conan stand-in for a hero. In this case, that hero would be Rungrin the ape, the most powerful ape of all and, like Conan who was not a very intelligent human, Rungrin is not very intelligent even for an ape.
This book consists of a series of disconnected short stories centered around the adventures of Rungrin the ape. The author is highly-imaginative and a skilled writer. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rungrin does not win out in every story, and there are some bitter endings, so this adds an emotional spin to the novel that makes it all the more interesting to read. And the author is constantly full of surprises, for instance, the endless hallway scene at which I literally burst out laughing. And this:
At length, the thing returned and perched atop the clock tower. Then I saw eyes appear where no eyes should be as it searched for something. Like two great yellow lanterns, the eyes formed. They flickered like flint ghosts in the thick of those tails and tentacles. The hungry, watchful, expression in those eyes filled me with terror and the hopeless feeling that it saw everything and looked for a living being to murder.
The author who wrote these words does not just write fantasy stories, he lives and breathes fantasy stories. They are his entire raison d'etre. And if I had a million dollars to give, I would give it to him so he could keep on creating.
Hawley promises to publish a sequel to A WAR OF APES, with a different hero and set centuries into the future of that world. I wish him the best of luck with his endeavor.