The Walrus & the Warwolf (Trade Paperback)

3.80/5 (based on 6 ratings)

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by Hugh Cook, with an introduction by China Miéville

A boy of sixteen, swordsmith’s apprentice Drake Douay loves nothing more than booze, loose women, and causing endless amounts of trouble. Yet when he’s sentenced to death by the merciless ogre king of his homeland, Drake has no choice but to sign on with two warring and ragtag gangs of pirates. Thus begins a life of adventure, treachery, and debauchery as Drake sails a strange world of high magic and forgotten technology, driven ever onward by his unrequited lust for the red-skinned priestess Zanya. Yet even the monstrous, insectile Swarms of the south are nothing compared to the trouble Drake finds when he returns home to discover that his former master has become the head of a new religion. And killing Drake is its first commandment...

Never before published in a North American edition, The Walrus & the Warwolf blends fierce sword and sorcery with vivid world building to create a classic of modern fantasy. This edition also comes complete with never-before-seen illustrations and an insightful introduction by award-winning fantasy author China Miéville (Perdido Street Station, The Scar).

Read China Miéville's introduction to the book in its entirety here.

464-page softcover trade paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-214-2

Due to a printing error, three pages are missing from the book, and are available here (40 KB zip/PDF) as a free PDF.

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3.80/5 (based on 6 ratings)

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Thank You


Thank for Eric Mona for making sure this was published. This book turned me onto Hugh Cooks writing, and my literary life was enriched for it.

This is sword and sorcery at its grittiest, and the writing and plot are superb. I second the notion that fans of the Dying Earth will enjoy this; I read this and Cugel's Saga each for the first time, back to back, and thoroughly enjoyed Cook's bizarre and intriguing world and writing. I'm now in the process of reading the rest of the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness and have yet to be disappointed! If only Planet Stories had a production schedule that would allow them to reprint all of the books in this under-appreciated series....

it is great


if you love cudgel the clever, you'll like drake the teenage pirate. in other words if you loved dying earth stories you'll find the walrus and the warwolf utterly delightful.

dialogues are brisk and fun, wit is crackling dry, action is great and let's hope paizo continues with some 80's love. i hope that invasion from down bellow (cook was a kiwi) continues with some oz goodness. like for example keith taylor's bard series.

Wishing it were wonderful!


What can I say about this book? It is difficult for me to sum it up. I started a subscription to Planet Stories based on what I read about it. I had really high hopes for it, that being said, perhaps my hopes were set a bit too high. This book is not a great book, as far as books go, I'm waffling on even calling it a good book. It's not to say that there weren't some really great parts of the book, but over all it was lacking and left me wishing it could have been better.

Part of the problem is it didn't have a real overall story format, as least not what I was expecting. I went in to it thinking it wasn't going to be a heroic Bildungsroman story, which in the end I actually think it turned out to be in some respects. I didn't expect the wandering personal journal that it felt like though. The story skips around from one adventure to another, sometimes unrelated, with seemingly no real point. While it does fit the chaotic life of a bunch of pirates, at times the adventures drag on and I found myself bored by them. These slow parts were difficult to read. Just about the time it would get almost unbearable, something interesting would happen and I would fly through a couple chapters. Overall I found this a difficult book to read, not because it is written at a high reading level, but because of the boring parts. I found myself wanting to finish it none the less. I think the story could have been told just as well with 100 fewer pages. I don’t want to have to read about being held captive again for quite some time.

Now for the good stuff, there were parts of the book I really enjoyed, in particular I loved the part about Drake's Goulash. It's not often that something I read will have me laughing out loud, but I couldn't stop laughing reading that section. With all his flaws, he is a likable character. His remembrance of those who died is also surprising and shows his humanity. I also really like Jon Arabin, Walrus Mike, and even a couple of the other minor characters. I did end up feeling a certain kinship with them after finishing the story, and mourned the losses the characters experience. At times the repartee and interaction between the characters is very engrossing. I can easily imagine pirates would really act, interact, and react to the things going on around them the way the characters in the book do. The unique monsters were also a nice change of pace. This is not the place to find Tolkienesque monsters.

Mr. Miéville says that Drake doesn't learn from his mistakes or mature, but I think he does both by quite a bit by the end of the story. The book covers about 5 years of his life from 16 to sometime in his early 20s, and while you definitely see some of the 'nothing can harm me' attitude and stupidity of a teenage boy, he has grown up by the end of the story. It makes it quite ironic and poignant when Drake makes comments about some new shipmates near the end of the story.

Some may be turned off by the vulgar callousness of the pirates, or incest (which is quite mild and doesn’t go into any details on), or even a rape scene (which holds nothing on the Thomas Covenant rape scene in the book Lord Foul’s Bane). If you can’t handle these kinds of things, this book definitely is not for you.

The author does not hold punches characters die unexpectedly, cities are destroyed, valuable gear is lost and destroyed, and nothing is sacred. Ultimately I liked the book, but it is not one I’m likely to read again, or even recommend to others without a strong warning about the above points I make. I would definitely have a hard time making room in my reading list for other books in the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series. If I could give it 3 1/2 stars I would, so I gotta give it a 3 as it doesn't deserve a 4 in my opinion.

Foiled Again


I’ve noticed a tendency among book reviewers (and movie reviewers and game reviewers…) to make sweeping judgments on their subjects. There’s little taking into account differing tastes between individuals. If the reviewer didn’t like the book, then by Gum, no one should like that book.

That said, I’ll start by saying that I found this book very unsettling. It hit on many sensitive spots: what some today might call ‘puritan values’ spots. I’m a religiously and family minded person and I honestly was not comfortable with a lot of subject matter in this book. A few times, I was tempted to do with it what I’ve only done on three other occasions before and put it down for good.

In the end, I’m glad that I didn’t.

In The Walrus and the Warwolf: Book three in A Chronicle of an Age of Darkness, Hugh Cook manages to use a superb literary foil to hold a mirror to our society and say what all it’s doing wrong. He does this by showing you a person, Drake Douay, who holds in high regard many twisted and corrupt values. In his society incest is not only ok, it’s considered a means of moving ahead in the world. Drinking and gambling are forms of religious worship. Destruction of property is worse than destruction of life.

The book follows Drake through a series of seemingly unrelated adventures, but like a twisted sort of medieval morality play, each adventure carries with it a subtle message: one that I can’t help but notice most readers seem to miss because of how fun these adventures are. I know China Meiville didn’t get it. He as much says so in his introduction. Just like it so often is in real life, each adventure has a consequence that is easy to overlook. Over time these add up, and while Drake never seems aware of the changes, he does change. Events do impact him. In the end we are given the moral of our reverse morality play.

In the end, I felt my ‘puritan values’ made more sense, without pointing a finger of judgment on anyone that might not share them. There are a lot of books worse than this one on recommended lists for English literature classes. Cook deals with questions about virtue, loyalty, honesty, fidelity, family, government, leadership, and love. We see Drake as he goes through an epic amount of the human experience in a short time. No play of Shakespeare covers as much in a single shot (no, I’m not saying it’s better than Shakespeare.) For literary value there’s alliteration, foil, satire, irony, and just darn good writing. (Yes, DGW is a real literary term, just like I’m a real book reviewer.)

So, um, Tokoz? Why the four stars?

This book isn’t for everyone. If my second paragraph actually makes you hesitate rather than ask, “But does it have pr0n?” then it might not be for you. People with a highly developed ‘moral compass’ might find the book disorienting and even nauseating. Another type of person that might want to avoid this book is someone that reads for escapism. If you don’t stop and think about it being a mirror to today, it might not bother you, but then again, you might not be ready to look at the reflection that Hugh Cook has ‘cooked’ up.

Enjoy it first and learn something second. Learn something first and enjoy it second. Enjoy it and don’t bother learning anything at all. The rest of the population will still find something they can sink their teeth into.

And skip the introduction. I honestly haven’t read much by Mr. Mieville, but the three f-bombs, the numerous spoilers and his erroneous conclusions about Bildungsroman (Bing is your friend here) in regards to this book, leave me wondering if he’d read it recently and if he had, if he’d read all of it recently. (His definition is fine. He’s just misses the fact that it does happen in Drake’s case.)

Best Planet Stories volume yet!


Swordsmith's apprentice Drake Douay is sentenced to death by drowning for vandalism and destruction of property. As Drake is swimming back to shore, he chances upon Zanya, a red skinned, red haired beauty, and decides he'll do anything to get into her knickers. Can two ships of pirates, revolution, and all manner of disgusting monsters stop Drake from being reunited with Zanya and giving her the rogering of a lifetime?

Drake Douay is a lying, cowardly, slimy, drunken fornicator. And I love him! This is one of the easier books I've ever had to rate.

The Walrus & the Warwolf isn't your typical fantasy. Drake Douay is no Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins, that's for sure. Drake's a follower of the Demon God Hagon and worships accordingly: drinking and fornicating. His sister is a temple whore so he gets a good rate. Yes, incest is played for laughs in this story. Not only is Drake a scoundrel, he remains true to his lying cowardly self for the entirety of the book. The lies just keep coming and Drake gets into bigger and bigger trouble.

The Walrus and The Warwolf are the names of two pirate ships and the nicknames of the captains that sail upon them. The captains are well rounded and hilarious. Some of the pirate dialogue was so rough that it almost offended me. You have to love a story where one of the milder insults used by the characters is "octopus rapist." The supporting cast is also full of gems, like King Tor, and Muck, a man who's syphilis caused him to start his own flame-worshipping religion.

The world of TW&TW is one of fantasy and little understood technology of a lost age. While some of it is serious, like teleportation gates and a flying ship, I laughed hard when one of the pirates smashed a Rubik's Cube in disgust.

The story is equal parts pulp fantasy and humor. The tone is full of dry wit and reminds me of Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time at times, as well as Glorianna, also by the esteemed Mr. Moorcock.

This was the easiest five I ever stuck on a book. If you like fantasy, British humor, pirates, or really offensive language, this is for you. If you don't, buy it anyway. God knows you don't have enough books with the word Walrus in the title...

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The 8th Dwarf wrote:

The book came out in the late 80's I remember reading them in my last years of High school - how far back in time do you think paizo should explore?

I don't understand your reference to British slang Cook was from New Zealand?

Sorry, I only realised that Cook was from NZ when I reached the end of the book, no offence meant to American authors but the book read more "British" to me. I may even have spotted some British English spelling every now and then. :)

"How far back in time?" I would vote for late 70s as the most recent. Sure, I have enjoyed "Template" and some stories from "Before They Were Giants" so I would have missed these, but what I meant was that the title of the line and the retro art, to me call for novels and short-stories from the 50s or 60s era.

As for "The Walrus & The Warwolf", well, it was "a bit meh..." as Bart Simpson would say, but I have read worse ("Baldur's Gate" the novel, yes, I am ashamed...). I just felt like siding with Elf_NFB because he appeared to be one of the few out there whose opinion about the book I felt closest to.

I could complain that the first book I did not like in the series was the thickest, which is not fair, but that would make me look like an idiot! :)

Sovereign Court

The 8th Dwarf wrote:

So does your sense of taste or Elf's sense of taste invalidate it as a book loved by others I think not.

Absolutely not. If someone enjoys this book, so much the better for them. But I found the writing style and subject matter childish and objectionable, respectively. i was excited to get this book and was disappointed. I felt, given the high praise, another opinion should be voiced. And we all know what the say about opinions. :)

I said my piece and hope it gives the inquisitive a more informed opinion. I just wish I could have sold my copy at GenCon. A third of the cover price at the auction store and no takers.... <sigh>

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Yes you can go back.

I read these novels back in the day and I was intrigued to see this book being republished.
I remembered them fondly but wondered if they would survive a re-reading. Time has move on, I've changed and the state of the art has changed.
Sometimes its better to keep the memories rather than be disappointed.

I decided to chance it.

Being cheap I got a copy out of the local library.

And it was good!

Complex characters, that are sometimes good and sometimes bad and have more than one motivation. Set in a gritty realism of life in a low tech world. Wrapped up in a complex story.

Be warned though, if you get squeamish reading dark-age/medieval history - or even some 20th century history - books this book is not for you.

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Kata. the ..... wrote:
Mothman wrote:
For the most part you can probably read them in any order. I’ll give some more detail below spoilers for the sensitive: ** spoiler omitted **...

Thanks Mothman, that was the information I was really looking for. Elf_NFB and jmidd, I understand what you are saying. I never really cared for Drake throughout the book, but I did enjoy some aspects of it.

And I hope most of the other first 4 (mentioned by Mothman in his spoilers) are not as psychopathic as Drake.

I just finished Book 1 "The Wizards and the Warriors". I enjoyed it a lot more than Paizo's choice. I will probably start "The Wordsmiths and the Warguild" before the end of the year.

SPOILERS may follow.

The Wizards and the Warriors follow a foursome (one of which is Miphon), the only one you really care about is Blackwood as they traipse across Argan trying to do right (and often failing). It has the similar problem of The Walrus and the Warwolf of an anti-climatic climax and then 20-30 pages of ending the book.

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