Impaler is a well written alternate history, marred with some
unfortunate anachronistic insertions of modern sensibilities. I would
also add that it is not for the faint of heart; fight sequences are
brutal and gory, torture is a regular occurrence, and pederasty forms a
foundational portion of the story.
Paulk effectively captures the
feeling of the time period for the most part, both its religiousness as
well as its savagery. She makes Vlad an understandable character,
while not shying away from the reality of of the violence of the times
and what was necessary for the man who would be king.
criticisms I have of this book is that while it for the most part aims
to be a gritty, historically based tale, it has a few elements that
break the willing suspension of disbelief. First, Vlad forbids the rape
and pillaging that regular accompanies a conquering army. This is
almost believable, and I would have given it a pass, had not other
issues come into play.
Towards the end of the book, some of the child
victims of pederasty engage in homosexual behavior. Not only does Vlad
give them a free pass, but he actively argues both an Orthodox priest
and a Catholic priest into submission. This is so absurd it is beyond
description. Further, he references in his arguments with the priests
his well-read nature in the Scriptures as well as having compared
translation notes. It is unlikely that most priests were even so
conversant in the Scriptures at that time, let alone the nobles (who
were in turn taught by the priests). A well educated noble would have
been able to read and perhaps do his own accounts, but not engage in
Scriptural debates. Similarly, a little later, he also reveals he is
conversant in Jewish treatises as well. Simply put, this is laughable
for the time.
Those criticisms not withstanding, Impaler was an
interesting read and cleverly written. I would not recommend it for
the tender hearted due to the violent content, but fans of historical
fiction and alternate histories will likely enjoy it.
NB: This is the first of the three volunteer reviews. This one was written by DK.