H. Wolfgang Porter is a hardcore fantasy author with a considerable body of work, in both fiction and film. He began his career as a director and a photographer, before diving into writing, with his book series Tales from the Long Road.
The story of The Gray Man begins with the cold-blooded murder of the Highborn Elf Semiel in the middle of the preparation of the festivities for the Holydays of Siphmem. The culprit escapes the authorities, but the method of the murder betrays that this was done by a human, the act causing race tensions in the city to rise to a boil. It’s not long before the investigative force tasked with solving the mystery find themselves caught up with a political power grab that threatens to cause a civil war.
The Gray Man is one of those rare examples of an author pulling off a believable and fresh approach to a faux-contemporary fantasy world, much in the lines of Terry Pratchett’s legendary Ankh-Morpork. Unlike Pratchett’s work, however, Porter’s South City is not a satirical view on the world of today, but instead a well-researched and engrossing setting, filled with its score of heroes, bastards and its very own supernatural vigilante. Gray Man, the titular character, originally gave me the impression of him being a cleverly disguised fantasy adaptation of the Batman. Porter, of course proved me wrong in the best way possible.
The Gray Man’s faults lie in its cover, which is, unfortunately lacking when it comes to drawing a prospective reader’s eye and in Wolfgang Porter’s cliffhanger which, while it made me want to read the next book in the series, I found nonetheless frustrating.
The Gray Man requires no prior familiarity with H. Wolfgang Porter’s fantasy universe and I suggest this book as your first choice to familiarize yourself with his work.