FORSYTH, IL—Characterizing the reclusive subterranean race of diminutive miners right off the bat as “possessed of a fiery demeanor most unpleasant” from its opening pages, fantasy novel The Mage’s Shadow was not holding back on its criticisms of dwarvish culture in the least, readers confirmed Thursday. “For a whole damn page, this book is just railing against dwarves, portraying them as greedy and violent by nature and out-and-out stating they’re ‘curmudgeons, the lot of them, stubborn as the Zorthesian day is long,’” said fantasy aficionado James Tillman, explaining he had initially assumed the book was about to moderate its editorial voice when it got to a dialogue-heavy passage, only to find two sorcerers “just start ragging the poor guys out of nowhere” about how the dwarvenkind “are born with tempers as short as their stature,” “squander their sunless, joyless days on excesses of ale and impenetrable games of chance,” and “are cursed with scowling visages most heinously ill-formed, and aside from perhaps those of the ork-kin, the most repulsive in all of Aldoria.” “There is a brief passage, several chapters in, about dwarf families being ‘fiercely loyal to their own,’ but then the authorial gloves are off again in a pointed discussion of their ‘bizarre silver-based society,’ speculation on how their underground lifestyle is a manifestation of their inherent cowardice, and how their beards ‘resemble nothing so much as the curséd Dùthronian Forest’s fetid thatch.’ I tell you, the dwarves can’t catch a break.” Tillman further noted that every time The Mage’s Shadow gave dwarves their due by noting their undeniable prowess at smithing and bladecraft, there was an accompanying passage noting that they habitually swindled patrons by adding base lead to their mystical sky-steel, not even batting their hooded, shifty eyes in the process.

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