Gorel & the Pot-Bellied God is subtitled as a “Sword & Guns novella” – I admit that I do not know whether that term was coined by Tidhar or whether he found it somewhere else but it is as compelling as fitting for this slim, but very impressive work. Lavie Tidhar is Sergio Leone to Fritz Leiber’s John Ford, and he is to Michael Moorcock what Tsui Hark is to King Hu. Which is to say, he’s read the classics, most likely devoured, even absorbed them, and now re-imagines them with a great amount of awareness of their tropes, irony and playfulness, plus an added pinch of weirdness. Well, more than a pinch in this case, more like a huge heap of it. Lavie Tidhar’s imagination is as fertile, as swampy and as steamy as the South-Eastern Asia inspired setting Gorel & the Pot-Bellied God takes place in; the novella is a bit like a Malaysian jungle – full of fetid, decomposing things and you’re likely to tread into something unpleasant with every step,but it is also seething with all kinds of bizarre lifeforms, teeming with sounds and bright, intense colours. This is a slim but brilliant work that places itself firmly in a tradition (or, in fact, several), yet bends and twists it into something quite unique and very fun to read.