|From Hyborean Apocrypha|
This being the first novel length review I will be splitting it up. it has 23 chapters and a prologue and in this first part will review the prologue and first 4 chapters
Conan the Defiant - Steve Perry, part 1
our story this week starts off with a bit of set up for the villains, they seem to be your standard " necromancer " sort of character, named Neg the Maleific.. He's apparently a Brythunian Scholar with having zombie minions.. I wonder if he's not studied the same books that Vammatar the Cruel, the witch-queen character in "legions of the Dead" had. Geographically I suppose there is a possibility of him having studied with the Hyperboreans but we shall see.
Chapter 1 - 4
We next pick up with Conan just as hes coming out of the mountains following his adventures in the previous story, frequent mentions are made to that and even the scratches he received in that aren't fully healed, at most this is set no more than a few days after "The Thing in the crypt". He hears a commotion and sneaks up on a scene where a stout man with a wooden staff is being attacked by 5 sword wielding opponents.. He dosen't decide to get involved at first but once he sees the stout man pretty effectively fending them off, he goes to his aide.. They fend off the rest of the, we are now informed to be brigands and the man, who turns out to be a monk of some sort, offers to take Conan back to their temple and feed him and supply him with some new clothes, as the Pelts he'd stolen from the crypt are now fully beginning to fall apart and show their age.
Before they make it to the monastery they are attacked by a Stith... which is apparently some sort of Reptilian humanoid, I'd assume they have some relation to the snake-men from the Kull stories but heavily devolved. Again, we shall see as the story progresses.
Not much happens in this period, we learn the Stith are Poisonous and can eject said poison, that the man that Conan rescued, Cengh (I assume pronounced Singh) is a messenger with some urgent tale to tell his betters at the temple. While he does this we are introduced to a footpad named Skeer, who is spying on the temple, and practices some sort of oracular magic using the guts of a stolen goat to accomplish this.. he works for Neg you see, and must stay in touch. Other than that, Conan cleans up, is issued some new clothes and eats and drinks a bunch, and decides he can put off heading to Zamora for a few more days. A brief interlude with a sword master and his Student and a hint at the extensive network of trade in the Hyborian lands.. though why a Vendyhan trader would go all the way to Cimmeria is another matter.. when this interlude is over, its obvious Conan has made himself a new enemy in the form of the sword master's student. throughout these chapters we are also occasionally alerted to the doings of Neg's Zombie girl Tuanne as well. Conan has a run in with a woman masquerading as a priest, who is planning to knife another priest, She is after some stolen bit of property, after this altercation Conan lets her go. following this he watched a fight between two priests, one is stabbed and slumps to the ground and the girl darts after the other one who flees. Conan approaches the wounded man and discovers its Cengh, Cengh relates the story of some magical artifact, "The Source of Light", and how the man who stole it was working for Neg, our necromancer friend, and that should neg get the artifact he will be able to cause untold mischief. Conan resolves to delay his journey to Zamora further in order to get revenge for Cengh.
He has a further run in with the girl, now named Elashi, who we discover is from a nomadic people in the far desert country of Khaurun, and is also after the man who knifed Cengh. She also alerts Conan to the fact that the other man is in fact Skeer, who is working for Neg. Apparently her father found the Source of Light in some ruins recently uncovered by a sandstorm.. he was killed for it and some how the object wound up in the possession of the monks in a Brythunian monastery, and now its on its way to Neg. The two resolve to work together to find Skeer before he gets to make delivery.