Friday, March 26, 2010

5. Tor Conan #20, Conan the Indomitable part 2

Part 2 Chapter 3-4

Chapter 3 introduces us to the antagonists of the story, The Wizard Katamay Rey and his minions, and the Witch Chuntha and her flunkys. They are apparently locked in a never ending struggle against one another and are both searching for the same thing. Surely no good can come of this for our Heros who are this very moment setting out from the Inn and not a moment to soon. A few hours after they left the village, the bandits and their hermaphrodite leader attack. Still looking for Conan and his blood in order to reverse their predicament.

Conan and Elashi are beset by a beast while on their southward journey through the mountains, Elashi inquires as to whether Conan has any gods to prey too, he answers in the negative. Crom, his god gives men a certain measure of strength and ability at birth and lets them have at it.. He is a harsh god of a Harsh land, though he could be little else. While they are busy yammering and dealing with the monster, Harskeel catches up to them. The Beast decides that the larger group is the bigger threat and attacks Harskeel and it's lackeys. Conan and Elashi make a run for it, determining they need to cover their trail better, when suddenly they walk into a sinkhole..

Finding themselves in a large cavern, and soon to be beset by a large number of shaggy white creatures. We learn that Katamay Rey's Cyclops Wikkel and the shaggy white creatures were responsible for the sinkhole. Fighting their way through the creatures Conan and Elashi make their escape. Meanwhile Chuntha and Katamey are still plotting and scryeing away, while their various and sundry minions converse with the denizens of the deep and bumble and bungle their way through many an attempt to achieve their masters assorted goals.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

5. Tor Conan #20, Conan the Indomitable

Part 1 Chapter 1-2

Picking up right after Conan the Defiant, Conan and Elashi last seen heading south, are at the juncture of Brythunia, Corinthia and Zamora. Conan is still carrying the sword he picked up in "The Thing in the Crypt", But it is little protection from Elashi's capriciousness and barbed tongue. But it is good for getting them out of a scrape or two along the road southwest out of the mountains. It is also the seeming goal of a group of bandits lead by a hermaphroditic leader, but after a brief battle Conan and Elashi send the remaining bandit and his leader packing. Leaving Conan to wonder, what is so special about his rather plain and unadorned sword.

At the First inn they come to, stomach and wine cup both filled. Conan observes that there are several more men dressed like the bandits in the common room. Another of the inn's denizens picks a fight with the men and Elashi prompts Conan to intercede. But the other man has it well in hand, His name is lalo and has practiced a Khitaian martial art known as Jit-Jit. He easily bests the other two men, and then purchases Conan a bottle of wine for his trouble.

We learn that Lalo's family had a curse laid on it.. which quickly decimated all of them sans Lalo. He manged to stay it off by traveling around, as the curse is he cannot help himself but to smile and make fun of others. Which of course engenders no end of hostilities. So he learned Jit Jit in order to deal with the consequences of his unwanted hilarity. But we also learn from lalo the name of the hermaphrodite Bandit leader, Harskeel of Loplain. We also learn that this person was once Two people who meddled with magics far beyond their meager abilities and were thus melded into one.. creating a some what unfortunate appearance and seemingly a split personality. This is the reason it was after Conan's sword, A Sword dipped in the blood of its brave owner will supposedly counteract the spell.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

4. Tor Conan #31, Conan the Hunter, Part 5

Chapters 20-21 and review.

Having been previously left standing on the stoop, Conan and Khailash find the door to be unlocked. Cautiously probing their way into the entrance of the fortress, they find the missile which Conan felled Lamici with and they use it as a wedge to keep the door open. The pair is accosted by a group of stone gargoyles come to life, and then by the foul priestess herself.

She taunts Khailash and captures him in a side chamber, intent on torturing him over several days. The Gargoyles from previously return this time to menace Azora instead of the hillman.

Conan is left to face Skauraul mano-a-demon, but dosen't seem too put out by this. His enemy defeated, his friend Khailash presumed dead, Conan leaves the fortress just as it begins to crumble.

We are told that Conan remembers little of his journey north from the deserts of Shem, and that he returned to Pirogia once more intent on setting out for Zamora. But first he stops in at the inn the trio had visited, now just the one. He's no more sat down to his first jack of ale when he discovers that his presumed dead Kezankian had made it there before him. And then the story ends.

Thank Mitra.

Review -

If I thought that Conan was out of character in legions of the dead by praying to Crom.. hes certainly a bit out of character in this story. Hes not exactly bumbling or clumsy persay but he definitely comes across as more of an average sort of guy rather than the Super heroic Conan that is featured in some of the other stories.

The book started out ok, when it was more or less simply a story of political intrigue and a priestess determined to regain lost power for her cult, but towards the middle point of the book it seems as if the author decided to just start making it up as he went along, That leads to an odd layout. The Book seems to be 200 pages of build up with the climax taking place over just 3 or 4 pages. Highly anticlimactic if you ask me.

My Biggest problem with this book wasn't the book itself but rather its placement in this chronology. Conan is awfully knowledgeable about lands he has not visited yet according to this chronology, Even citing specific Geography of Zamora and locations further south. considering that in this chronology he has only been free from his Hyperborean captivity for a few months this all seems highly unlikely. The Other main thing is that for some reason the author decided seemingly spuriously to have the climax of the Book take place a thousand miles south of Brythunia in the deserts of Shem. Which quite frankly is ridiculous.

The Previous book, "Conan the Defiant" was a direct sequel to "The Thing in the Crypt" from the Sword to the rotting wolf pelts to the direction he was headed. The action of it and the three books which Steve Perry wrote to follow it up form something of a Tetralogy of works detailing what happened to Conan between his escape from the Hyperboreans and his winding up in Zamora for "Tower of the Elephant". And this book really dosen't seem to fit in that time span.

I feel that the knowledge exhibited by Conan, the fact that in Defiant he has decided to head south with Elashi and her absence in this story.. we are dealing with a Conan from later in his career. I will be looking for a better place to put this novel as I work my way through the rest of the works.

Location - The Town of Pirogia in the Nation of Brythunia Somewhere in the foothills of the Kezankian Mountains. And the deserts of Shem.
Characters - Conan, Yvanna, Salvorus-Captain of the gaurds, Hassem the Zamoran, Brythunian General Valatresca, King Eldram, Lamici, Madesus the Healer, Khailash the Kezankian, Kaletos, Azora the evil priestess and Sharkuel the Demonlord.
Languages known - Cimmerian, Aesir, Brythunian, Zamoran

I Unfortunately have to give this book * out of *****.. Its not badly written, its simply badly plotted and was very jarring when read after Defiant.

Up Next is Conan The Indomitable by Steve Perry.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

4. Tor Conan #31, Conan the Hunter, Part 4

Chapters 15-19

Kailash, Conan and Madesus are on their way to Innisfaln. Checking in at the local Inn hoping for some female companionship, both Conan and Kailash are disappointed. Shortly after their arrival Lamici arrives, just in time to witness the bar fight that Kailash and Conan are currently embroiled in. He uses it as an opportunity to cause mischief and stabs Madesus with a poisoned dagger. Kailash and Conan are both also injured, and before Conan can stop Lamici he runs off into the night.

The Next morning upon waking, Conan discovers Madesus is dead, and that Lamici has stolen his amulet.. the one hope of defeating Azora. Conan shows Kailash a scrap of blue silk and he realizes that the Assassin of the priest is Lamici, known for the last 150 pages to the reader but only now being discovered by the characters. Conan and Khailash visit a local priestess who aids them by telling them that Lamici has headed East. So East the duo set out, hunting new prey.

Lamici half blinded from looking at Madesus's amulet is contacted by Azora who gives him new instructions, to meet her at the fortress of Shan-e-Sorkh. Skaural has taken on new life, and while Azora is busy perusing some documents and imbibing in the fumes of the lotus he marches up to her penthouse in his fortress intent on claiming her as his bride.

A week later, Conan and Khailash are finally within half a league of catching Lamici. During a brief rest, conan has a visitation from a strange white haired apparition, who identifies himself as Denranasib of Pelishtia and who bears an amulet surprisingly similar to Madesus's. Conan realizes the man was nothing but a vision, Khailash slept through it and saw nothing. They continue on for the rest of the day hunting Lamici, and just as Conan is within darting distance to catch him and slay him, Sarkhul springs his trap. Iron spikes shoot out of the ground, one cuts Conan's leg and another spears Kailash through the foot. Before Lamici can escape, Conan tears one of the iron spikes from the ground and hurls it at him, the moment sending him clattering into the wall of the fortress.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

4. Tor Conan #31, Conan the Hunter, Part 3

Having tracked her to her lair, The Healer, Khailash, Conan set off to confront the Mutare Priestess. The Plan is simple, since no mortal blade can kill her, it's up to the healer to finish her off with a magic amulet. Though he does caution against using their true names, names apparently equal power when it comes to Thurian Age Magic.

After a few minor adventures they walk into Azora's Trap, set after Lamici had visited to alert her to the looming threat. Barely escaping the crew finds themselves in the Mutare's Alter room, though warned to watch where they step. Madesus speculates that the Priestess has escaped while they blundered about with her traps. And at the same time miles away at a Targolian fortress, the Priestess is finishing up her ritual to summon the demonlord, Skauraul master of the final secret she needs.

Out of the first mess, but still trapped in Azora's Alter Room, the group is confronted by a Demonlord. Not Skauraul but Belberorth, Apparently Azora has been a busy girl. Belberoth's power seems to lie in his voice, quickly turning Conan and Khailash against the healer. Meanwhile Azora is gaining assistance by a few of the Children of Zath, those Spiders again!

Our heroes are saved by the timely intervention of the God Targol, who banishes the Demonlord and sets the quest on its right path. The path leads them towards the deserts of Shem. But that requires supplies, so the group heads back to Pirogia.

King Eldran has improved enough to sit up and speak, He bids the group pick out what they will from the armory, horses, gold and supplies will be given them for the long journey ahead. And so they set off south to end the threat of Azora, the Mutare Preistess.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

4. Tor Conan #31, Conan the Hunter, Part 2

Conan is in the sewer heading in the vague direction of the Palace, but before arriving he is confronted by a horrible slime monster of indeterminate origin. Subduing the monster he continues on his way to the Palace. Deciding that a palace worker would not be questioned, he attempts to subdue a gardner but falls afoul a poorly places halter strap on a horse and is dragged and knocked unconscious. Meanwhile Valatresca has discovered that Hassem was plotting behind his back so he has him thrown in the dungeon by Salvorus who only an hour prior had put Conan there.

However before the thief could be deposited in the dungeon he stabs Salvorus with a poisoned Dagger and then moves to set up Conan for the murder. Conan has one of his excellent lines in this " Send me to hell, but Know I'll be waiting on you when you get there! ". Hassem admits that its General Valatresca who was actually responsible for the death of the princess, and is about to kill Conan when he is hit with a throwing dagger courtesy of Salvorus.

Salvorus unchains Conan since he knows he is innocent now and is preparing to go see the King and unearth the conspiracy when the poison, the deadly black lotus of Khitai, finally subdues him. Planning to return a good turn with another, Conan picks up the captain and his sword and hopes that Madesus can heal the Captain.

Meanwhile Madesus is visited by his old master, Kaletos. We learn that Kaletos passed on the mantle of heading a secret sect dating back to the age of the Lemurian Empire. Kaletos has journeyed to Madesus in order to show him a vision and reveal the person behind the conspiracy, a Mutare Priestess, Azora. The Mutare are an ancient and evil priestess order thought extinct since the Thurian age. Madesus startled by the revelation heads to the palace, and literally stumbles across Conan and the poisoned guard captain.

Madesus agrees to save the captain in exchange for Conan's help in defeating the Mutare Priestess. Conan agrees and the healer gets Salvorus back on his feet. The three are then confronted by General Valatresca and a horde of guardsmen. The ensuing fight is bloody and long, Salvorus's second chance is short lived as he is killed by Valatresca, but not before telling Conan to seek out Khailash the hill man and to warn the king of the conspiracy.

The Healer and the Barbarian find the Hill man and attend to the king. Having seen that he was being poisoned in his vision, the healer says its quite desperate they see him immediately. He then explains a lot of back story about his secret order and the Mutare order and its evil intentions. After Madesus leaves the royal apartments, Khailash is approached by a questioning Lamici. Having discerned he wasn't implicated in the conspiracy by Valatresca he is content to continue plotting.