Kleg is nearly home free, but hes got some pretty ticked off Treefolk and one really ticked off Cimmerian hot on his heels. And they have some pretty perturbed Pili after them. All this is headed for a conflagration at Dimma's Fortress. The men of conan's group are enchanted by the Screeches singing, this nearly proves disastrous but quick thinking saves the day. While all of this is going on the dutiful, single minded Kralix is still hunting for Kleg. Which is now bringing it back to the fortress, as at this same time Kleg has made the western gate.
Kleg sends a small creature known as a Vund to find Dimma and alert him of his return. Just after his dispatch of the Vund, the Selkie castle guards engage in a battle with Conan and the tree folk. When suddenly the Kralix appears and begins to eat a hole through the wall of the fortress as the treefolk and Pili look on. The Vund has found Dimma and he goes to meet Kleg and retrieve the talisman and complete his re-incorporation into flesh.
A particular odor alerts Kleg as to his predicament... The Kralix is still after him! Thayla is plotting against her husband, Conan and the Treefolk are making their way through the labyrinthine corridors of the fortress and battling Selkies all the way. All of this commotion disrupts Dimma's concentration on his spell, with Pili, Selkies, Treefolk, a Bellowing Barbarian and a horrible lake monster all fighting outside your parlor door He has every right to be distracted.
Rayk, king of the Pili is slain by Thaylas Treachery, Kleg is devoured by the Kralix, Conan and the treefolk slaughter many more Selkies. Thayla maddened by Conan's presence slips and falls onto her own knife, and once more Dimma is distracted from completing his spell by the lumbering Kralix which in his anger he dispatches. With just Conan and the Tree-folk remaining of the multitudinous pursuers, the confrontation with Dimma is at hand. They interrupt him again, and with a cry of "Is there no end to this?!" he wraps the heroes in magic bonds. His concentration returned, he completes the spell and regains his fleshy form. But in doing so his magic bonds on Conan weaken and he is almost immediately slain. Bad guy slain, Treefolk talisman returned, Conan once more turns his sandled feet towards the road to his penultimate goal, Shadizar.
This volume has extensive references to the previous two Steve Perry books and "The Thing in the Crypt" which makes for a nice bit of continuity, Unfortunately it suffers from the same problems I had with the other Steve Perry books.. too many creatures which some how can talk..not to mention another obscenely large cast, at least a dozen characters and four story lines were running concurrently by chapter 3.. It's simply too busy for such a short novel.. It is however despite these problems a better book than Indomitable.. though that's not hard to achieve. This one seems to serve a purpose, where as Indomitable only purpose was to clutter up Conan's route to Zamora.. and roughly provide a way to mostly get through the mountains. This also roughly follows the same storyline as the other two perry books, Magical object on the lose, multitude of different interested parties, huge cluster of competing story lines which all comes to a frothing spitting boil-over in the last 2 chapters. This one has an especially ironic ending however.. so that's at least a plus.
I don't really want to use the word Naive to describe Perry's Conan, but he does come across as being very much like a 15 year old.. He's game for just about whatever comes his way and is not yet cynical enough to not want to help those who ask it of him. A Marked contract from some of the Conan stories... However, the scenes in which Thayla extorts sex out of the Barbarian, and then Rapes him when he is under the power of a drug are extremely revolting to me. Had it been a role reversal, It no doubt would have engendered no small amount of animosity towards Steve Perry and I wonder if Tor would even have published it.
I will give this one, *
Locations - Corinthia/Zamoran Border, Mount Turio, Crater Lake, The Pili Desert, Sargasso Sea, the magic forest,
Towns/cities - Dimmas Castle, The Treefolk Village, The Village of Karatas.
Characters - Dimma The Mist Mage, Kleg the Selkie, Seg the Witchwoman, Conan The Cimmerian, Cheen the Medicine Woman, Tree Folk: Vares, Tair, Hok, Pili: Rayk and Theyla, King and Queen of the Pili And Stal the Border Warden. Karatas the Nightwatch, Seihman the swineherd.
Languages Spoken - Cimmerian, Aesir, Hyperborean, Brythunian, Zamoran