At Fort Zheman, Sergeant Kemal has begun preparations for the coming attack, Bringing in all the civilians but not the live stock. The last thing they need are fevers and fluxes running rampant in the cramped quarters. They know that sometime in the next few days Eramius will throw the full weight of his Transformed at the fortress. Kemal has also sent runners to those officials he knows he can trust, hoping for reinforcements.
Never one to sit around and wait, Conan opts to take a group of men out and bring the fight to Eramius. Illyana and Rhaina go with him, along with the boy Bora who plans to lead them to the valley where he knows Eramius's alter to be. They follow a mountain stream further and further into ever winding valleys. After a good bit of traveling they finally draw near to the valley where Eramius is at. Conan and Rhaina creeping into a good position, draw their bows and let fly at the Transformed who are milling about.
They shoot a good number of them before Eramius reacts, they then flee back into the higher passes and hole up in a cave. He does his best to block the entrance, knowing they only have a matter of time before Eramius sends his minions to attack them. Using the time they have, Illyana beings to prepare a magical offense to be used against Eramius. As soon as night falls, they are attacked by the Transformed. Conan goes out, leaving Rhaina to shoot their remaining arrows. Illyana attacks with her full magical might.
Conan sneaks through Eramius's camp, eventually coming upon the mad sorcerer himself. He surprises the man, and quickly slices at him with his sword before the shock of it wears off. With Eramius dead, Conan heads back to the cave to collect the others. With the sorcerer gone, his foul creations cease living also. Conan, Rhaina, Illyana and Bora head back to the fort, and from there the original three companions set off back to Agraphur.
For all the horrid things I've heard about Roland Green, this book was something of a surprise. It was easily better than all but one of Steve Perry's books. At least as good as two of the three Leonard Carpenter's I've read so far as well. But not as good as anything that Sean A. Moore or Robert Jordan wrote. It's perhaps only because my expectations were so low that it wasn't as bad as I feared. The story line more or less made complete sense, though it was rather annoying to have yet another evil sorcerer and yet another magical gewgaw. These things are clearly very standard in the Conan yarns produced by both Tor and Bantam/Ace.
I'd have preferred it have been just a political thriller, rather than involving magic. That aspect of the story was much more interesting.
Having now read my first Roland Green novel, this still leaves me with one of the more prolific Tor authors unread, John Maddox Roberts, but soon I'll be catching up with him.
Up Next, one of the more atrocious of the novels I've already read. Conan and the Spider-God by L. Sprague and Catherine DeCamp.