Friday, February 13, 2009
As many Conan fans know, the Conan pastiche novels can really be hit or miss. Some are excellent (Robert Jordan) and some are steaming piles of giant snake poo (anything by Steve Perry). For the most part, the vast majority of the pastiche novels fall comfortably in the middle. None of them will ever please the Howard-purists, and I understand that. But for those of us that can appreciate the different takes an author can give on the Conan character and just like a good rip-roarin' tale of battles, wenches and treasures, the pastiches can often provide.
This is definitely the case with Conan the Hunter, by Sean A. Moore. Like Moore's other Conan novels, Conan and the Grim Grey God and Conan and the Shaman's Curse, this novel read like Moore wrote down all of the more adventurous high points of his latest Dungeons & Dragons campaign, added Conan into the story and then wrapped it all up with tidy, quick-reading prose. Moore is always very mindful of fully developing the other characters in his stories. In fact, there were parts of the novel when the star of the story would shift briefly, going into deeper detail about a supporting character that will become important to Conan's story later in the book. This development just helps the reader better identify with why Conan would befriend this particular person, or instantly distrust this other person. Also, Moore's takes on Conan always seem to have a bit more adventure and fantasy added to them than many other authors', and I always seem to finish his books going, "Phew! What a ride!"
The story in a nutshell starts out with Conan getting set up for a murder and robbery he didn't commit, then he gets his arm broken, then healed, then murders some Brythunian city guards for picking a fight with the wrong barbarian, then battles a hideous one-eyed, pustulent tentacled beast is the sewers, and this is just the beginning of the story!
He later teams up with a Kenzankian hillman and a priest of Mitra to hunt down one nasty, vampiric she-bitch of a sorceress who used dark magic to sap the life from the new King of Brythunia. And this hussy is a piece of work. Part witch, part vampire and all evil.
There are deadly bar brawls, living gods made of molten bronze, silver-tongued demons, razor-clawed gargoyles, talking green-eyed spiders and page after page of broken bones and spilled blood.
So if you want to sink your teeth into a gritty, fantastic Conan novel, read this one as soon as you can.
And that's all I have to say about that, by Crom!