Thursday, June 8, 2017
The BookWyrm's Review of King of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Steven L. Shrewsbury
Authors: Brian Keene and Steven L. Shrewsbury
Publisher: Apex Book Company (paper and ebook)/ Beacon Audiobooks (audio)
Release Date: July 21st, 2015 (paper and ebook)/ May 12, 2017 (audio)
Length: 163 pages /5 hrs, 23 mins
Narrated by Doug Greene
I picked this up on a whim, liking the idea that someone wrote an unabashed old school pulp fantasy. I wasn't disappointed! This reads like an old RE Howard Conan book, only one where Conan had his kingdom, tired of the throne and passed his kingdom on to his heir to rule while he want back out and had more adventures. All this takes place in a pre Hyperborea Earth, so some of the countries and places will sound similar. If that sounds intriguing, this is the book for you.
While on a fishing trip off one of his old ally states, Rogan, retired king, in a bireme of all things, has his ship attacked by a tentacled horror, pirates, and then zombies after the ship is destroyed. Before the ship sank, though, Rogan is told by the lead pirate he was sent by Rogan's unknown bastard son, and he has conquered his kingdom and imprisoned the rightful king, and are raping and pillaging across his kingdom.
They end up on a beach in unfamiliar territory and discover a tribe of natives. The native, and a group of Amazons who happen to be staying with the natives, agree to help them get home if they get rid of the evil necromancer and his demon on the top of the local mountain. Well, needs must, so if off to slay the wizard.
What follows is a wild trip to the mountain, with the invertible co mingling with the Amazons, with hilarious results.The climb up the mountain is crazy, and the fight after involving magic, strange science and even a dash of time travel is just gonzo fun. This being pulp fiction, you can probably figure out how it ends. It is a lot of fun right through to the end.
The characters are all larger than life Conan archetypes. Rogan is big, powerful and an epic warrior, even pushing 60. His nephew and aide is also an epic warrior. The Amazons are all beautiful, even with the one breast missing (traditional Amazons) and great warriors, all while being wildcats in bed. This is certainly not a PC kind of title. Its much more old school, and I think it is an under served market in the current marketplace. While they may be over the top, they are entertaining. The settings are well thought out and described, and fit the story well. The plot is fast paced, and relies on a lot of action to keep things moving.You just don't see this kind of book written too much anymore, sadly.
Doug Greene's narration was solid, keeping the story moving and giving the characters their own voices. Very good effort on his part.
If you are into the kind of fantasy RE Howard was writing, this is something you may want to check out. I know I am looking forward to any sequels.