Chuck Loridans, Frank Schildiner, and Jason Scott Aiken discuss the horror fiction of Philip José Farmer, including his contribution to the Cthulhu Mythos, The Freshman, set at Miskatonic University.
Christopher Paul Carey and Meteor House graciously granted me the opportunity to read an early draft of Hadon, King of Opar. Hadon, King of Opar is the fourth book in the Khokarsa series which began with Hadon of Ancient Opar by Philip José Farmer back in 1974. Farmer wrote a sequel, Flight to Opar which followed in 1976. The conclusion to the original trilogy, The Song of Kwasin was published in 2012 in the Gods of Opar omnibus from Subterranean Press. The Song of Kwasin was co-authored by Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey. Carey also co-authored the novella, Kwasin and the Bear God with Philip José Farmer, which was first published in 2011, in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer Volume 2: Of Dust And Soul from Meteor House. It has since been reprinted in Tales of the Wold Newton Universe from Titan Books published in 2013.
In addition to co-authoring Kwasin and the Bear God and The Song of Kwasin with Farmer, Carey has also written Khokarsa tales on his own. “A Kick In the Side” was published in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer Volume 1: Protean Dimensions by Meteor House back in 2010. Exiles of Kho was published by Meteor House in 2012. Exiles of Kho is a novella written by Carey that acts a prequel to the Khokarsa series. The novella chronicles the discovery of the valley which will one day house the city of Opar.
Farmer passed the tenu (a Khokarsan broadsword to the uninitiated) to Carey, and he’s been continuing the chronicles of Khokarsa ever since. The new novella, Hadon, King of Opar continues Philip José Farmer’s saga of ancient Africa which draws from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard. The Khokarsa series shows how the ancient cities encountered by Tarzan and Alan Quatermain actually have a shared history. Farmer was inspired by an essay written by two Edgar Rice Burroughs fans, John Harwood and Frank Brueckel, called Heritage of the Flaming God. Using the concept of Africa once having an inland sea (actually two seas, joined by a straight), he engaged in some Tolkien-esque world building, and connected his vision of Ancient Africa to the works of Burroughs and Haggard. The final product is the Khokarsa series starring Hadon of Opar and Kwasin of Dythbeth.
Hadon is the main character in Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar. He doesn’t make an appearance until the epilogue of The Song of Kwasin, which as you can guess, focused on his cousin, Kwasin. I’m a big fan of Kwasin, but seeing Hadon take center stage once again feels very appropriate.
Hadon, King of Opar takes place 14 years after The Song of Kwasin. Hadon is no longer the young man from the first two books, he’s now forty years old and has a family. He’s also King of Opar. His wife, Lalila, is the Queen. But don’t worry, he hasn’t let himself go like all the other Khokarsan kings (Minruth and Gamori). Hadon is still a physical specimen. He’s a paragon of heroic fantasy, and an expert swordsman. The King and Queen aren’t the only familiar faces in the novella, though.
Paga, the manling and forger of the Ax of Victory plays a role in the story. Abeth, Lalila’s daughter by the fallen hero Wi has a part to play too. Abeth was only a toddler during the original books, and now she’s a young woman. Kohr, who is Hadon’s son by the deceased priestess Klyhy, is a young man now. It’s great seeing Kohr, someone who was literally conceived during the first Ancient Opar book, play a role in the newest novella. Kohr is now a Captain in the Queensguard and he wields the Ax of Victory which once belonged to his uncle (actually second cousin) Kwasin. Kebiwabes, the bard from the original books also plays a part in the new novella. Last, but certainly not least is La, the child of prophecy born on the final page of Flight to Opar. She is Hadon and Lalila’s daughter, and is now a priestess of Kho and a follower of the teachings of Lupoeth. Lupoeth is the warrior priestess featured in Exiles of Kho.
It’s great to not only see Hadon and Lalila again, but seeing their grown children taking part in the story really drives home the scope of the Khokarsa series, and Farmer’s original vision for it. A few new characters show up too. I’m certain they will quickly become fan favorites, but saying anymore would give it away. It’s best the reader discover them when Hadon does.
Carey does a great job in putting Hadon in an interesting situation from the very beginning of the story. Hadon, King of Opar is a fast paced tale where you follow Hadon’s movements while Opar is besieged by invaders. The action takes place in, around, and under the city, thanks to the subterranean tunnel system mentioned in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the original Ancient Opar novels written by Farmer. Carey and Hadon both cover a lot of ground in this novella in regards to Opar’s geography. The vast amount of research into the Opar related Edgar Rice Burroughs tales, and Farmer’s Ancient Opar stories is very evident in the text. Carey’s research, and spot on prose has allowed him to craft a great piece of action and adventure set around Opar. I don’t think there is a person on the planet more knowledgeable about the city of Opar and Khokarsa than Carey.
Carey takes great care in the mythology and history Farmer established for the series and brings elements of both into the new novella. For instance, tensions between the priests of Resu (the Sun God) and priestesses of Kho (The Mother Goddess) are still present even during Lalila and Hadon’s reign. I also enjoyed the scenes featuring Togana’no. He’s a Gokakko, one of the neanderthal people who live in shanty towns within Ancient Opar. Farmer wrote about the Gokakko in the original Ancient Opar books, and Carey developed them further in Exiles of Kho. It’s quite a contrast to see how the Gokakko are treated by Lupoeth in Exiles of Kho compared to how the people of Opar treat them in the Ancient Opar books.
When reading Hadon, King of Opar, it felt like I was reading a lost work of Philip José Farmer himself. Carey’s talent as a writer, knowledge of the works of Burroughs, Haggard, and Farmer, his education in anthropology, and interest in linguistics has allowed him to continue the Khokarsa series with the same skill and passion as Farmer. The Khokarsa series is something both authors are going to be remembered for.
If you’re a fan of Khokarsa, Hadon, King of Opar should vault to the top of your reading list. Look at that Bob Eggleton cover; who wouldn’t want that on their bookshelf alongside the rest of the Khokarsa series? Besides an amazingly well done piece of cover art, you’re also going to get a great story.
Reading Hadon, King of Opar is like catching up with some old friends you haven’t seen in a while, then going on an adventure with them. If you’re new to Khokarsa, and are working on getting caught up, I would still preorder this book immediately. Meteor House prints a limited number of their releases, so you don’t want to miss out. Head to the Meteor House website and get your order in to guarantee your place in the party. Then return to Ancient Opar and join Hadon on another adventure.
Christopher Paul Carey joins me in discussing his new novella, Hadon, King of Opar, now available for pre-order from Meteor House. This is the all-new fourth volume in Philip José Farmer’s Khokarsa (Ancient Opar) series. Chris fills us in on how the story came into existence, his writing process, and what Hadon’s up to. We took great care in not discussing spoilers.
I was able to review an advanced review copy of an early draft, and this novella has my highest recommendation. Look for my review next week on http://pulpcrazy.com.
Hadon, King of Opar is now available for pre-order from Meteor House. It’s available in both hardcover and softcover format at the link below.
In this week episode I’m going to be discussing the World of Tiers series written by Philip José Farmer. I finished reading this series a few weeks back and I thought it would be a good time to do an episode on the series while it was still fresh in my memory. Besides the novels written by Philip José Farmer, I’ll also be discussing World of Tiers fiction written by other authors since Farmer passed away.
I’m not going to be giving away any spoilers in this episode. I’m going to give you a nice idea of what the World of Tiers series is about, though.
First I’ll start off with an overview and give some background information on the series. The theme of the series revolves around an advanced race of beings known as Lords. They are also called the Thoan, and Farmer refers to them early on as the Vaernirn. He abandons the term Vaernirn, though and sticks with calling them either Lords or Thoan in the rest of the books. In this episode I will just be calling them Lords to make it easier.
The Lords are advanced beings who are human in appearance. However, they have at their fingertips vastly advanced technology. This includes immortality without aging past their prime, being able to construct artificial pocket universes, traveling between universes via gates, bio engineering, terraforming, gravity manipulation, the list goes on. It should be noted that within each Pocket Universe there is only one planet, but the planet can have orbiting satellites.
In this weeks episode I’m going to be discussing a story that has had a huge influence on pulp and popular literature. King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard. The novel was first published in September 1885. Haggard wrote King Solomon’s Mines following a bet with his brother. The wager was whether or not Haggard could write a novel half as good as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
According to wikipedia it took him between six and sixteen weeks to complete the novel between January and April 21st 1885. The book had a hard time finding a publisher, it was overlooked as a novelty. When it saw print, it became the year’s best seller, and proved difficult to keep in print given the great demand for copies.
King Solomon’s Mines stars Allan Quatermain. A character that has seen a bit of a resurgence in the last ten years.
In this weeks episode I’ll be getting into the holiday spirit with Krampusnacht by Josh Reynolds. It’s a short story that features The Royal Occultist, Charles St. Cyprian and his apprentice Ebe Gallowglass.
St. Cyprian holds the post of the Royal Occultist, sometimes called the Queen’s Conjurer. The post was first held by the historical figure, John Dee, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Other notable Royal Occultists include the First Earl of Holderness, as well as Thomas Carnacki the Ghost-Finder.
The Royal Occultist is an ongoing series of stories. Reynold’s has written both short fiction and novels based around The Royal Occultist. There have been numerous pieces of short fiction published, with more on the way. The two novels are The White Chapel Demon and the recently released The Jade Suit of Death. As of this episode, the adventures take place between 1913 and 1925. In the three of the earlier tales, St. Cyprian is working alongside Carnicki as his apprentice. However, the meat of the series seems to take place in the early to mid 1920’s.
The series definitely falls into the occult detective subsection of Weird Fiction, but it also has ties into the Wold Newton Universe of Philip Jose Farmer.