Tag Archives: fantasy

Review: Night’s Dominion #1 by Ted Naifeh

Night's Dominion #1 cover by Ted Naifeh
Night’s Dominion #1 cover by Ted Naifeh

 

Night’s Dominion #1

Written & Illustrated by Ted Naifeh

Lettered by Aditya Bidikar

Edited by Robin Herrera

Designed by Keith Wood

Publisher: Oni Press

Night’s Dominion wasn’t on my radar until a post by a fellow member of the Comic Book Art of Conan the Barbarian Facebook group posted an interview with the creator, Ted Naifeh. The elevator pitch seemed to be superheroes operating in a fantasy world. I thought the concept sounded fairly interesting and the artwork showcased in the interview really sold me on giving it a try.  I made sure to add the book to my pull list at my local comic shop. The release of the first issue kind of snuck up on me, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it came out this week.

As far as first issues go, this one was pretty solid. We’re introduced to the cast of characters as well as the setting, the medieval-styled city of Umber. I get the impression Umber is a sister city of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar and Sanctuary, the primary setting of the Thieves’ World shared universe series.

The first issue does a good job of blending both the fantasy genre and super hero genre (or, at least so far, the urban vigilante sub-genre) together. It introduces us to the main characters via the “adventuring party meets at a tavern or inn” mechanism sometimes used in fantasy role-playing games. While not the most original way to do it, it’s definitely the most convenient way to bring a large, diverse group of characters together quickly.

Members of the party include its leader, a white-haired bard referred to as Maestro, an unnamed “magus” whose specialty is implied to be illusions and parlor tricks, a unnamed young cleric, who is an acolyte of something referred to as the Old Faith, an unnamed assassin from an organization known as the House of the Asps, and the barmaid, Emerane, who is secretly the best thief in the city, moonlighting under the alter ego of the Night.

The Maestro’s plan is for the group to rob the Tower of Uhlume, a temple where the titular King of Oblivion is worshiped. They plan to get to the treasure stores in the tower’s subbasement via a concealed shaft.

Emerane declines the job stating she doesn’t work with amateurs. She leaves the tavern after a brawl erupts, but her and the assassin have a brief martial encounter on her way home and a conversation. But Emerane departs soundlessly, leaving the assassin alone.

Enter the Fury
Enter the Fury

Later in the guise of the Night, Emerane returns a necklace to her stash of stolen loot in the belfry of a chapel and encounters the Fury. He’s the armored Batman-looking figure seen in the preview artwork. They have a brief tussle and conversation before Emerane eludes him. I get a definite Batman and Catwoman vibe from these two. It’s not clear if the Fury is a vigilante or works in some capacity with the government or city watch, but I look forward to learning more about him in future issues.

 

The Fury in pursuit of the Night
The Fury in pursuit of the Night

The next scene shows the cleric returning to his chapel, this is the same one which the Night used as a stash for her loot. City guards are confiscating the hoard as the head priest is crying on the steps. It was mentioned earlier that the Old Faith was hard up for money and it was goons looking to collect from the young cleric that were the catalysts of the tavern brawl.

The final scene shows Emerane, as the Night, meeting the group of adventurers at the arranged meeting spot and agreeing to join in the heist.

This was my first time reading a comic created by Ted Naifeh, but I have to admit, I like what I see. I enjoy the way he renders his characters and his panel to panel storytelling skills shown he’s been illustrating sequential art for some time. The artwork and storytelling get high marks from me.

From a writing perspective, I enjoyed how there wasn’t a lot of info dumping, Naifeh does a good job of layering information subtlety through the course of the story. Such as facts about the politics of Umber, including its royal family. There’s plenty yet to be revealed about the city of Umber and the main cast of characters, though.

This first issue has me intrigued, and I’m on board for at least the first six issues. I wish there were more fantasy comics like this on the stands and I want to do my part in supporting quality comics like this when they do pop up.

Review: Blood of Ancient Opar by Christopher Paul Carey

Bob Eggleton's cover to Blood of Ancient Opar

Bob Eggleton’s cover to Blood of Ancient Opar

Last year I was lucky to obtain an advanced reader copy of Hadon, King of Opar by Christopher Paul Carey before its release at PulpFest 2015. PulpFest 2016 is just around the corner and once again Meteor House provided Pulp Crazy with an advanced reader copy of the latest novella in Philip Jose Farmer’s Khokarsa (Ancient Opar) series, Blood of Ancient Opar by Christopher Paul Carey.

Blood of Ancient Opar picks up immediately following the massive cliffhanger of Hadon, King of Opar. Hadon and his allies have triumphed over the forces of the Mikawaru pirates who had invaded Opar in Hadon, King of Opar (with the Priests of Resu and the Oracle of Kho assisting the raiders), but Hadon’s troubles are far from over.

His daughter La reveals an ancient prophecy to Hadon and the two of them spend the rest of the novella trying to make sense of it and use it to their advantage against an emerging threat.

Blood of Ancient Opar is a fast-paced adventure that once again has the reader side-by-side with Hadon throughout the course of the story. This is one of those tales that is tough to review, as I don’t want to spoil some major events that occur in the book, but I can discuss some portions.

During the course of the book, Hadon finds himself in the valley adjoining Opar, the Valley of the Royals. Here, Hadon visits the Palace of Queens, which readers of Tarzan and the Golden Lion will likely find very familiar. The wonderful cover painting by Bob Eggleton depicts this event. The chapters set at the royal retreat were some of my favorites, as it was fun to visit an all-new location in Ancient Opar alongside Hadon.

On a grimmer note, needless to say, before the events of Hadon, King of Opar, the queendom was already facing hard times. As Blood of Ancient Opar begins, the city is in an even worse situation. Hadon and La really have their work cut out for them if they hope to get Opar back on track.

Using Farmer’s notes, Carey skillfully executes the kind of fantasy adventure tale you just don’t see much of anymore. His contributions to the Khokarsa/Ancient Opar series feel right at home sitting beside Farmer’s original Ancient Opar books on my bookshelf and I feel fortunate to see the series continue in such great hands. Blood of Ancient Opar is everything I hoped it would be.

This is a tale of heroic fantasy skillfully brought to life through the pen and mind of a writer intimately familiar with the source material. Blood of Ancient Opar hearkens back to classic sword and sorcery adventures of the past while displaying a mastery of modern fiction writing. One thing thing is for sure, readers familiar with Opar will never look at the lost city the same way again.

Blood of Ancient Opar will be debut July 21st at PulpFest 2016 / FarmerCon XI in Columbus, Ohio. The novella is available for preorder in both softcover and hardcover formats at http://meteorhousepress.com/blood-of-ancient-opar/ . It’s highly recommend you preorder now if you want to guarantee a copy. Meteor House is also offering the remaining copies of Hadon, King of Opar for sale as well. The two novellas can be purchased together while supplies last.

Pulp Crazy – The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H. P. Lovecraft

http://pulpcrazy.com/podcast/151.mp3

In this week’s episode I discuss The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft. Randolph Carter searches through the Dreamlands for Kadath, where the gods of the Dreamlands dwell. This novella was never prepared for publication by HPL and wasn’t published during his lifetime. I found it a bit hard to get into, but enjoyed reading it ten pages at a time.

Links:

Free Complete Works of H. P. Lovecraft eBook from Cthulhuchick: http://arkhamarchivist.com/free-complete-lovecraft-ebook-nook-kindle/

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath audio book: https://archive.org/details/LovecraftKadath

The Lovecraft e-Zine: http://lovecraftzine.com

Pulp Crazy – The Master Mind of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

http://pulpcrazy.com/podcast/149.mp3

In this week’s episode I discuss the sixth book in the Barsoom saga, The Master Mind of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Mars will be close to Earth on May 30th – http://www.space.com/33014-mars-closest-approach-2016-on-monday.html

Edgar Rice Burroughs Website: https://www.edgarriceburroughs.com/

ERBzine – http://erbzine.com/

The John Carter Files – http://thejohncarterfiles.com/

Pulp Crazy – Delenda Est by Robert E. Howard

http://pulpcrazy.com/podcast/147.mp3

In honor of Pulp Crazy’s Three Year Anniversary, I’m going to be discussing a story by my favorite pulp writer, “Delenda Est” by Robert E. Howard. This is a tale of historical fiction with supernatural elements, focusing on Genseric, the King of the Vandals as he sails from Carthage to Rome around 455 A.D.

Read “Delenda Est” in:

The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard – http://www.amazon.com/Horror-Stories-Robert-Howard/dp/0345490207

Swords of the North – http://www.rehfoundation.org/2014/11/05/swords-of-the-north/

Genseric – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genseric

The Swords of Robert E. Howard Forum: http://swordsofreh.proboards.com/

The Robert E. Howard Foundation: http://www.rehfoundation.org/

Pulp Crazy – Swords in the Mist (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Book 3) by Fritz Leiber

 

http://pulpcrazy.com/podcast/146.mp3

In this week’s episode I’ll be discussing Swords in the Mist, Book 3 of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser sword and sorcery tales by Fritz Leiber. The collection includes five short stories and one novella. In my mind the stand out tale is the short story, “Lean Times in Lankhmar.”

Links:

Purchase Swords in the Mist from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Swords-Mist-Fafhrd-Gray-Mouser-ebook/dp/B00J84KVA8/

Purchase Swords in the Mist from Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Swords-in-the-Mist-Audiobook/B002V1NRCE

Siege of Tyre at the Ancient History Encyclopedia: http://www.ancient.eu/article/107/

A Fritz Leiber Site: http://www.lankhmar.co.uk/

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser at Stormbringer: http://www.stormbringer.net/mouser.html

Pulp Crazy – Swords against Death (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Book 2) by Fritz Leiber

http://pulpcrazy.com/podcast/143.mp3

In this week’s episode of Pulp Crazy, I discuss Swords against Death by Fritz Leiber. This is Book 2 of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Series. The collection is comprised of 10 pieces of short fiction. It’s notable for the first appearances (from an internal chronological standpoint) of Sheelba of the Eyeless Face and Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, the patron warlocks of The Gray Mouser and Fafhrd respectively. Swords against Death also includes the cleverly titled, “Bazaar of the Bizarre.”

Links:

Purchase Swords against Death via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Swords-Against-Death-Fafhrd-Mouser-ebook/dp/B00J84KUAE/

Purchase Swords against Death via Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Swords-Against-Death-Audiobook/B002V0LZAQ/

A Fritz Leiber Site: http://www.lankhmar.co.uk/

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser at Stormbringer: http://www.stormbringer.net/mouser.html 

Pulp Crazy – The Dark Eidolon by Clark Ashton Smith

http://pulpcrazy.com/podcast/136.mp3

In this week’s episode, in honor of Clark Ashton Smith’s birthday (January 13, 1893), I’ll be discussing “The Dark Eidolon.” It first appeared in the January 1935 issue of Weird Tales, and is probably the Zothique story that carries the most name recognition.

It tells of Namirrha, a powerful sorcerer who returns to his home city in order to exact revenge on its ruler for a boyhood transgression.

Links:

Read “The Dark Eidolon” on the Eldritch Dark: http://www.eldritchdark.com/writings/short-stories/212/the-dark-eidolon

Purchase The Dark Eidolon and Other Stores: http://www.amazon.com/Eidolon-Other-Fantasies-Penguin-Classics/dp/0143107380/

Purchase The Maze of the Enchanter:  http://www.amazon.com/Enchanter-Collected-Fantasies-Clark-Ashton/dp/1597800317/

Purchase Tales of Zothique (Necronomicon Press): http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Zothique-Clark-Ashton-Smith/dp/0940884712 | http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&tn=Tales+of+Zothique

Clark Ashton Smith at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clark_Ashton_Smith

The Eldritch Dark Website: http://www.eldritchdark.com/

The Double Shadow Podcast: http://thedoubleshadow.com/