Jump to content

Thongor! Brak! Lankar! Kothar!


Recommended Posts

Well Jakes did go on to write " The North and South " and achieved a considerable following for his " Kent Family " series.. Hes no Lin Carter thats for sure.

Brak is generally considered the best of the Clo-nans I think anyway..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Better than Lin Carter" is not MUCH of an accolade, to be fair... but yes, the quality of this seems, so far, at least a little higher than our previous barbarian sagas. I'm sure there is cheese a-plenty to be found though...

Anyways, Brak spends the next page or so looking at the twins and marvelling at their twin-ness; they are young, pale and dark-haired, with an eerie aura about them that makes his palms prickle. Brak is also uncomfortable with how pretty the guy is; I leave you to draw your own conclusions from this.

The twins are not only pale and creepy, but also incredibly slow and frail, as if they were afflicted with some dire malady, but eventually Brak gets them to a bit of minimal shelter to spend the night (he's still all concussed and injured from his lame bird battle). He gets a fire going and drinks some wine, then it's Exposition Time!

He told a little of his journeys since leaving his homeland. Told of how he was bound to seek his fortune in the warm climes of Khurdishan far southward; of the beginnings of his wanderings when his own people cast him out for mocking their gods. But of his encounter with Septegundus, minister of the evil god Yob-Haggoth, and of Septegundus's vengeful vow to stop him from reaching his goal, he said nothing.

Then it's the twins' turn to fill in the backstory; they are, apparently, Ky and Kya, exiled heirs to the throne of Jovis, after having been conspired against by their Wicked UncleTM... they wander from country to country, occasionally selling one of their jewels whenever necessary, but on their latest journey they had blah landslide blah bird-thing's eggs, yeah we got that part.

Brak, the lightweight, is already drunk and slurring, but the twins refuse to share his wine and he gets all pissy about it. They are still being creepy, too:

Brak wiped his mouth with his hand. He felt unhappy. Uneasy. Perhaps it was because he'd expected so much, had felt so elated finding others lost up here. To have them turn out to be such a curious pair was disheartening.

And it was not simply that they were of a station far above his. He'd met lords before, and got along in their company. This pale pair frankly alarmed him.

Nothing in their manner was threatening. Just the opposite. The very absence of emotion, coupled with the unreal perfection of their features, made him wonder about the thoughts hidden behind their shining eyes. The singsong recitation of their exiling had sounded too pat, too rehearsed.

Suspicions notwithstanding, he falls into a drunken stupor, but before long he awakens - sorta - to the sound of strange and eerie music, and a disturbingly realistic dream...

In one of those dreams something touched his throat.

Something crept on the flesh of his neck like the legs of an insect. Touching. Exploring.

A hand.

A hand cupping itself around the muscular column of his neck.

A hand stroking -

Stop it, you pervs!

He awakes with a start to find that it is already dawn. The twins are innocently asleep, but Brak's spine crawls with inexplicable foreboding.......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a barbarian in a desert on the way to nowhere in particular...

Yob-Haggoth makes me think of Hob-Nobs, with their elusive saltiness the most evil and divine biscuits ever manufactured. Then the twins come from the Kingdom of Hovis. Then there's the cheese and the wine, which someone thoughtfuly brought with them through the desert and preserved intact through the fight with the bird thing...Could this be a trend and will this going to be a novel or a picnic?

Or did Mr Fox and Mr Jakes discuss starting new barbarian novels over a dinner long ago and far away?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 - Caravan into Darkness

Now it's the next day, and Brak spends another page and a half being disturbed by the twins; Ky's lifeless voice disturbs him, he finds something unpleasant in Kya's faintly slanted pearl eyes, there is something faintly foul about their slow limpidness, etc etc. He's also getting hungry (no food left) so he starts turning into a whiny bitch as the day goes on, grumbling and cursing with every step, but eventually he finds the edge of the plateau, and looks forward to entering the Desert of Logol, which is apparently full of pleasant oases. Brackish water! Palm fruit! Yay!

Another night of camping (Brak snuggles with his broadsword and has no more dreams of singing or ghostly hands) and then they head down to the desert, where Brak spots a caravan! (who'da thunk?)

A caravan scout rides out to meet them, but he turns out to be an unpleasant fellow:

With a flourish he ruffled up the tip of his red beard. "My name is Gorzhov, outlander. With due respect to my position, you will address me as Captain."

Brak bristled. "Captain of what? Not much, to judge by that coat."

Kya unexpectedly touched Brak's arm. Her fingers were cool. "Don't anger him."

With due respect to Jakes, the characterisation of Brak comes across pretty well in this exchange; he's portrayed as tired, hungry, grumpy and unnecessarily rude. I mean, it's no GRRM, but compared to our last few barbarians it's a step above. Though he does lose barbarian points for focusing his criticism on Gorzhov's fashion sense. That coat is soooo last season.

Anyway, the caravan turns out to contain a rather paltry 25 dromedaries, laden with chests and bales, under the ministrations of caravan-master Hadrios. He is a genial white-bearded chap, much nicer than Captain Gorzhov, and he also has a lusty wench of a daughter that Brak seems to like the look of.

The wench standing beside the trader gave a nod and a pleasant smile. Brak smiled in return, for she was a strapping, well-formed girl with tawny hair and grey eyes. She wore a tight jacket, a colourful skirt and desert boots. Bangles jangled on her arms. Unadorned by the kind of paint Brak had seen on the faces of women in cities, Helane's mouth was full and red and pleasant.

They all get some food as night falls, and he lets his eye wander down the curve of her bosom (she smiles back in lusty good humour). What is it with these independently-moving eyes? Do all barbarians have them? Anyway, Gorzhov tries it on with her and she gives him short shrift, so he goes off to sulk. I can see where this may lead.

Talk around the campfire about Hadrios's previous fortunes; he's only risking the desert at this dangerous time of year because of some previous difficulty with some ethnic stereotypes:

"He means," said Helane softly, "the horsemen of Quran."

When Brak said he was unfamiliar with the name, Hadrios snorted. "Brigands, that's all they are. Quran squats in the middle of this damned waste, a city-kingdom of desert robbers older than time or sin. You've never seen a man of Quran? You'd know if you had. When the boys come of age, one eye is gouged out and replaced with a ruby. The ritual makes them prideful and savage. The Red King - Ibrahim, he's called - and his woman Queen Shar are reputed to be fierce fighters. And just like all their people, they're wondrously strong. Living on Logol makes it so."

Ky and Kya are strangely (and creepily) interested in the sound of these brigands.

"My sister admires strength, Master Hadrios. And I also. We envy the outlander's powerful body and the life it holds."

Brak is embarrassed by this, as you would be; Ky returns to picking listlessly at his food. Then Hadrios tells of a strange giant man among the Quran, called Stoneeyes, who has not one but TWO ruby eyes, and somehow this makes him more dangerous(?). At this, Brak volunteers his services as a caravan guard as far as Samarind, which should pay for both his own passage and that of the twins (somehow forgetting about their jewel-encrusted clothing); of course his decision has nothing to do with Helane and her sweet mouth...

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'm sorry its in German, but the US editions that I have didn't come with maps, I've been meaning to try and translated it as best I can but have just not considered it that important..

Just like my best map for Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser is in French..

*edit* hurm .. not showing up for some reason.

Ok I give up.. is there some sort of trick to posting images on this forum that I don't know about?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

img tags are disabled here, alas. Try this?

Oh I see, yes that works thanks.

I've got a whole bunch of maps from these various books you are reading.. I've got one from Thongor too but its really such a crappy map I saw no reason to upload it. I don't have one for Kothar though. but I think I also have a Timeline for Brak if you are interested.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is actually making me want to read the Brak book. I have a fairly high tolerance for literary cheese and the book sounds like it might be even be enjoyable non-ironically.

Also, Brak's Mary Sue quotient is showing an all time low for barbarians in this thread, and the glittering vampire twins show imagination beyond just plugging in some generic demon animal monster or some generic evil sorcerer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@rabbits, many thanks for the map! At least now we know where we're going (kinda).

@Nerdanel: Do not endanger yourself mentally! Resist temptation! Stay with us on the mockery side of things and we will try to see that you do not come to harm. B)

Next up: another unworldly, laser-eyed being ... bet?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not everyone is thrilled at the news that Brak will be taking over as head of the caravan boys - specifically not Civix, the weaselly chap whose job Brak is now taking. He spits a couple of times and casts aspersions on Brak's provenance and intelligence (well, he calls him a "northern thick-head", anyway), then tries to attack him when his back is turned. Of course, Brak manages to dodge the attack effortlessly, then disarm Civix and pin him to the ground, warning that the next time he tries such a thing will be his last! Obviously he is more effective against weaselly caravan staff than against giant bird-things. Then it's off to the crone for a bit of light prophesying.

Mother Mil is our mad prophetess, apparently Hadrios's aunty who he brings along in case he needs a seer or some magic potions. In proper crone fashion, she has lank hair, no teeth, and her eyes have rolled up into her head as she slobbers and babbles some mystical-sounding nonsense.

Bubbles of spit popped on the old woman's hairy upper lip. Head thrown back, hands locked tight and white together in her lap, she shivered and muttered. Brak's palms began to itch as he understood a little of what she was saying.

"We go into the dark. We ride to the dark. A stranger leads us to the dark - "

At this point, we also meet the final caravan member, Friar Pol, of the Nestorian order; Brak is wary of priests, so is happy to concentrate on the old woman instead, until she starts babbling about some "savage man" who will "bring the evil down"... uh-oh. Eventually she passes out and everyone gives Brak suspicious looks, and he goes to sleep among the camels out of pique.

But not for long! Soon he awakes to the sound of a raw, uneven cry, full of bubbles and gasps. A scream of vile pain and suffering. It is Mother Mil!


Dare I say it? Brak is, against all expectation, turning out to be (whisper it) actually quite good! Though I don't really know if that's an objective judgement, or if I've just been so spoiled by the craptacular previous books and have lost all sense of quality... there are still cliches a-plenty, but the fact that the characters have motivations that make sense, and the geography kinda works, and we're not being lambasted with a thesaurus or any other overdescriptiveness - it's a breath of fresh air!

Still, bad books make for better entertainment, so I may start knocking Brak out a little quicker so we can get to something more snark-worthy. Back to Dave's Bookshop tomorrow, I'll see what marvels I can get hold of this time!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steady on Mother Min! We're only three chapters in, surely plenty of time for cliches and clumsiness yet?

Why just look, that there plot looks similar to the Doctor Who episodes of my misspent youth: stranger arrives, venerable person dies, stranger is suspected, search to clear name and find guilty party.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well then!

3 - Into the Valley of the Hell-pits

Brak ran with the dawn wind splashing his face. Shadows and voices kept pace with him. In the east the dunes were edged a sickly salmon colour.

But, he is too late! By the time they find Mother Mil, there is not a whole lot left - there's a stringy, raggish thing dangling from a tree, flapping in the breeze; she's been put through some kind of juicer, and had every last drop of moisture squeezed out of her! The only marks apparent are three dots in a triangle, indicating some kind of demon... and Brak also notices that Mother Mil's magic potions are missing!

They burn what's left of the body and the caravan moves on; Civix is still causing trouble but Brak decides to ignore him for now. The desert is overcast(?) and the wind is rising with a foretaste of the Skulwind, but not everyone is miserable:

Ky and Kya travelled heavily muffled and sat in the doorway of their pavilion in the evenings, saying little. The barbarian noticed that they seemed a bit plumper and healthier since their return to a degree of civilisation. One time he caught Kya watching him with a strange little smile. Though he didn't feel like it, he smiled in return. Spots of colour brightened her lovely cheeks.

Nope, not at all suspicious! I do hope that the twins' inevitable evilness is not going to be sprung on us as a "surprise" somewhere down the line.

A couple more days go by (this attention to geographic detail is most welcome! Not everything is within a day's ride, and extra days of travel are not just added to allow for an additional battle or two!), and Brak decides to quiz the friar on what he thinks is going on. Friar Pol, however, is evasive.

Friar Pol coughed into one hand. "I - do not speculate on the cause."

"Your eyes say otherwise."

Stung, Pol glanced up. Brak towered over him, a huge, mighty-thewed figure jogging on the dromedary. The Friar's suspicion and even outright fear showed plainly on his face. He hid his emotions with effort.

"Private speculation is one thing, barbarian. Voicing it is another. I'm not sure whether all the ears are friendly in this conglomeration of pilgrims. Until I know for certain, I intend to keep my thought to myself. Especially since your manner makes it clear that you believe men of my persuasion are contemptible."

And off he rides, leaving Brak in the dust and none the wiser. I hope Pol isn't the next one to get eaten! Or perhaps he'll be lucky, and then Brak can learn a valuable lesson about not trusting men based on their priestliness?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...