Sunday, August 23, 2015

Exiles of Kho (Christopher Paul Carey, Meteor House, 2015)

Onwards and upwards, readers, onwards and upwards! Having finished Time's Last Gift, I launched almost immediately into the next of the Khokarsan prequels, the novella Exiles of Kho, by Christopher Paul Carey.  Set thousands of years after the events of Time's Last Gift, and hundreds of years before Philip Jose Farmer's first novel of Ancient Opar, Hadon of Ancient Opar (which I've started reading in the time between finishing Exiles of Kho and beginning this blogpost...I'm behind on my blogging, sorry!)

Exiles follows the warrior-priestess Lupoeth as she embarks on a quest seemingly ordained by the goddess Kho herself, that Lupoeth take the seed of the nethkarna, the Tree of Life, south across Africa's southern inland see and found a new oracular temple on the far side.  For the new queen, who has usurped the throne that was rightfully Lupoeth's, this is an opportunity to get rid of a troublesome rival permanently: she assigns a corrupt priest of the sun god Resu to accompany Lupoeth and undermine her in any way he can, and the expedition is under-supplied and manned exclusively by people who have earned the queen's dislike.

The only thing Lupoeth really has on her side, besides an indomitable will to persevere, is the Gray-Eyed Archer; the exiled god Sahhindar, the god of time, bronze and plants; he finds and accompanies Lupoeth for his own purposes, and she begins to feel less and less like a priestess of Kho and more and more like a pawn in Sahhindar's machinations...

If Exiles is typical of Christopher Paul Carey's work, then I cannot wait to devour the rest of the books by him that I picked up at Pulpfest.  He writes with a grace of style that carries the reader along as readily as the pulse-pounding adventure of the story itself does.

What jumped out at me most is the almost casual way in which he handles world-building; the world of Exiles is not the world of Hadon of Ancient Opar (though it is related), and Carey recognizes this and guides us into Lupoeth's world with a turn of phrase here, a descriptor there; we're not clubbed over the head with travelogue writing, which is something many writers cannot pull off; I know in my own writing, especially when I'm running a D&D game, I'm prone to exposition-dump to introduce the world to the players, and it's a bad habit I want to try and get away from.  Here, Carey makes it look easy.

Exiles of Kho not only ties into Farmer's Ancient Opar series, but also the French novel Ironcastle, written by J.H. Rosny, which Farmer translated into English.  The references to Ironcastle in Exiles intrigued me enough that I ordered a used copy on Amazon yesterday, and it should be arriving by the end of this week upcoming.  When I'll get a chance to read it -- I can't say.  But it'll be on my shelf ready for me when the day arrives.

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