Saturday, August 29, 2015
Hadon of Ancient Opar (Philip Jose Farmer, 1974)
We are introduced to the titular Hadon as he embarks on a journey to the heart of the Khokarsan Empire to compete in the Great Games; the man who wins his way through the grueling trials ranging from the hundred meter dash to a swordfight to the death, is allowed to marry the ruling High Priestess of Kho, and thus become King of Khokarsa. The Empire is jointly ruled by the high priestess of Kho and the king, who's responsible for little other than the command of Khokarsa's army and navy.
Unfortunately for Hadon, after succeeding in the Great Games, he finds his hopes of marrying the lovely high priestess Awineth imperiled by her father, the current king. King Minruth, called "the Mad" behind his back, has no intention of leaving the throne, and finds a handy means of disposing of Hadon and some other political undesirables when a scribe staggers in from the Wild Lands, bearing a story of encountering the god Sahhindar. The grey-eyed archer god was accompanied by a "white witch," Lalila, and a dwarf, Paga (aka, Laleela and Pag, from H. Rider Haggard's Allan and the Ice Gods), whom he tasked the scribe's expedition with escorting to Khokarsa. An attack by savages overturned their canoes, most of the expedition was killed, and Lalila and Paga disappeared.
And so Minruth sends Hadon out as the head of a second expedition into the Wild Lands, to find
I would like to point out one thing to begin with here: this book is flawlessly edited and proofread. I've read a lot of books over the years that have been just riddled with scriveners' errors, ranging from simple missed punctuation marks to whole sentences transposed. I won't point out books that have these errors, because I want to keep things positive around here (which is also why I haven't been remarking too much on the stories in the Pulp Fiction Megapack - I've hit a major vein of dull tales in that collection, and I'm not going to waste my time writing about bad stories), but I wanted to point out and praise the proofreaders of this volume, because there is not so much as a comma out of place.
Hadon ends on a cliffhanger, which I'm guessing leads us directly into the sequel Flight to Opar; but it also feels like there's a story missing before the beginning of Hadon; it felt like the reader was dropped into this novel expected to already know the characters to an extent, especially once Hadon's cousin Kwasin makes an appearance; so many of his past exploits are referenced by characters in ways that suggest the audience should already be familiar with the big, lumbering goon. I'm guessing I'll get a better feel for Kwasin once the sequel to Flight to Opar, The Song of Kwasin, is republished by Meteor House.
Because I don't want to get too far ahead of what's available for Ancient Opar (I'm waiting with bated breath for The Song of Kwasin), I'm taking a break from Ancient Opar after this book; I'm actually reading faster than I'm blogging, and hopefully tonight I'll have some time to write up the next book I read.