The Hyborian Age was the playground of author Robert E. Howard, who birthed Conan 86 years ago. It is a world of decadent civilization, dark magic, and strange mysteries. Rick Hannah has created a new character, Duke Rodero of Zingara, very different from the famous Cimmerian. Rodero is a privileged member of the very civilization Conan fought against. He’s also a character with secrets and hidden nature.
Hannah’s writing, and I mean this in a good way, feels like something from another time. Not Howard’s 1930s, but more Karl Edward Wagner’s 1970s. And Rodero himself is not at all a Howard hero, but he fits right in to the Hyborian age. He has wealth and power and people at his command. When he goes on an adventure, he brings some pretty hefty back-up. The titular, novel-length, story features a large cast of characters, all wrapped up in multiple layers of conflict. It also helps that it’s a follow-up to ‘The Slithering Shadow’ (aka Xuthal of the Dusk). The other two tales take place at different times in Rodero’s life, giving you some sense of the general direction his story takes.
The stories are told in first person, which I found a bit odd at first. Something about the Hyborian Age and first person narrative didn’t sit well with me, but I got used to it. Hannah handles things well and doesn’t fall into the traps some folks do when writing in the first person.
For any fan of Sword & Sorcery generally, or of Howard’s Hyborian Age specifically, should give this one a read. I get the feeling Rick Hannah has more stories about Duke Rodero to tell, and I want to read them.