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.
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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Brysta of the Dawn”
Wow! That was such a thrill to be scrolling by on FB and seeing that cover when I hadn’t been the one who posted it. Thanks for the kind words.
One thing I would correct: it’s a sequel (sorta) to “Xuthal of the Dusk” (The Slithering Shadow) as I’m sure you know.
And if you can, posting that review on Amazon would help me. They place a great deal on reviews there.
More proof I’ve gone too long since reading the original Robert E. Howard stories. I’m gonna have to make a point of doing so in the new year.
Sadly, Amazon keeps giving me the run-around. They tell me I don’t qualify to write reviews for them…yet, I fulfill all of their criteria. I did pop a review up on GoodReads. Hopefully, that helps. I know how much reviews can make a difference.
Thanks so much, Matthew! I really appreciate all you’ve done.
PS: I had no idea some people considered First Person the devil when I wrote that. That’s just what seemed to come out so I didn’t worry about it. I wouldn’t change it anyway but since then I’ve seen a LOT of anti-FP and not just about S&S but about Fantasy and ANY genre in general. Two of my favorites in S&S are in FP, “Kavin’s World” and Moorcock’s “Eternal Champion”.
PSS: I actually THOUGHT about setting it in Xuchotl but decided we knew more about Xuthal for my purposes and to have a motivation besides weapons or sorcery for Brysta to want to raid the place. And “Red Nails” is everybody’s favorite so I thought the lesser “Xuthal” would be safer for me to muck about in. But the two cities are so near each other and similar in architecture and weird science that they MUST be related.
I think the first person hate is because so many do it, and so few do it well. Also, for me, the rise of first person/present tense that dominates young adult fiction and has spread to genre.