"Part sword and sorcery, part extreme horror, King of the Bastards is wild adventure across seas, beaches, and mountains full of horrifying monstrosities, dark magic, and demonic entities.Rogan has been many things in his life as an adventurer — a barbarian, a thief, a buccaneer, a rogue, a lover, a reaver, and most recently, a king. Now, this prehistoric bane of wizards and tyrants finds himself without a kingdom, lost in a terrifying new world, and fighting for his life against pirates, zombies, and the demonic entity known as Meeble. And even if he defeats his foes, Rogan must still find a way to return home, regain his throne, save his loved ones, and remind everyone why he's the KING OF THE BASTARDS."
A lament I often hear is that there's no good sword & sorcery being published these days. Well let me tell you, with the release of KING OF THE BASTARDS by Brian Keene and Steven Shrewsbury , that's no longer the case. When I say sword and sorcery, I'm not talking about the latest Tolkien Clone of Game of Thrones Knock-off. No, I mean the good old stuff, like Robert E. Howard and Karl Edward Wagner. The stuff that's based in horror and drenched in blood.
Within the first 30 pages you know you're in good hands as King Rogan, former barbarian, thief, reaver, slayer, etc and his comrades face off against a sea monster and then a band of pirates. It's a violent, bloody beginning and the guys are just getting warmed up.
When the smoke clears, Rogan and his nephew Javan wash up on the shores of an unknown land and the adventure really gets started. Tasked by a local tribe with killing a sorcerer in his lair, the two men are soon faced with foes who use both cold hard steel and the darkest sorcery.
Reader's familiar with Brian Keene's 'Labyrinth Mythos' will find some familiar elements. In addition to earthly enemies, Rogan and Javan must deal with Meeble, one of the thirteen, an otherworldly pantheon of entities that aren't quite angels, gods, or demons. I've run into other members of The Thirteen in Keene's books about occult detective, Levi Stoltzfus. Almost all of Keene's books and stories are linked one way or the other in a sort of 'Keeneiverse', which, continuity conscious comic book fan that I am, I really enjoy.
In various essays here at Singular Points, I've discussed how I feel that the best sword and sorcery has a horror tale at its heart. Karl Edward Wagner often said that his stories about the immortal warrior KANE were really horror stories with enough action to make them heroic fantasy. Similarly, many of Robert E. Howard's Conan and Solomon Kane stories are really horror yarns. Fritz Leiber, himself a corespondent of H.P. Lovecraft, filled his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories with dark sorcery and horror. Ditto C.L. Moore, creator of Jirel of Joiry, the original red-haired she-devil.
Keene and Shrewsbury have learned their lessons well. Brian had told me before I started KING that I'd find a lot of Karl Edward Wagner influence in the book, and without giving away too many plot points, I definitely can see what he meant. This book is as much a horror novel as a sword and sorcery tale. And for me that makes it work really well.
Anyway, if you're one of those people who are always looking for a good, bloody, sword & sorcery tale, then look no farther. KING OF THE BASTARDS has what you want in spades. I was fortunate in that Apex Books offered me an advanced reading copy of the book on the same day I had placed my pre-order for it. So I got to read it early and soon I'll have a shiny new copy to put on my shelf. The book is expected to be released on July 21st, but you too can pre-order here: