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Conan And The Death Lord Of Thanza


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#1 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 02 January 2005 - 04:01 AM

Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza
By Roland Green
Tor 1996


Plot Capsule

Conan flees Ophir, and in the Aquilonian city of Shamar he joins the Thanza Rangers, a group raised to attack raiders in the Thanza region of the Border Range. Up in the mountains, bandit chieftain Lysinka joins her band of men to those of Baron Grolin, the self-titled ?Lord of Thanza,? so they can seek for a chest that flew off when Lynsinka tried to steal it from a caravan. According to Grolin, it contains the Soul of Thanza, which grants lordship over death. Unknown to the others, a mysterious semi-invisible wizard helps guide Grolin to the Soul of Thanza. The ragtag Thanza Rangers, nominally lead by boyish Captain Klarnides but actually headed by master-at-arms Tharmis Rog and Conan, move into the mountains to attacks the raiders. After Grolin abandons Lysinka during a fight with the Rangers, Lysinka surrenders to Conan and agrees to help apprehend Grolin. Together, they and the Rangers set out to find the Soul of Thanza before Grolin can use it to turn himself into the indestructible Death Lord. Conan find unexpected help from an army of the dead, and he will need all the aid he can against the horrors of the Mountain of the Skull and the awesome might of the Death Lord.

Review

Roland Green?the notorious whipping boy of pastiche writers. However, a long time has passed since I read one of Mr. Green?s Conan novels, and I wondered if I had given him a fair chance. I could hardly get through Conan and the Mists of Doom, but perhaps I had caught him on one of his off-novels. I would hate to judge John Maddox Roberts based on Conan and the Amazon and Robert Jordan on Conan the Victorious, respectively poor works from otherwise skilled pastiche writers. So I decided to give Mr. Green another try.

I am glad to report that Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza is superior to Conan and the Mists of Doom. Unfortunately, that still ranks it as the second worst Conan novel I?ve read.

This book just goes to prove that all the clever monsters, sword fights, sorceries, and interesting plot ideas cannot overcome slipshod writing and lack of passion for the material. Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza feels like exactly what it is: a writer-for-hire pounding out pages in a short space of time. I can?t imagine Mr. Green had much fun writing this book, and consequently I had very little fun reading it. It turned into a chore getting through it, even as my mind thought, ?Hey, that?s a nice horror device there,? or ?What a large and unusual finale!? None of that matters if the writing is either dull or draws attention to itself with its ridiculousness.

The prose starts adequately, as if Mr. Green had his energy level up when he started typing, but the longer the story goes, the clumsier the writing gets. Sometimes Green?s descriptions sound just dumb-founding: ?And, in as much time as it took to eat a venison pasty?? (Sorry, but I have no idea how long it takes to eat a venison pasty, and should references to Cornish food take place in the middle of a battle scene in the Hyborian age?) There?s an unintentionally hilarious description of a wizard with a leaf sticking out of his nostril in one chapter. Green also over-relies on particular words, such as ?witling.? No kidding, it appears three times on one page.

I find it amazing that a writer can pack a novel full of action and still make it boring. Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza brims with action; too much, in fact. Most of it has nothing to do with the plot and exists only for its own sake, such as an early sequence where a tavern owner sends ?thief-takers? (another overused word) after Conan. A struggle with a water dragon works better than most other action scenes, and the skeleton army could have worked if handled with more imagination. Good ideas pop up everywhere, but Green wastes most of them. I prefer Conan stories that have a ?dark fantasy? slant that emphasizes hideous magic and demonic creatures mixed in with the swordplay, and Green?s story offers a lot of that. But he handles these moments in such dull, uninteresting ways. The skeleton army is a prime example; you quickly forget that they are the walking dead and start thinking of them as just another set of allies who joined up with Conan. The Death Lord is also a good concept, and Grolin?s seizure of its power makes for the most effective sequence in the whole novel. But it arrives after the book has lost most of its momentum and it doesn?t renew interest in the story. The ending might have been fantastic?flying mountains and an army of skeletons?but it rushes past quickly without buildup. A pity; a good author could have turned out a real thrill ride of a read from this material.

The characters get the same unfortunate treatement as the fantasy elements. Characters who initially appear interesting, like Tharmis Rog and the Nemedian Regius Panon, end up serving hardly any purpose. The strange sorcerer who aids Grolin never gets explained, nor does the history and purpose of the Death Lord and the skeletons receive more than a cursory nod. Lysinka, a typical warrior-woman, works better than she should. Her attraction to Conan feels realistic and believable. It?s a small touch, and one of the few successes in the novel.

Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza is Conan pastiche at its most bland. Missed opportunities and passionless writing make this a book to skip on your pastiche-reading list.

Rating: 1 (out of 5)
Ryan: The Haunter of the Ring, Reviewer at Large, The Swing Dancin? Stygian

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#2 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 02 January 2005 - 05:48 AM

dear RH, thanks for continuing your valuable series of detailed reviews.
i always enjoy reading your entertaining + informative comments.

but PLEASE add some kind of RATING score to each review ?
[ most book sites use a '1 to 5' rating system ]
-
i'm slowly working my way thru more conan books + making notes.
i hope to post more reviews / lists /ratings in future when i have more time?

i salute your efforts + fairness.
i could not write at length about r green, cos i despise him + carpenter! :angry:
i usually rate greens as 0 or 1, at most. :lol:
-
i've just read -
CONAN + THE TREASURE OF PYTHON by JM Roberts
RATING = 4.5 out of 5 !
very good epic adventure! highly recommended!
B) :)

AVATARS GALORE
HYBORIAN Limericks + Rhymes
Lots of FUN and serious new RHYMING Hyborian/Fantasy poetry.

"So I took to a life of adventure and daring
leaving most warriors drooling and staring.
After I danced with my exotic flesh baring
I would vanish into the new Sunrise glaring."

#3 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 02 January 2005 - 06:34 AM

but PLEASE add some kind of RATING score to each review ?
[ most book sites use a '1 to 5' rating system ]

Done! (See edited post above)

i've just read -
CONAN + THE TREASURE OF PYTHON by JM Roberts
RATING = 4.5 out of 5 !
very good epic adventure! highly recommended

Good to hear, since I just bought a copy of it; I really need to read some John Maddox Roberts after Roland Green!

Although, at the moment, I think I just need a month break from Conan pastiches. I think I'll read some cyberpunk instead. :)
Ryan: The Haunter of the Ring, Reviewer at Large, The Swing Dancin? Stygian

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#4 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 02 January 2005 - 07:28 AM

i really enjoyed NEURO-MANCER by w gibson years ago B)
was that the 1st cyberpunk novel?
so what recent cyberpunk books can u recommend please?
-
just 'jack in' to TREASURE OF PYTHON to restore your 'neuro-conan' levels to full pleasure power!
enjoy! :D

kisses from '7 of 9's very buxom 'borg sister' called '44-33-36' * * * ;)

#5 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 03 January 2005 - 01:57 AM

so what recent cyberpunk books can u recommend please?

I don't know about recent, but I recommend Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling. An yep, I've read Neuromancer at least twice (believe it or not, it was assigned reading for a class at college). It's considered the first cyberpunk novel of the "official" movement of the 80s, although there were plenty of similar novels in the years before, like The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. Which kicks some serious ass!

Oh, by the way?Conan.

(I just wrote that to avoid sounding too off-topic.)

#6 Strom

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Posted 04 January 2005 - 12:13 AM

Conan and the Death Lord of Thanza
By Roland Green
Tor 1996

Too bad it stinks - I like the title!!! Better than the generic adjective filled titles that numerous pastiche stories suffer from! Not everyday you met a Death Lord!

P.S. I liked "Snow Crash". B)

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#7 Buxom Sorceress

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Posted 04 January 2005 - 05:11 AM

. . I recommend Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling. . .

r green IS the 'dearth lord' of all pastiches ! :lol:
--
thanks for the book info.
been reading the reviews on amazon, + added em to my very long list 'to read'.

just ordered SHADOWS OF YOG SOTHOTH [new extended version rpg] -
so my hidden tentacles are shuddering with insane anticipation of twisted forbidden pleasures - - ;)

- - even conan would be shocked !?
:o

#8 Ring-Haunter

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Posted 04 January 2005 - 08:41 AM

I like the title!!! Better than the generic adjective filled titles that numerous pastiche stories suffer from! Not everyday you met a Death Lord

It is a good title, and it would be even better if "Conan" wasn't required in the title. The whole "Conan the Adjective" and "Conan the Occupational Noun" made for a pretty boring series of titles, most of which don't really describe the novel at all. The series should have had Conan's name on the top of the novel, and then the title beneath it, sort of like the way they do the James Bond novels:

I'd imagine it like this:

Robert E. Howard's Legendary Fantasy Creation
CONAN
in
The Death Lord of Thanza
by Roland Green

People would still know it was Conan (and who created him!), but the title would get to be separate and more creative.
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#9 VincentDarlage

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 07:27 PM

Green also over-relies on particular words, such as ?witling.? No kidding, it appears three times on one page.

Green's overreliance on words with 'wit' in them is why I stopped reading his novels. One of them had a variant of that word over three hundred times in a novel with less than three hundred pages (the book was so boring, I counted the occurances to make the reading more fun). Wit, Witling, Witless, Nitwit... Open a Roland Green novel to a random page and such a word is going to be on that page or within two pages of the random page. Someone ought to hand that guy a thesaurus.

I wonder if actually speaks that way (constantly using the word 'witling' and the others) or if it just an affectation he has while writing.

#10 Speelie

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 07:00 AM

I never bothered with this one, after being put off by Green's earlier works. But I do wonder, and perhaps you reading this do too, how any magazine ever managed to print a review with the comments, "High quality, Green provides a colorful adventure" that Tor ran on some of his covers. Perhaps the full quote was, "Ken Kelly gives us another cover of high quality, Green provides a colorful adventure which is boring to read but gives Mr. Kelly good tools for creating a painting..." :lol:

#11 budgie

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Posted 20 February 2005 - 11:23 AM

On the whole I didnt think this was too bad a book until near the end..

The story builds nicely from the start interweaving Conan into a group of questionable mercenarys (Thanza Rangers) and thier tracking down of the Bandits prowling the local mountains.

Some of the characters prove interesting in thier development, The Thanza Ranger captain, Klarnides for instance

I wont spoil it for everyone but I question Conans ease with which he ally's himself to his new "friends" from the cave and the power of the Death Lord over the mountain seems a little silly.

In the whole I give it 2.5/5

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