Gods Of Opar: Tales Of Lost Khokarsa by Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey (book review).

‘Gods Of Opar: Tales Of Lost Khokarsa’ by Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey collects, for the first time, all three novels of Farmer’s epic ‘Khokarsa Cycle’, including the hitherto unpublished concluding volume based on an outline by PJF and finished by Carey.


Khokarsa, a great empire that encompasses a good portion of ancient Africa circa 10,000BC, is the background for the adventures of two heroes. ‘Hadon Of Ancient Opar’ and ‘Flight To Opar’, both written by Farmer, relate the story of Hadon. He sets out for Khokarsa and takes part in the Great Games to win the hand of Queen Awineth and become the next King of Khokarsa. After his victory, he soon realises that the gods and goddesses have other plans for him. King Minruth, Awineth’s father, declares that Hadon has to go on an expedition to find the companions of the living god Sahhindar and escort them safely to Khokarsa before he will become the next king.

He is accompanied on his quest by some soldiers and the lone survivor of an earlier expedition into the Wild Lands and soon after, by his cousin Kwasin, exiled for defiling a priestess. After losing a lot of his men, Hadon hurries back to Khokarsa, only to discover that Minruth has used his absence to usurp the throne from his daughter and declare the goddess Kho no longer chief among the gods. Hadon, Kwasin and their entourage are thrown into jail. In the end of the first novel, Hadon escapes prison, together with other opponents of King Minruth, including rightful Queen Awineth. While fleeing, Kwasin gets separated from the rest of the escapees.

‘Flight To Opar’ narrates the adventures of Hadon, Lalila, Paga, Awineth and all the others on their way to Opar, whereas ‘The Song Of Kwasin’ relates the further rather epic adventures of Kwasin, following the separation from his cousin. A short epilogue concludes the third novel which tells us a little bit about events after its cataclysmic end and how the Africa of 10,000BC changed over the next millennia to become the Africa we know today.

Three maps showing Africa with the big inland sea, the island of Khokarsa and a more detailed map of Khokarsa form the lead-in to the three novels. The epilogue of the third novel is followed by a description of the maps and a chronology of Khokarsa from 12,000BC to the start of the first novel. The limited edition of the omnibus provides additional background to Khokarsa.

‘Gods Of Opar: Tales Of Lost Khokarsa’ is pulp fantasy in the best sense of the words. A fast-paced entertaining adventure literature in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Henry Rider Haggard. Christopher Paul Carey was obviously the right choice for finishing Farmer’s outline and writing the third novel, at least I wouldn’t have noticed the change in authors. The cycles’ African setting distinguishes it from its more traditional northern European brethren. This exotic ambience combined with vivid descriptions of the localities, people and beasts make the novels interesting and fun to read. Despite two of the books being written over thirty years ago, they actually show no sign of their age. A must read for every fan of pulp literature and for all readers interested in fantasy with a slight twist.

Sven Scheurer

January 2014

(pub: Subterranean Press. 575 page deluxe hardback. Price: $ 45.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-471-3)

check out website: www.subterraneanpress.com

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