Throne Of The Bastards by Brian Keene and Stephen L. Shrewsbury (book review).

‘Throne Of The Bastards’ follows on from ‘King Of The Bastards’ with no break in Rogan’s trail of mayhem. If you didn’t read ‘King Of The Bastards,’ then I should mention that this is a sword and sorcery tale by Brian Keene and Stephen L. Shrewsbury with the emphasis on the sword bit as its Rogan’s favourite weapon and he’s the main character. Mind you, he’s quite adapt at using whatever happens to be at hand to dispatch whoever is in front of him.

Throne of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Stephen L. Shrewsbury (book review).

This second outing for Rogan follows the same format as the previous book. There is a ‘What has gone before’ section which is before the Prologue. This is titled as an excerpt from the Book of the Yidde-oni. There’s a short passage titled Fragment XXVI of the Forth Yee-Wa before we have the Prologue starting on page 12. This is similar to the Prologue in the first book where a father gathers his children together to tell them the story of Rogan. The main difference here is that the man and his children must fight off a sea monster before settling down for the story. We still don’t know the man’s name at this stage.

The main story starts in Chapter 1 with Rogan aboard a ship battling to land a monster from the sea who’s climbed on board hich is rather similar to Chapter 1 in the first book. Anyway, Rogan must be at least 60 years old and, although he abdicated from the rule of Albion, he must return. He gave his crown to his son, Rohain, but has seen visions that all is not well in the old realm. It seems that one of Rogan’s illegitimate children has arrived and set about taking over while slaughtering as many as possible as he goes. In his youth, Rogan was quite good at sowing his seed so there’s quite a few illegitimate children out there.

Rogan accompanied by his trusty nephew, Javan, are blown off course but make landfall in the land of the Pryten’s. This is a land bordering Albion but there is an ingrained hatred for these people. Things get complicated when the Pryten queen claims to be yet another of Rogan’s illegitimate children. I said there were a lot of them about. Despite the longstanding loathing of the Prytens, Rogan agrees to their offer of assistance to help him reclaim Albion.

While they now have the beginnings of an army, Rogan and Javan go ahead to see if they can sneak into the capital and kill the usurper. This would certainly save everyone a lot of effort but there is the added complication of the new kings rather powerful sorcerers. What should have been a simple assassination mission goes pear-shape and Rogan has to resort to the old hack and slash technique.

Having read the first book, I feel that I have some of the backstory but there is still a feeling that I don’t have the complete picture. There’s no more information on the thirteen mentioned in the first story and these new sorcerers worship a different god. They do have some quite nasty demonic children though.

‘Throne Of The Bastards’ is quite a short novel at 184 pages (172 pages if you discount the stuff before Chapter 1) but there’s still ample space for Rogan to attend to the usual business of killing his foes. The thing with Rogan is that he’s either brooding or he’s fighting. There’s nothing in between so there’s no real character depth. I don’t expect any deep stuff from Ronan who’s a barbarian that’s quick to solve any problem with a sword. Javid, on the other hand, seems to be a complex person but just tags along.

Before writing this review, I reread my review of ‘King Of The Bastards’ and there’s a lot in the last paragraph of that review that still holds true. We have another ending which seems to fizzles out leaving you with no compelling reason to investigate if there’s another instalment. I’m still of the opinion that there wasn’t enough in ‘Throne Of The Bastards’ to distinguish it from other heroic barbarian stories.

Andy Whitaker

February 2018

(pub: Apex Publications, 2017. 184 page ebook. Price: £ 5.37 (UK). ISBN: 979-1-937009-60-1)

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