- RAIN 012 -

First published back in November of 2006, ‘Weird Worlds: Issue One’ was chapbook number 12 from Rainfall Books.  The chapbook was limited to just 100 unnumbered copies, all of which were signed by creator, cover artist and Rainfall publisher Steve Lines.

The chapbook formed the first instalment in the ‘Weird Worlds’ series, which was devoted to swordplay and sorcery fiction.

The Cursed Kingdom – Randall D. Larson – 29 Pages
Discovering the cooling corpse of Parth’s childhood friend, Hroth, sent Parth into a raging desire to avenge his fallen friend.  They’d been on a journey together across the jagged mountains known as The Scythe, to seek new adventures beyond the walled-in town of Sharamir.  Dreams of a new future, beyond the barbarian lands cradled in the Scythian valley, with hopes of riches and fruitful squander.  That had all been brought to an abrupt end by the blade of an unknown assassin.

Parth now had one thing on his mind – revenge.  He’d ventured back into Sharamir seeking information on his friend’s demise.  At a tavern he was told about a man who’d come to Sharamir from the west via the Mountains of Zhah.  The stranger called himself Grulka.

Parth knew the mountains to be forbidden and treacherous.  No one ever went there or even wanted to.  But Hroth, a curious farmer by nature, had journeyed there and back only a few days ago.  Now a stranger had come from those barren mountains to kill Hroth.

Parth wanted answers.  Justice through the blade sheathed at his side.  It was time for Parth to venture into the ungodly regions of the Mountains of Zhah, and reap vengeance for the life that had been taken…

Oh my, this one’s a lot of fun.  Think ‘Conan The Barbarian’ meets H.P. Lovecraft with a hint of J.R. Tolkein thrown in for good measure.  The premise is a typical tale of seeking vengeance on the murder of a beloved friend.  Our protagonist, Parth, isn’t as much a ‘classic hero’ figure as he is a man purely driven by a desire for revenge.

Once Parth’s task gets underway, the bodycount soon starts stacking up, with guards and mercenaries dropping like flies under the unfailing blade of our bloodthirsty hero.  However, it’s when Parth enters the cursed kingdom of Mirador, that the real thrills of the tale get going.

Here we see Parth fighting the minions of Zulach, the spider-god.  These Zulachanei are also spider-like creatures, as big as hogs, which crawl out from the boiling pool of molten lava at the base of the stone-carved palace.  The resulting fight sequences are full of lethal swordplay and desperate combat, told with an urgency that wraps you up in the tense action which seems to escalate at the turn of each page.

There’s a great deal of Lovecraftian references crammed in, harking of course, back to the Great Old Ones.  The spider-god, Zulach, is akin to Lovecraft-inspired Atlach-Nacha, with the backstory of the cursed kingdom and its fate spelled out in the penultimate pages.

It’s a cracking story, with plenty of action-packed barbarian violence to keep the pace racing along.  This really is one to simply sit back and enjoy and bask in the bloodsplatter that bursts out from every step of our hero’s danger-fraught journey.

Alaric Comes Home – Brian Leno – 5 Pages
Alaric knew a blizzard in the Northern Lands was a very deadly occurrence.  Travelling along the snow-covered pathway on his way to his home village, Alaric could now feel the chill deep in his bones.  His body had once been that of a warrior, easily able to withstand mother nature’s wrath.  Those days were past him now.  Since then, uncounted years had taken their toll on his tired frame.  Which was why he was only now returning to the village he’d left, back when he was just seventeen winters old.  Since leaving he’d become a highly revered warrior.  However, time had taken its toll.  Alaric realises that now more than ever.  In this blood-freezing blizzard, he’s beginning to realise he is no longer the warrior he once was…

One thing author Brian Leno has managed to absolutely nail with his barbarian-set story is the icy atmosphere that creates the formidable backdrop for this once great warrior’s trek.  The toll of the blizzard upon this aging warrior’s body feels agonising.  But it’s the bitter realisation and eventual acceptance that he’s no longer the great warrior he once was, something which is made apparent in the few short pages of the tale, that really hits home.  Age is something that invariably comes to us all.  And the consequences of this are the driving factor behind Leno’s story.  It’s a sad and sombre one.  It also ends on a strangely melancholy note.  Sort of peters out, in an accepting way.  Which leaves you feeling a bit numb.  Yeah, it’s a pretty darn gloomy story to be honest.  But a good ‘un.

The Fate Of Zathla – Lucy Francis – 3 Pages
The great sorcerer Yuth’oom was as powerful as he was wealthy.  Over the years Yuth’oom had amassed a mighty hoard of jewels and gemstones.  These treasures he kept hidden away in the basements of his tower, upon the craggy Mountains of Voor.  A vast collection of cherished stones, he protected with spells and evil Jinn.  Although for a trusted friend, a mage of high regard, Yuth’oom would allow a brief viewing of his treasured collection.  For if you can’t trust a man of magick, who can you trust?...

Author Lucy Francis’ offering is a short, fable-esque tale, written with a leaning towards Olde English in its prose and delivery.  Despite all the “thy’s” and “thou’s” and all those bygone words and phrases that sometimes make things more of a chore to read, this short tale is thankfully incredibly easy to digest, with the prose simply complimenting the feel and fable-like style of the tale.  Although it’s only very short, Francis manages to squeeze in a delightful twist that maintains the right tone for the story.  Altogether a thoroughly enjoyable read.

A Tower Of Cunning Work Was Wrought – Phillip A. Ellis – 1 Page
Where once an apocalyptic fight was fought, a necromancer built a tower of cunning work…

Ok, how the fuck do you do a synopsis for an eight-line poem, of which the same line is repeated three smeging times?  Damn the DLS ethos to review every contribution to a collection.  So yeah, that one sentence above kind of sums up the quick-fire poem.  Is the poem any good?  I haven’t the foggiest.  As anyone who’s followed DLS Reviews for a while will know, I feel utterly out of my depth with poetry.  I haven’t got a Scooby on the rules, what makes them good, what makes ‘em bad.  If they have a clever rhythm to them, then I usually think “nice one”.  This one has that.  So yeah, nice one!  That’s pretty much all I can say about it.  Sorry.  If you’re after knowledgeable dissections on poetry, then you really have come to the wrong website.

The chapbook runs for a total of 38 pages.

© DLS Reviews





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