Review: Hadon of Ancient Opar / Author: Philip José Farmer / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: January 25th
Hadon of Ancient Opar is an interesting riff on the sword and sorcery epic, taking place as it does within the distant land of Khokarsa (both spatially and temporally, as Opar and Khokarsa are fictional lands that were in the centre of Africa more than 12,000 years ago). The title refers to a 19 year-old man named Hadon, who goes through the Great Games Of Klakor in an attempt to ascend to the throne of Khokarsa. Unfortunately, he gets royally shafted for his efforts, as, rather than being granted the position that is rightfully is, he’s sent on a rescue mission by a petty princess and power-mad monarch. Cue what seems like your traditional epic quest: save the girl and meet all manner of beasties and savages upon the way before returning home victorious. Suffice to say all does not go to plan.
This is the latest in Titan's series of Philip José Farmer reprints, and they’ve outdone themselves in providing a ton of information relating to the backstory and the characters. The book also comes with an introduction and afterword by Christopher Paul Carey, the guy who co-wrote the last book in the Khokarsa trilogy (sadly, we suspect Titan won’t be including it in their line-up as it was written from Farmer’s notes after he died).
Fans of Farmer will know that he tends to get a bee in his bonnet about various topics such as organized religion. True to form, there’s quite a bit of that in here as he uses this book to showcase such subjects as the primitive superstitions of the Khokarsans, the blood-and-guts fun of the Great Games Of Klakor and the larger-than-life character Kwasin (ravisher of priestesses).
Although not quite as good as some of his previous work (Time’s Last Gift remains a favourite of this reviewer and set the standard so high that it’s very difficult to beat), this novel is hugely enjoyable and remains an excellent example of the fantasy genre. We await Titan’s reprint of the next and technically last title in the series, Flight to Opar, with great anticipation.