Bran Mak Morn pastiche: Legion from the Shadows

René

Mongoose
K.E. wagner wrote this book back in the 70s. Is it recommendable? It deals with the disappearence of an entire Roman legion in Caledonia - maybe it could be modified as an adventure about an entire Aquilonian legion disappearing in Cimmeria as a prelude to fall of Venarium. After having read the Kern trilogy I think of Cimmerians more and more as a kind of Hyborian Caledonians.

If someone has read the book, I'd be very glad if he could give me his opinion: is it worth purchasing (high price because out of print).
 

René

Mongoose
Come on, am I reallygoing to be the first on this forum who will have read this book?

O.K., then you will get my opinion (regarding RPG salvagebility) in a few weeks.
 

rigante

Mongoose
I read it some years ago.

Can't really remember it that well ( i guess that says something in itself). As I recall, it was a reasonable pastiche (much like his Conan pastiche). I enjoyed it more than the other Bran Mak Morn pastiche by the guys that did the Red Sonja books (can't even remember that ones title).
 

Ant

Mongoose
Read REH's Bran Mak Morn first? Of course! :D

Karl Edward Wagner's Legion From the Shadows was published in the collection Bran Mak Morn: Legion from the Shadows in 1976 (publisher?) (ISBN: 0-89-083177-7), along with REH's stories.

KEW's novel was published independently in 1988 by Baen (ISBN: 0-67-169788-9).

KEW's a strong writer: not surprising if this is a good pastiche.

KEW's Kane stories could do with republishing!

Gr.,
Ant
 

Jason Durall

Mongoose
René said:
K.E. wagner wrote this book back in the 70s. Is it recommendable? It deals with the disappearence of an entire Roman legion in Caledonia - maybe it could be modified as an adventure about an entire Aquilonian legion disappearing in Cimmeria as a prelude to fall of Venarium. After having read the Kern trilogy I think of Cimmerians more and more as a kind of Hyborian Caledonians.

If someone has read the book, I'd be very glad if he could give me his opinion: is it worth purchasing (high price because out of print).
I own it and have actually read it again in the last year.

It's worth purchasing if you're into that genre or a completist, though it is very different in tone from the REH, though it's clear that KEW meant well. I wouldn't pay more than a few dollars for it, and you can find it on abebooks.com for fairly cheap.

It is far less historical than REH's Bran Mak Morn stories, which is saying a lot. The bulk of the book is a frustratingly overlong series of chases and captures within a massive tunnel complex from some bestial denizens who've interbred with the vanished Roman legion. Bran's sister is captured early in the novel, and he spends most of the time searching for her, and dealing with an army of subhumans beneath the earth. If not for the references to Picts and Romans and the presence of a sister figure, it could easily be a Conan or Kull pastiche.
 

René

Mongoose
Jason Durall said:
Ant said:
KEW's Kane stories could do with republishing!
They have been recently republished in two nice editions, titled Gods in Darkness and Midnight Sun.

Yes, but they are - with the exception of the SciFi book club - somewhat expensive to purchase - if at all: I waited in Germany for a copy of Mindnight Sun a quarter of a year, after which I canceled my order (I did it via an university bookstore - and the guys at this store are really profis).
Finally I ordered via abebooks.com at a reasonable price (the shipping costs are nearly as high as the book costs). So I can recommend this way for non-US readers.
 

Ant

Mongoose
René said:
Jason Durall said:
Ant said:
KEW's Kane stories could do with republishing!
They have been recently republished in two nice editions, titled Gods in Darkness and Midnight Sun.

Yes, but they are - with the exception of the SciFi book club - somewhat expensive to purchase - if at all: I waited in Germany for a copy of Mindnight Sun a quarter of a year, after which I canceled my order (I did it via an university bookstore - and the guys at this store are really profis).
Finally I ordered via abebooks.com at a reasonable price (the shipping costs are nearly as high as the book costs). So I can recommend this way for non-US readers.
Yes, they're out of print and -- after only 2-3 years -- only available "second hand". The prices on abebooks for Midnight Sun are steep!

So... Night Shade should reprint them! Or publish paperback editions.

Cheers,
Ant
 

Jason Durall

Mongoose
René said:
K.E. wagner wrote this book back in the 70s. Is it recommendable? It deals with the disappearence of an entire Roman legion in Caledonia - maybe it could be modified as an adventure about an entire Aquilonian legion disappearing in Cimmeria as a prelude to fall of Venarium.
I forgot to mention how much I enjoy that this mirrors the Clades Variana, a famous ambush and massacre of three Roman legions as they marched through Germania in 9 AD.
 

René

Mongoose
Jason Durall said:
René said:
K.E. wagner wrote this book back in the 70s. Is it recommendable? It deals with the disappearence of an entire Roman legion in Caledonia - maybe it could be modified as an adventure about an entire Aquilonian legion disappearing in Cimmeria as a prelude to fall of Venarium.
I forgot to mention how much I enjoy that this mirrors the Clades Variana, a famous ambush and massacre of three Roman legions as they marched through Germania in 9 AD.

I thought along the same line, when I mentioned the idea of an Aquilonian legion disappearing in pre-Venarium Cimmeria: in the historical clades Variana the former German soldier in the Roman army Arminius went over to his former people and used the tactical knowledge he had acquired during the years of military service to exploit the weaknesses of the Roman army by denying an open field battle and decimating them by a days long guerilla battle in foggy and rainy German jungle.
I thought of a Cimmerian "noble" (son of a former chief, who was expelled after his father died and went out of Cimmeria), who served in the Aquilonian army and got more and more doubts, when the trade relations developed into colonization attempts. Then he changed sides and gained leadership in one clan, challenged his former comrades in several skirmishes and finally destroys the invading legion.
Maybe this scenario could be spiced up with a little weird magic: even if the Cimmerians are not-magic people they may have Atlantean ruins in their country which have some kind of terrible magic in them (look at the Kern trilogy and the mysterious ruins the Frost Giant tries to use before the final battle).
 

René

Mongoose
At the weekend I read this book and.. well:

good
- Wagner knows REH, he has read all relating stories and incorporates them really nicely (even Shadow Kingdom from the KULL cycle)
- He stays true to the sorcery of REH - no D&D
- Several characters from REH's Bran Mak Morn are continued (Gonar, Bran's sister, the half-serpent witch etc.)

bad
- bad writing - at least for Wagner. You'll not think he wrote the book between Bloodstone and Dark Crusade. Although compared to de Camp / Carter's pastiche jokes it's good.
- some improbabilities like Bran getting an offer for alliance with the bad guys ca. 10 times - always refusing it, but nonetheless they offer it an 11th time.

Summa summarum: for a REH / Bran Mak Morn fan interesting, but don't spend more than five bucks.
 

Thoth Aw C'mon

Mongoose
René said:
K.E. wagner wrote this book back in the 70s. Is it recommendable? It deals with the disappearence of an entire Roman legion in Caledonia - maybe it could be modified as an adventure about an entire Aquilonian legion disappearing in Cimmeria as a prelude to fall of Venarium. After having read the Kern trilogy I think of Cimmerians more and more as a kind of Hyborian Caledonians.

If someone has read the book, I'd be very glad if he could give me his opinion: is it worth purchasing (high price because out of print).

I read it years ago and enjoyed it. But I'm a huge KEW fan and so may be biased. I really love KEW, even though at the end of his career he kind of creeped out a bit. In his collection of Kane stories he even has some strange "adult" stories involving Kane in the modern era that just were kinda are creepy: one features a diabolical dildo. Whatever.

But one great feature of the Midnight Sun book is KEW's essay on writing, particularly writing in the sci-fi, sword and sorcery genre. He dwells on REH a lot and has some great things to say. He was a huge fan, and REH influenced him a lot.

KEW also talks about his early days, and the lack of respect he received from the publishers. His first book about Kane featured a black-haired Kane on the cover, which as anyone knows isnt correct- Kane has rusty red hair to go with this earie piercing blue eyes (the eyes of a murderer...) And so the publishers, rather than getting a new piece of cover art had merely re-worked his story (I think it was Death Angels Shadow- Im sure someone will provide the correction if this isnt right :) ) so that Kane has black haired in the story. He couldn't believe how little respect he was given by these jerks. Its kind of amusing and a great essay definitely worth checking out.

Some of my favorite Kane stories include The Dark Muse, Cold Light, Raven's Eyrie, Dark Crusade and others. But I dont think I ever read a bad one. I found KEW was very consistent in terms of the high quality of his Kane stories.

The funny thing about Kane stories is often you are rooting for the other guy. Dark Crusade and Undertow were two stories especially when i spent the whole time rooting for the guy fighting Kane. But thats the unique switcheroo that KEW pulls on this complex character.

The complilation also has an earlier verison of Lynotris Reprise called The Treasure of Lynortis. And its fun to read 'em both to see how the story changed from the first version to the second.

In terms of the recently compilation books out on KEW, I got 'em real cheap at http://www.alldirect.com/

I currently dont see Midngiht Sun listed there, but this is a good site to check periodically for what you're looking for. I've gotten numerous books and RPG stuff there, and even got the Conan RPG rule book there. In fact I paid less for the Conan RPG AND the KEW complilation Midnight Sun than most people were paying for just one of these. (I've probably jinxed it now by mentioning it here... :wink: ) But I find its always worth checking this site when new RPG stuff or books come out that you're interested in.

Actually I even still have my email receipt of my order:


> The details of your order are listed below:
> ===========================================================
> Conan: The Roleplaying Game ~ Tucker, Paul
> 1 Book 1904577695 | Price: $30.97 | Ext: $30.97
> -- Shipped With Order
> ===========================================================
> The Midnight Sun: The Collected Stor ~ Wagner, Karl Edward
> 1 Book 1892389517 | Price: $21.70 | Ext: $21.70
> -- Shipped With Order
> ===========================================================
> SubTotal: $52.67
> S&H: $4.30
> ======================
> Total: $56.97
>
> Thank you for visiting AllDirect.com
>
> Customer Service (help@AllDirect.com)
> AllDirect.com
> Great Selection / Even Better Prices!

But for those not familiar with KEW or with Kane, check 'em out. You have some GREAT reading ahead of you! :D
 
René said:
K.E. wagner wrote this book back in the 70s. Is it recommendable? It deals with the disappearence of an entire Roman legion in Caledonia - maybe it could be modified as an adventure about an entire Aquilonian legion disappearing in Cimmeria as a prelude to fall of Venarium. After having read the Kern trilogy I think of Cimmerians more and more as a kind of Hyborian Caledonians.

If someone has read the book, I'd be very glad if he could give me his opinion: is it worth purchasing (high price because out of print).

Actually, there is a Savage Sword of Conan story that is almost exactly what you are looking for. It describes an entire Aquilonian Legion disappearing into the Pictish Wilderness. It turns out the that Legionaires were corrupt and were chasing after the Pictish throne of gold and actually turned on their own. I am at work now, but I will get you the exact issue tonight along with more details.

HLD
 

René

Mongoose
Hey, thanks! I appreciate your help very much! Now you mention it, IIRC there is a survivor of this expedition portrayed in AtTR. I think Conan meets him a few years later.
 
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