I found myself agreeing with very little of his reviews of the Kern novels.
While I don't think the Kern trilogy is going to bump A Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings from the pinnacle of fantasy novel fandom, I thought they were a good read. I gave them bonus points for the simple fact that they weren't about a Conan-clone/wannabe.
Although, I wholeheartedly agree that no one can top REH, the appeal of having non-Conan stories is that it doesn't have to. Hell, how many posts on this board talked about players having issues "getting into" the setting because they felt overshadowed by Conan (as if this is even a valid comparison - weren't not talking DragonLance or Middle Earth here).
In order to agree with the reviewer, I have to set aside the fact that Howard created this immense world and fall into the mindset of "It must be Conan and it must be like Howard" (which no one can do anyway).
If nothing else, the series shows that Hyboria has thousands of stories waiting to be told and only a few of them are about Conan. And after all is said and done, isn't that the point of the Conan RPG?
I've only read the first of the Kern series, but sadly, it was enough of a slog for me that I won't revisit that trilogy.
I agree almost entirely with the review. The one novel felt tremendously padded, with inordinate detail given to mundane elements and a lack of a strong dramatic arc.
On the other hand, I'd love to see a collection of new Hyborian Age short stories... maybe they could get an all-star roster of fantasy/horror authors to write short stories set in the Hyborian Age, or even actual Conan stories? For example, having a single volume with short stories by Neil Gaiman, David Gemmell, Greg Keyes, George RR Martin, Stephen King, et al. would be a must-have, and the short story format would be less restrictive and more in the flavor of Howard. Also, an anthology would be much easier on the reader - you don't like one story? Ten pages later, there's a different one.
I didn't like the books. The review has it right, plus I hated the constant over-use of sentence fragments to tell the story, along with elements such as the author's belief that Shemites are black and his brief description of Belit as an ebony queen (in the second book, IIRC, during some comment/story about Conan).
Anok sounds a lot like Anakin - an orphan about to be Corrupted by the dark side of a religious order. (His last name, Wati, sounds like Watto, the little flying guy who owned Anakin as a slave...)
I didn't notice that, but now you have mentioned this "coincidence", I'm sure it will linger all the time in my mind when I read the books (IF I read them: the first chapter is 100% cliche).
The most annoying thing to me in the KERN trilogy is the unvincibility of the gang of Cimmerians: only one or two of them are actually warriors, but the professional raiders from Nordheim are not able to crush them or at least to kill more than one guy until the final battle - though there are ca. two dozen battles described and some more hinted at!
Sure, it is heroic fantasy, but this aspect borders silliness.
I'd have to say that the Death Dealer books were better. Yes, the DD books are a off in their pacing and can drag in spots. However, I never felt that they were padded out to up the page count.
Several times I got the feeling that Coleman would look over his manuscript and go, "Oops, need to bring this in at over 200 pages. Think I'll throw in another battle and a description of the country side."
Silke had only Frazetta's paintings to use whn he wrote his series. Because of this he had a free hand in creating the setting and characters for his books. Coleman is using an established. Authors who are going to be creating new stories using Howard's world need to take the time to do the proper research.
IMO, theis is where the new trilogy fails. Instead of creating an epic story about about Cimmerians and their struggle with enemies, Coleman gives us a D&D "young adventures" tale.