[CONAN] Red Sonja: She-Devil With A Sword

So, I decided to start reading Dynamite's second Red Sonja Omnibus...but...I flipped through the first Omnibus again to refresh myself with the story...and I just couldn't flip. I've got to re-read the entire thing.

I am freakin' crazy about that first Omnibus. WHAT A FREAKIN' STORY!! I can't believe that there's not more support for this work. I think it's brilliant. Overall, it's one of the best Hyboran Age stories I've read. In my head, it plays out like a series of major motion pictures, extremely high budget--the Hyborian Age answer to the Lord of the Rings films.

It's just freakin' good stuff.

...Except for the story The Hand of Fate. I can't figure why that story is in the Omnibus. The story has nothing to do with the rest of the mega-arc, and it takes place on the opposite side of the Known World, on the Western coast (where as the rest of the Omnibus is all set in Hyrkania). Maybe the publishers were just trying to be complete in throwing in a one-off.

I can't say enough how much I like this book.


What do I like so much about this book?

Take the very first frames....

You fade in on familiar narration, but with a twist, "Know also, O Prince, that in the selfsame days that the Cimmerian did stalk the Hyborian Kingdoms, one of the few swords worthy to cross swords with his was that of a warrior-woman out of majestic Hyrkania. She, the mother of vengeance, hunter of evil. The Red Sonja."

An owl flies into view. We don't know it yet, but this is symbolism. The owl is the symbol of Red Sonja's goddess.

Clutched in the claws of this owl is a field mouse.

An arrow comes out of nowhere to pierce the owl. Starting to see the symbolism now? Brilliant.

The mouse falls.

Both hit the ground at the feet of two feminine soft leather boots. The mouse bounces then scurries off...free.

More symbolism.

Then, we see that it is the Red Sonja who pierced the owl, and her dialogue (that she speaks over a camp fire to her horse, Thorne) is about the circle of life. She says, speaking of the owl, "Wel, he gave me life. All I can give him is remembrance. A one-sided bargain."

The horse snorts.

And, we see that The Red Sonja is on some sort of mission, trying to locate a city.

A close up of another owl, sitting on a branch while the Sonja rides under. More symbolisim? The goddess looking over Sonja? Many times in the book, we go back to a close up of an owl. The wise, all-knowing, owl. Usually, as in this first case, when the action is about to begin.

And, begin, it does. Night time. A rain storm. A dark, tangled, thick forest. Savages attack a messenger on a horse. Lightning crackles. Throne's hoves kick up dirt. Sonja rises on the back of the horse, using her legs to guide Thorne, Hyrkanian style, while both of her hands draw TWO arrows. She's knocked. She's got aim. Thorne beats the ground below her, racing to the scene in front of them. The arrows fly.

Two separate savages fall to the ground.

Gods, what a book!

I love this thing! Highly recommended.

The multiple-story arcs, that seem separate for a time, all converge into one mega-story. The writing is brilliant.

The theme we saw in the first frames: The Cycle of Life. Death and Rebirth. We see it with Sonja. And, we see it in the Mega-Arc (I don't want to blow the story for you).

To me, this is excellent story telling.
I just finished my second reading to myself. I really do love that first omnibus. It's a fantastic collection of stories--a saga. A real epic.

I started Omni 2, and it hasn't grabbed me like the first. But, we'll see. I'm only a chapter into it. It's a real right turn from the first book.
Just read a Red Sonja one shot called One More Day. It is collected in Red Sonja Travels.

Fantastic, I tell you! Fantastic!

The art. The story. The grit. All very "Hyborian Age" with that mystical "Red Sonja" tint.

Good stuff.

PS, I can do without the chainmail bikini. I wish they'd give the chick some clothes. But, I've somewhat bought into the reasoning--only because I have little choice if I'm going to read the otherwise excellent stories I'm reading in these Red Sonja tales.