Saturday, February 20, 2010

IMARO - The Trail of Bohu

(The Trail of Bohu)
By Charles R. Saunders
Sword & Soul Media
212 pages

This is one of those remarkable books that completely justify the recent popularity of the print-on-demand phenomena of self-publishing. For without that avenue, it is doubtful we would be enjoying the continuation of this ground-breaking fantasy saga. Saunders created Imaro and the mythological Africa in which his story is told back in the 1970s after the paperback revival of the later Robert E.Howard’s Conan stories. These tales had first been published in the 1930s. Howard’s bulldog style of action writing combined with painter Frank Frazetta’s garishly envisioned cover masterpieces helped create a new interest in this fantasy subgenre known as sword and sorcery. A young writer coming into his own at the time, Saunders, himself an African-American, recognized a glaring short coming in these gritty tales that reflected much of Western societies mores and historical leanings; the blatant omission of black heroes.

It was bad enough that people of color had been cruelly robbed of their place in our history as a nation, but to see this same injustice arising out of the literary field was inexcusable. Especially when locked within the history of the Africa was a veritable treasure of exotic myths and legends that had never been fully mined. Saunders set about creating a mystical Africa of the past called Nyumbani. It is filled with all manner of peoples, nations and empires as rich and intricate as anything conceived by Western imaginations. Against this vibrant tapestry he began to saga of Imaro, a mighty and noble warrior cursed to wander the land in constant battle with both human and magical foes. Early in the series, we discover Imaro possesses unusual strength capable of defeating the Mashataan, demon gods from another dimension who plot the domination of our world via their human wizard servants, the Erriten.

The Trail of Bohu picks up Imaro’s life several years after the events related in Vol. Two, The Quest For Cush. Living comfortably in the civilized Kingdom of Cush, he’s married and has a son; at the same time learning the skills of a blacksmith. Still, the warrior blood that runs through his veins remains unsettled, out of place in a routine that verges on boring. Unbeknown to him, the Erriten are about to launch their greatest assault of conquest. To insure Imaro will not pose a threat to their machinations, they send an assassin named Bohu to murder his family and frame him for the crimes. Incensed with anger, overcome by a blind lust for vengeance, Imaro departs Cush to find this merciless killer. But he does not travel alone, as the Queen of Cush, a powerful mage named Kandisa, sends along his pygmy friend, Pomphis and the rugged sea captain, Rabir to accompany him.

It is a journey into darkness, as the trio soon realizes they are mere pawns in a grander game being played by the forces of good and evil. At the center of this contest, Imaro, who while seeking retribution, unwittingly unlocks the mysteries of his own unique and turbulent past. The revelations he uncovers set the stage for the future of his amazing destiny. IMARO – The Trail of Bohu is a grand, original adventure filled with action and adventure, exotic locales and memorable figures that will soon have you cheering. It ends all too quickly, leaving us anxious for the next chapter in this fantastic series by a truly gifted storyteller.


Josh Reynolds said...

Man, I love Saunders' stuff. Some of the best modern sword & sorcery going. Great review!

Ron Fortier said...

Imaro is one of my favorite S&S series of all time, Josh.