Tales of Alhazred by Donald Tyson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Tales of Alhazred is a collection of short stories about Abdul Alhazred, necromancer and author of the Necronomicon.
Ghoul Bane: Something is feeding on the local ghouls and it's up to the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, to find the culprit.
The first of the tales is a fine introduction to Alhazred, the author of the Necronomicon and one of the early figures in the Cthulhu mythos. The tale itself is pretty straightforward but eases the reader into the collection.
Mountain of Shadows: Alhazred and his two companions climb a mountain in search of a talisman to ward off Nyarlathotep. Will they find it at a strange Christian monastery full of levitating monks?
Now this was more like it, a perfect blend of Cthulhu mythos and sword and sorcery.
Brazen Vessel: A djinn snatches Alhazred from his bed and transports him across the desert. His task: free the seventy-two djinn imprisoned by Solomon inside a brass vessel.
Alhazred continues his growth as a sorcerer, this time contending with a menace straight out of the old testament.
Isle of the Dead: What's worse than an island full of undead? The creatures animating them!
This one was pretty revolting at times. Alhazred and gang sure go through hell on a fairly regular basis.
Dance of Durga: Altrus kills a man for cheating at dice and agrees to take up the sins of the town. However, that's not all he's volunteered for...
Religious fanaticism at its best! And, with huge vermin, at that.
The Caliph's Necromancer: Someone is trying to kill the Caliph using necromancy and Alhazred and company are on the case! Will they find the culprit before the Caliph is murdered?
Not a bad tale by any means but my least favorite so far. It still had some great character moments, however.
Revenge of the Djinn: The son of a djinn kidnaps Martala, forcing Alhazred into a duel. Alhazred's weapon of choice: dice?
Alhazred out-thinks his adversary in this outing. Good stuff!
Hand of Nilus: Alhazred, Altrus, and Martala arrive at a monastery to learn of a bounty placed on a missing relic, the mummified hand of St. Nilus.
Great stuff. Necromancy, a powerful artifact, and the gang pissing off another Christian monastery. I haven't mentioned it before, but the stories frequently have a touch of humor.
Red Claws: A monstrous leopard has stalked and killed all but one member of a caravan. Alhazred and company take in the woman and death follows in their wake...
This one was bloody and while I thought one of the twists was telegraphed, the other hit me like a telegraph pole.
Ancient Evil: The necromancers of Damascus are facing a shortage of essential salts from Egypt and look to Alhazred to find the culprit.
An ancient evil is raised and runs roughshod over the necromancers until Alhazred pieces together what is going on. Not my favorite story but it felt like a good one to end on.
Conclusion: I loved this book. The stories were a fun mix of Lovecraft and sword and sorcery. The tales were a diverse mix and left enough unanswered questions for me to want another volume. If you like old school pulp fantasy and the Cthulhu mythos, this is a must-buy.
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