Warrior of Scorpio
I chose the Josh Kirby cover version for this review. Two reasons: Tim Kirk's is awful and Delia looks so hot on the winged steed. Despite the fact that it is way out of proportion, it does capture the essence of Kregen. Kirk still does the interior illustrations.
When last we left Dray, he was snatched from leading his rag tag phalanx to victory over the Overlords of Magdag. It was the Everoinye who did this, as Prescot suspects, but does not know, until over 30 years or so later. This is a rough combination of the time spent on Earth (Tides of Kregen), the years it took to liberate his Stromnate of Valka, and the entire Havilfar Cycle. Because of a time loop or two, this is only a guess.
Dray is transported to Pattelonia (or is it Proconia? I get the two mixed up). It is here that the oft-remembered meeting between Prescot and Seg Segutorio takes place (pages 12 & 13). The greatest archer of two worlds greets his old dom with a forkful of odiferous straw-laced manure! Now Dray knows this was an accident but still wants to vent some steam on the warrior from Erthyrdrin. I guess he was still upset about what the Star Lords had just done. But if they had in fact orchestrated Prescot's journey to Magdag (page 12), then why had they done so, if not to overthrow the evil Grodnim? I know the Savanti would welcome that, as the green utilized many races of diffs, unlike the red of the south. On page 18 Dray mentions that the Savanti have assisted and interfered with the Everoinye. Curiouser and curiouser...
What would have been an epic battle doesn't take place as Seg and Dray are interrupted by a sorzart raid (not capitalized). These are the first new race of diffs introduced since "Transit" which featured: Fristles, Rapas, Ochs, Chuliks, and Mehtzhas. The sorzarts are reptilian in nature and perhaps a natural ally of the Shanks (should they ever invade the Eye of the World). Dray still refers to such races as "beast-men" or "half-men". The term "diff" or "apim" is not in use yet. On page 26 we meet yet another race, the Relts (Caphlander), gentle cousins of the Rapas. I wonder if they came from the same planet originally, during one of Kregen's galaxy spanning journeys.
Dray and Seg do save the Lady Pulvia na Upalion and infant son (page 19). Why, I have no idea, as they (or their offspring) never enter the saga at all, later. A little humor is when Dray mentions (same page) that "no doubt in normal times she would despair over the hint of a mustache beginning to darken her upper lip".
Despite numerous readings of "Warrior" I picked up on something that I must have glossed over before: the golden fields of "bloin" that Prescot hunts the sorzarts in (chapters 1 & 2). These blossoms are mentioned so often that I almost consider these fields a microcosm, a world unto itself. But, that's just me!
Later, after making the lizard -like diffs see the wisdom in not pursuing any further, Dray meets up with Seg and the Lady Pulvia. I think Prescot should have paused at least momentarily when the bowman commanded him to. Some arrogance there, doesn't like to take orders I guess. But he redeems himself with getting on a first name basis with Seg (pages 25 & 26): "safe Dray"? "Safe Seg". "We had fallen into names thus easily, then". Of course Seg is the warrior meant in the title and Seg even tells Dray that he will teach him to respect a warrior of Erthydrin (page 32). They meet in one of the ruins of the "Sunset Folk" or ancestors of the Savanti (page 20). Please note, only one "s" in sunset, not suns set. So Kregen used to have only one sun, right?
After lighting the sorzart fleet afire the four escape via boat for refuge in Proconia. But Prescot had to dive off a 150-foot cliff to accomplish this and you know Seg is special when he then commented " what kept you"?
The relationship between Dray and Seg grows. In chapter 4 the bowman casts his lot with Prescot (and thereby prospers). We learn that (to Dray's chagrin), that Seg had entered the Inner Sea via the Dam of Days. He must wait another score of years before doing so. Seg had hired out as a mercenary to Pattelonia, the chief city of Proconia. A coalition of other Proconians (in alliance with Magdag) defeated his host and thus his slave status when Prescot came upon him. While describing his recent misfortunes, Dray makes "suitable sympathetic noises". We discover (from Seg) that there is a Vallian fortress at the northern tip of Erthyrdrin that has withstood the attacks of Seg's kinfolk, and Bulmer already lays the seeds for Vallia's "Time of Troubles". On page 43 he refers to how Vallias boast of unity (on one landmass) would cost it dearly. We know it does in "Captive Scorpio".
Dray tells Seg he is from Zenicce and thus a Segesthan. It is not until "Fires of Scorpio" that he relates his earthly origin and servitude to the Everoinye to his best buddy. Seg senses something more and in his fey manner says, "he knows what he knows". Dray responds "what do you know Seg "? (page 43) We never really learn as Seg turns taciturn.
Dray does browbeat the Lady Pulvia (despite his denial) and eventually the rescue is accomplished and he and Seg are imprisoned in the town of Happapat where they easily escape. I really don't understand the reason for their imprisonment. The two comrades then attempt to go to Magdag but the Star Lords intervene (weather-wise) and Seg sees the Gdoinye (page 41). Could be a sign of future favor with Zena Itzar? This interference by the Star Lords reaffirms Dray's "belief" that the slave insurrection has failed.
So how did the Proconians end up settling the eastern end of the Inner Sea and not be either of the red or green. Therein lies a story (I bet). And is it or is it not a man's world (on Kregen)? On page 39 Prescot says it is a world for both and never underestimates a woman.
I learned another word from Ken today and don't recall seeing it on my numerous re-reads: "chiaroscuro-shot" (page 60). The utilization of light and shade in pictorial representation. I guess this is one of the many reasons I continue to read the Dray Prescot Saga over and over.
Getting back to Seg, because so far, he is what "Warrior of Scorpio" is about. Dray is impressed with his courage in facing nature and the sea, despite his lack of experience there. Because Dray had teased him and even offered him a slice of juicy vosk steak, when Seg was so obviously sea sick, he glared at Prescot after successfully combating the rashoon and his fears. Dray did not laugh and felt bad later, because he knew Seg had expected him to.
Seg relates (while journeying with Dray on the Inner Sea), the tale of obtaining the wood from a sacred Yerthyr tree for his first real longbow. The only trouble was it was located on Kak Kakutorio's land and Seg was "nearly" caught. The wood was such a dark green as to be almost ebony. Dray and Seg will often ruminate about that day. Seg also expounds on the flint arrowheads of his homeland and how they are superior to bone, copper, bronze, and even iron (but not steel). Seg shares my own view on bronze: " It's a pretty metal is bronze, and I have an affection for it".
Another example of the future team of Dray and Seg is when the bowman joins the Lord of Strombor in rescuing Delia (and Thelda) from a sinking Proconian ship. To quote: " A voice yelled in my ear. "Pass her (Thelda) back!" "Here Seg." I knew it was him, and there was no time for my gratitude. He was no seaman, he could probably swim with a dogcrawl; he was risking more than I here, on the deck of this sinking ship." Thelda, now! A buxom hell cat whose ankles were a bit too thick. Prescot is pretty much a legman, what with his observations on thighs, calves, and ankles. And Thela "means well". I wish I had a buck for every time that phrase is spoken! As it turns out, she is Delia's chief lady in waiting and Seg's future first wife. But now she works for the Racters ... Prescot mentions how sadly he underestimated the troubles ahead for Seg and Thelda. I wonder if he is thinking ahead to when they are separated during "Savage Scorpio" and both are remarried when next they meet.
While rescuing Delia, Prescot fights off a couple of Inner Sea sharks or chanks. I am minded of Tarl Cabot's epic struggle with similar creatures in "Tribesmen of Gor".
Once again the Star Lords interfere, weather-wise (page 62), so Sanurkazz is out and Pattelonia a yes (after the taking of the Grodnim swifter and the rescuing of Delia and Thelda. During the taking of that enemy ship (really Seg's idea), Dray slays the captain and salutes his courage. Again, mysteriously, he says that "then" he considered the killing of the Overlords worthy.
Dray had wanted Delia to meet Mayfwy but that won't happen until "The Tides of Kregen" and Prescot would not be present to observe. I for one, would like to have been a fly on the wall for that meeting!
Lastly, we find that Shallon is Prescot's "agent" in Sanurkazz. Do we see him or hear of him in the Krozair Cycle and those damn missing cassettes! I would like to have heard the story of Prescot freeing his oar slaves and the horror almost visited on him for it.
Now it's off to Proconia and the Hostile Territories!
So Dray and Seg have rescued Delia and Thelda. Unfortunately for Seg, Thelda shows no interest in him, yet ... For now, she "fusses" on Dray and later on we learn why, the Racters ... Delia is illustrated by Tim Kirk on page 66 and while a well drawn picture, it does not capture the sexuality of Delia, such as on the Josh Kirby cover.
Upon arriving in Pattelonia, the foursome meets Pur Zenkiren, the Archbold elect of the Krozairs of Zy. I knew he was the heir apparent, but didn't realize that he in fact was next in line for the post. It is interesting that Zenkiren is mentioned twice concerning the Star Lords (pages 70 &75). First he believes that some power or fate does in fact prevent Prescot from returning to the Inner Sea (via sudden weather changes) and Dray believes this has to do with the mysticism of the Krozairs. He certainly does connect with Zena Iztar in the Krozair Cycle, Zenkiren talks with Delia about many things, including Mayfwy. Dray is glad that they can now be "frank" about this subject. This leads me to believe that he had not dallied, with Zorg's widow.
I found it quite humorous when Seg (yet again) cuts a stave from someone's private tree. This time it was a Pattelonian noble, Uppippoo of Lower Pattelonia. Dray is a riot as he diplomatically resolves this complex issue. Especially this three liner: "Oh-ho!" I said. I looked at Seg. He gripped the stave with the clutch of a man sliding over the side of an airboat. Almost like a kid, to my mind. This noble actually calls Prescot an imbecile and gets away with it! (page 72).
Learned another word " tessellated" - to form into a mosaic pattern. But I guess most of you knew that.
A harbinger of the Havilfar Cycle is when Dray mentions (page 74), that the fliers from that continent break down constantly. And why aren't there any in the Eye of the World. Certainly not for the same reason as Loh. When delia finally tells Seg that they are not returning to Vallia via the grand Canal, but by voller, over the Stratemsk, he is shocked. Any idea of bailing out ends when Delia says "anyway, that's the way Thelda and I got here..."
Before leaving the Inner Sea, Prescot does admit that the Grodnim do superior work in the "tooling" of Sanurkazzian leather. That must eat away at him. And lastly, before leaving Zenkiren, he tells Dray that an offensive is about to be launched against Magdag, to benefit from the confusion caused by the slave revolt. Zenkiren expects the call of the Krozairs will go out (page 69). Does this mean that this can happen in good times as well as bad? Certainly this particular call never happened, or Dray would have heard it.
So the two couples take off in the flier and cross the Stratemsk. They are massive but not the highest on Kregen. Do we ever learn what mountains are (page 76)? In the foothills (Inner Sea side), they see the croferman. I'm not sure if they are a race of diffs or simply a collection of barbaric tribes. Then Delia sees the Gdoinya (page 78). She must feature in the Star Lords plans, if not the Savanti's. Shortly after making the crossing of the Stratemsk, they are forced down and must trek the balance of the Hostile Territories of Eastern Turismond. Their spirits are high as one of their most memorable and oft talked about adventures begin (chapter 9).
And so the legendary march across the Hostile Territories of Eastern Turismond begins. Dray, Delia, Seg and Thelda talk, sing, march, hide, and generally have a blast in the doing of it. Seg gives Dray pointers on archery and Prescot improves greatly because of this, but is never the bowman's equal. Although their friendly rivalry in shooting has its' origins here (page 86). I mentioned hiding because warriors astride impiters and corths are spotted. So, King Zazz's word of this is true after all. Also, the four adventurers hide from or avoid the isolated city-states, many of which are peopled by diffs. Among them: Ochs, Rapas, Chuliks, Ullars, and Harfners (page 96). I would be curious to see how a city of specific diffs functions as opposed to their being a minority in other lands. Of course this situation is again encountered on Ba-Domek ... A view of a Harfnar astride his winged steed is seen on page 102. Tim Kirk did well here.
During this adventure-filled trek, Dray mentions the term "beastmen" and is not corrected by Seg (page 86). In fact, Sweg says "halfmen", himself on page 88. One would think that Seg, a native of Paz would use "diff" or at least not use "beastmen" or "halfmen".
Thelda is all over Dray (as usual) and this helps out the soon to be almost mythological vilmy/fallimy flower incident. This well-meaning woman made a paste (pages 82 & 83) from the wrong (but similar looking flower) to act as a salve for his chest wounds. Seg will later relate the story to Milsi and is shamed for doing so. Instead, the paste was one used for scouring dirty pans (fairly corrosive). When Delia hints at what actually happened, Dray knew "Something Was Up". This is the first use of capital letters in the latter tradition of Deb-Lu. Nevertheless, Delia does appear to be getting somewhat jealous and when Dray suggests that Thelda put the burning paste on her own "imposing bosom", well...
We hear of the maritime trade rivalry between Vallia and Pandahem (page 97), and that animosity will come into play soon enough! A battle with Morfangs (pages 89-94) tests Prescot's mettle and reminds me of his later fight with the "spit-balls " of Kregen, on Ba-Domek. I am curious as to what category to place the Morfangs in. They can pick up and throw stones, communicate (hisses) with each other, plan strategy for attacks, and are referred to as "quasi-intelligent", several times. Dray wonders about the outcome "if they had been armed". This almost sounds like talk of primitive diffs. However, the eerie manner (or one manner of) reproduction (severed tentacles grow into Morfangs), detracts from this idea.
Eventually, Delia is abducted by Harfnars that had just defeated (via treachery), an army of Lohvians, from the ancient outpost/city-state of Hiclantung. He and Seg are knocked out as the diffs flee with their prize. I'm surprised they did not finish the job then and there. As if things were not bad enough, with Dray believing his beloved abducted by beastmen, Thelda informs him she is dead. That Delia had fallen from the impiter and drowned in a tarn (how I love that word). After trying again and again to search the murky depths (Seg rides with him, as ever), Dray sinks into a despair, similar to that when he was living with his Clansmen and thought Delia slain by halfmen. Even the seductive wiles of Thelda and Queen Lilah can't perk Prescot up. He does put up an incredible battle while defending Lilah and her nephew Hwang in the cortdrome (pages 112 - 118). It reminded me of Tarl Cabot's battle in the northlands to regain his honor. During the battle, Dray thought "if only Seg were here" and not for the last time mind you!
At last word comes that Delia may in fact be alive (even if possibly the plaything of the Ullars). So, Thelda lied ... And plans must be made.
It now appears (but is not certain) that Delia has been abducted by Umgar Stro, the Ullar warlord. At this time he is ensconced in the former Rapa city of Plicla. Dray (like myself) wonders at their lifestyle before their calamity. I shutter to think of the wholesale slaughter of that population. I suppose a few were spared for slavery (maybe harems? ) The exact relationship between the Ullars of Plicla and the Harfnars of Chersonang is vague at this time. Dray and Seg set out on corths to effect her rescue but end up with Lu-si-Yuong, the first Wizard of Walfarg we meet (page 138). During this mission Dray confronts two Ullars and Tim Kirk does a super job of illustrating them on page 135. One is named Bargo and it reminds me of a Khamaroo (perhaps from "Manhounds of Antares").
Several relationships develop in Hiclantung : Seg and Delia become closer (page 125), Lilah attempts to seduce Dray (what else is new ? ) (pages 125-128), Thelda and Lilah almost have a go at it (pages 127 & 128). Zair forgive me again, but I wish they had gotten to it and ripped each others clothes off. No offense meant, but...
When they both wail "Oh Dray", you've just gotta smile.
Upon their return to Hiclantung, Lu-si-Yuong goes into lupu and sees Thelda captive. So the two comrades set out on another rescue mission and I believe this leads to one of Stylor's favorite scenes.
Ah yes, two of my favorite metals are mentioned a few times: copper and bronze. This pleases me! Two other types of winged steeds are mentioned: zizils and yuelshis (pages 123 & 131). I don't recall their being referred to later, at all.
The interplay between Thelda and Queen Lilah provide many humorous moments (pages 147-149). For one, Thelda calls Lilah a skinny rast-bag! She is to pay for that as the torturers take her to the dungeons to be their "plaything". Naked she is and totally vulnerable. The fate of women in the hands of their conquerors is so degrading and I feel for poor Thelda's plight! At least Seg remedied that situation, but not before having to ask Prescot to follow him instead of the Queen. Very un-Prescotian-like (page 151). After Thelda's rescue is effected and the trio stand before the notorious Queen of Pain again. But not before the thick-ankled Vallian shrieks "and me? " No doubt sure that she will end up naked with the torturers again.
When Naghan the Spy returns from his activities to report on whether Delia is in fact the prisoner of Umgar Stro, Lilah halts him at the precise moment of revelation and extracts a promise from Prescot to lead the host of Hiclantung against Chersonang. He agrees (out of necessity) but is really only a titular general. The Lohvians lead and thereby cause Dray to find Delia (indirectly). Dray and Seg should have been given direct control of the army. In that case, they would have sent scouts out from the battlefield where the Ullars were initially defeated (and thus discover the host of Harfnars approaching). Also, they would have made the Lohvians maintain their formations after the first battle. But this didn't happen and the Harfnar's triumph or as Thelda sobs " the army ran away! ) In the midst of the chaotic defeat Thelda finally responds to Seg (page 167).
Dray informs the Queen's nephew, Hwang, that Seg is perfectly accustomed to commanding men in combat. Is he? He certainly develops into a great general, but this is at the dawn of his career. I guess that comment lays the groundwork for Seg to be Prescot's right-hand man. On the same page (158) Dray says that he comes to know Seg's homeland of Erthyrdrin much better, later. Except for a brief stopover at the tip, I don't recall ever visiting there at all.
As for Naghan the spy, Dray is impressed, as he has no back down in him, baleful stares and all. He actually sizes Dray up and is like-wise impressed. Curiously, he refers to the Ullars as "half-men" (page 161).
And when one of Lilah's councilors suggests that a woman can't be raped unless she desires it, Lilah smiles "reflectively". Was she thinking on the men she had raped, mutilated, and discarded? I'm not sure I want to know.
On page 169 Dray reflects on the fact that even Mayfwy could not deflect him from Delia. More fuel for my theory that Dray had stayed true to Delia.
And it looks like Seg and Thelda are dead, trampled by Harfnar calvary. Seg, in an act of heroism had gone back to rescue Thelda. When Dray tries to do likewise he is knocked out and captured, and thus indirectly brought to Umgar Stro.
We never find out if Queen Lilah survives the battle but assume that Hwang and the remnants of his regiment do. Do they manage to keep the Ullars and Harfnars from following up on their victory. After all, Hiclantung must have a serious manpower problem after losing two major battles.
When last we left Dray he was a prisoner of Umgar Stro in Chersonang. Upon being brought to the arena where the Ullars and Harfners (on separate sides) watched, he espies his beloved Delia. She is (and not for the last time mind you), tied to a stake, nude, and spread eagle. I find it extremely hard to believe that a lecher like Umgar Stro would not have raped Delia. Lilah says he wants a willing submission, but somehow I think a brutal rape will suit him just fine and then turn her over to his cohorts. Thankfully that did not happen. Naturally there is a bloodthirsty beast about to molest, eat, or suck her dry. In this case it is a Ullgishoa. Its type is never mentioned again. Dray destroys it in messy fashion and then proceeds to break Umgar Stro's back with a satisfactory snap and they both escape on the despot's corth (see the colorful cover art by Josh Kirby. Delia is to die for !). Of course Dray also rescues his Krozair longsword bestowed on him by Purr Zenkiren in Pattelonia. At the time when it seemed the pursuit would catch up, the day is saved by the timely arrival of a Vallian voller (a very large one at that). They see the diffs off handily enough! (See Tim Kirk's illustration opposite the title page. Nice view of the voller). I am still somewhat confused on the relationship between the Ullars and Harfners. The former are newly arrived in Picla from far Ullardrin while the latter have been entrenched in Chersonang since the fall of the Empire of Walfarg. Is it an alliance? Do the Ullars under Umgar Stro have dominance? Will his death mean the break up of this relationship and perhaps save Hiclantung?
There are three people aboard this voller worth mentioning. Two of them feature prominently later on in the saga. They are: Lord Farris of Vomansoir, Naghan Vanki, and Tele Karkis. The first is the head of Vallia's air service, the second is the Emperor's spy master, and the last a young airman (Hikdar) of no particular importance. Yet, he impressed Dray. He is never seen again, or is he...
Well, just when things are looking good and Dray is on his way to Vallia with Delia, to confront the dreaded Emperor, he is drugged and left in the Hostile Territories. This, at the orders of the Racters. Actually we discover they wanted Prescot dead, but Vanki intervenes and gives Dray a chance (slim though it may be) for life. So he dons his garb and weapons (thoughtfully left behind also) and starts his trek to the ocean. As the chapter says "on my own two feet, then". Perhaps you've noted how I've incorporated that phrase on all our posts. I think it describes Dray and his attitude, very succinctly.
So the march begins and Dray wonders if Delia thinks him afraid to meet her father...
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