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Prisoner of the Horned Helmet –

Prisoner of the Horned Helmet

Friday , 15, September 2023 1 Comment
This is a guest post from Jared:
Prisoner of the Horned Helmet is the first in a four-book series to tell the story of Gath of Baal a.k.a. the Death Dealer from Frank Frazetta’s famed paintings. James SIlke is listed as the author of the Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer series (not to be confused with comic books that came later). Unfortunately, I have never seen another book by Silke. He has a knack for crafting an S&S story.
An expert on pulps and S&S once explained to me that S&S stories, by and large, are composed of elements from three other subgenres: lost world, historical fiction, and cosmic horror. Also, and just as importantly, good S&S necessarily involves “violence and titties.” I agree, and so would SIlke, I presume. He checks all these boxes effortlessly, providing a story that has all the right ingredients, but also some filler.

This book has a great S&S story surrounded by fluff and extraneous material. The plot has four elements:
1. Gath of Baal- a barbarian warrior who lives deep in the forest with only the company of a wolf. He is a brooding, yet good, guy who just wants to be left alone.
2. Cobra – serpent queen and servant of the Master of Death. It seems as though she is a sexy skinsuit animated by snakes writhing internally. Hard to tell. Based on the descriptions of her though, even if she were a bunch of snakes in a skinsuit that would not stop me from going to town. It did not stop Gath either.
3. Forest People’s including Robin, the love interest, and Brown John a benevolent puppet master.
4. Kitzaak horde-  Mongols trying to invade the forest. They also have a sorcerer.
Cobra wants Gath to wear the horned helmet and serve the master of death. Brown John wants Gath to lead tribes against the Kitzaak horde. Robin is the only one who can take the helmet off of Gath.
The action scenes in this are great. Gath is a badass. The lore around the helmet is great. There are some good creepy S&S vibes throughout. Unfortunately, there are 50-70 pages of unnecessary prose. S&S works best when it has a tight story and high economy of words. This book came out at a time when fantasy books were getting bigger so this may have been an editorial decision to add so much fluff.
I give it a 7/10. Any teenage boy could pick this up and become a reader again, if it were thinner. It has all the right elements to keep a guy interested and entertained. The prose is not pretentious. It has “violence and titties.” I can confidently recommend this despite the extraneous material.  If the prose was tighter by 50-70 pages, it would be an S&S classic.
One Comment
  • Ali says:

    I read these books years ago and loved them.

    Reread them recently and still love them.

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