“You may talk of cities and justice all you wish. Tonight, the pagan wins. My anger will be sated and these wicked people brought to ruin.”
Mortu and Kyrus in the White City is a new novella out from Cirsova standout Schuyler Hernstrom, the first in a planned series equally sword and sorcery and far future post-apocalyptic.
Speaking of Cirsova, congrats to Donald Uitvlugt on winning the Cirsova no. 9 giveaway! Check out Donald’s own work.
Mortu and Kyrus in the White City is a classic barbarian and trickster story, with Mortu playing the role of barbarian and Kyrus the trickster. Only Mortu is the sort of barbarian who rides an iron steed and the trickster is a monk-magically-turned-into-a-monkey.
Hernstrom is coy about the setting, but it draws heavily from the post-apocalyptic tradition, with recognizable elements mixed in with fantastical creatures and references to space travel (this is definitely an everything-in-the-pot story in the pulp tradition). E.g., Mortu’s “iron horse” is pretty clearly a motorcycle.
Hernstrom almost gives us both too much and too little worldbuilding. It slows the story down at time, with elements likely aimed at the future, but it also left me wanting more, which is a good thing for the opening salvo in a planned series. There are lots of little touches like armor fashioned from the chitin of giant centipedes and drakes wheeling overhead.
Mortu and Kyrus save a caravan from nomads. That caravan leads them to a settlement in the abandoned, alien city. The mysteries of the city provide the heart of the story.
Mortu and Kyrus in the White City is a reaction to a very famous short story. If you’ve read it or read about it, you will probably recognize what Hernstrom is doing by the end. I had not, so I missed out on a key element of the story.
This isn’t his best work, but I’m not sure Hernstrom can write anything that I won’t at least like. And I am very much looking forward to the next volume in the adventures of Mortu and Kyrus.
4 of 5 Stars.