Rogues of Merth is a collection of tales grown by author Robert Zoltan from the thorny, often carnivorous garden of classic Pulp sword and sorcery. The heroes of these tales are the poet-swordsman Dareon Vin and his companion, the warrior Blue- the latter so nicknamed because of the cerulean tattoos that cover his body (only the people of his culture may know his true name, however). Each man comes from the extremes of civilization and bears their indelible marks: Dareon possesses the culture, craftiness and decadence of the cities, while Blue has the instinct and openness- and sometimes naivete- of one who wanders the open plains and forests.
Their home, Merth, is a porous world with myriad realities weaving in and out of its fabric. Indeed, Dareon and Blue can’t seem to go more than a few weeks without stumbling into another plane of existence or accidentally unleashing a relic from the ancient world. There are hints that a higher power may be tugging the duo along in their adventures. Whether it be Fate, the unnamed gods of Merth, or Dareon’s supposedly imaginary Lady Luck pulling the strings, one cannot say. Along the way they meet and must contend with numerous supernatural oddities: time sailors, demonic diptera, curse-flinging ghosts, laughing gods, serpent goddesses both malignant and benevolent, and even stranger entities.
If there is anything to critique in these tales, it is that at times Dareon and Blue seem a bit too passive about their strange adventures, drifting along wherever the unknown powers take them, escaping dangers and fighting monsters as they come. I would have liked to see a little more agency on their part. But that is a minor point
I would highly recommend Rogues of Merth to readers looking for stories of classic sword and sorcery infused with the adventuresome blood of Leiber’s Lahnkmar mixed with the weird, alien ichor of Moorcock’s ancient Melniboné.
You can get a copy of Rogues of Merth on Amazon.
And check out Robert Zoltan's site Dream Tower Media to see his other work and listen to episodes of the fantastic Literary Wonder & Adventure Show podcast, which I've talked about before.