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"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Review Week! Part 3: KING OF THE BASTARDS by Brian Keene and Steven Shrewsbury

Howdy, pardners.  In case'n ya didn' know, it's Review Week! here on yonder blog.  Enjoy!


Rogan has been many things in his life as an adventurer — a barbarian, a thief, a buccaneer, a rogue, a lover, a reaver, and most recently, a king. Now, this prehistoric bane of wizards and tyrants finds himself without a kingdom, lost in a terrifying new world, and fighting for his life against pirates, zombies, and the demonic entity known as Meeble. And even if he defeats his foes, Rogan must still find a way to return home, regain his throne, save his loved ones, and remind everyone why he's the

It's available on Amazon, Barnes and NobleApexAbeBooks, Kobo, Book Depository, and you can discuss it on Goodreads.


When people complain about "Game of Thrones" being too violent or too eager to kill off characters, I often roll my eyes. Life's pretty fucking short and miserable for the vast majority of the world's population these days, and I can only imagine what it was like in the Middle Ages when most people were just the property of a few rich assholes whose only real sport was killing other rich assholes. (Actually, maybe not so much has changed after all.)

But I digress. KING OF THE BASTARDS is set in a grimdark world full of characters who cast aside even the tiny veneer of civilization that the rich assholes of "Game of Thrones" wear. Rogan, the titular King of the Bastards, is a particularly brutish human being who apparently thinks nothing of shitting into an enemy's gaping wound on the battlefield. He has no respect for anything or anyone and only his unwavering loyalty to his blood relatives could be considered a positive character trait - albeit, he usually expresses that loyalty through gruesome bouts of Burgessian ultra-violence.

This is my first time reading Shrewsbury's work, so quite a few references were lost on me. The story is self-contained, but I gather that Rogan has already had and will go on to have many adventures all over his world. From what I can piece together, Rogan lives in a version of our world with Bronze Age aesthetics. He took over the throne of Albion (England) got bored and took to the ocean, where he wrecked on what seems strongly implied to be North America.

Now, I am more familiar with Keene's work, and we quickly learn that the antagonist of this self-contained story is Meeble, one of the Thirteen deicidal extradimensional beings from Keene's Labyrinth Mythos. All signs point to a showdown between Rogan and Meeble, and our intrepid authors do not disappoint.

This is very much a grimdark fantasy by way of extreme horror - about what you'd expect from these collaborators. From Rogan's first fight on the high seas to his final showdown with Meeble, countless gallons of blood and miles of intestines are spilled, eyeballs are popped, and corpses are mutilated. Horror and fantasy fans alike will find a lot to enjoy about this novel.

About Brian Keene:

BRIAN KEENE writes novels, comic books, short fiction, and occasional journalism for money. He is the author of over forty books, mostly in the horror, crime, and dark fantasy genres. His 2003 novel, THE RISING, is often credited (along with Robert Kirkman’s "The Walking Dead" comic and Danny Boyle’s "28 Days Later" film) with inspiring pop culture’s current interest in zombies. Keene’s novels have been translated into German, Spanish, Polish, Italian, French, Taiwanese, and many more. In addition to his own original work, Keene has written for media properties such as Doctor Who, Hellboy, Masters of the Universe, and Superman.

Several of Keene’s novels have been developed for film, including "Ghoul," "The Ties That Bind," and "Fast Zombies Suck." Several more are in-development or under option. Keene also serves as Executive Producer for the independent film studio Drunken Tentacle Productions.

Keene also oversees Maelstrom, his own small press publishing imprint specializing in collectible limited editions, via Thunderstorm Books.

Keene’s work has been praised in such diverse places as The New York Times, The History Channel, The Howard Stern Show,, Publisher’s Weekly, Media Bistro, Fangoria Magazine, and Rue Morgue Magazine. He has won numerous awards and honors, including the World Horror 2014 Grand Master Award, two Bram Stoker Awards, and a recognition from Whiteman A.F.B. (home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber) for his outreach to U.S. troops serving both overseas and abroad. A prolific public speaker, Keene has delivered talks at conventions, college campuses, theaters, and inside Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, VA.

The father of two sons, Keene lives in rural Pennsylvania.

You can follow Brian on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

About Steven Shrewsbury:

STEVEN L. SHREWSBURY lives, works, and writes in rural Illinois. Over 360 of his short stories have appeared in print or electronic media along with over 100 poems. 9 of his novels have been released, with more on the way. His books run from sword & sorcery (OVERKILL, THRALL, BEDLAM UNLEASHED) to historical fantasy (GODFORSAKEN) extreme horror (HAWG, TORMENTOR, STRONGER THAN DEATH) to horror-westerns (HELL BILLY, BAD MAGICK, and the forthcoming LAST MAN SCREAMING).

He loves books, British TV, guns, movies, politics, sports and hanging out with his sons. He’s frequently outdoors, looking for brightness wherever it may hide.

You can follow Steven on Facebook and his website.

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