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Imaro (Imaro #1)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  342 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Saunders' novel fuses the narrative style of fantasy fiction with a pre-colonial, alternate Africa. Inspired by and directly addresses the alienation of growing up an African American fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which to this day remains a very ethnically homogonous genre. It addresses this both structurally (via its unique setting) and thematically (via its aliena ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by Night Shade Books (first published 1981)
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(showing 1-30)
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J.G. Keely
In the hands of its most talented practitioners, Sword & Sorcery can be thrilling, scintillating, and deeply ironic--which makes it all the more regrettable to see just how thoughtless and cliche depictions of race and sex tend to be in the genre. Part of what excited me about the prospect of reading this hard-to-find series was that it is very much about race, a self-aware deconstruction of one of the genre’s historic failings.

It is that--as well as a dip into African History, a fascinating
S.E. Lindberg
Quality Adventure with Legendary Context

Style & Legendary Motivations:
This unique blend of Lovecraft & African mythology features a Conan-like hero. It’s pulpy style & storytelling may merit 4 stars: its uniqueness & place in literature boost it to 5.

Imaro is adventure in the vein of vintage, pulp periodicals. Expect heavy doses of sorcery & horror at a brisk pace. Unlike traditional pulp stories, these chapters are slightly less-episodic and more-chronological. In other wor
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
C. Michael
Oct 08, 2012 C. Michael rated it it was amazing
I just read Imaro and it was rewarding reading experience I've had in quite some time.

I loved the Conan novels as a teen and imagined at some point writing a story with a black protagonist. Imaro is something like what I had in mind, but I've got to admit, much better! It's obvious Saunders immersed himself in African culture to create this world. The culture of the Masai-like Illassai is depicted so realistically and the story seems so grounded in reality that by the time the paranormal raises
Mar 12, 2010 D.K. rated it it was amazing
Imaro’s mother surrendered her five year old son so that he could become a great warrior of the Ilyassai tribe. His mother’s people treated him with disdain and ridicule. Through it all, Imaro grew to be the biggest and strongest of the Ilyassai children. When he reached manhood and the time had come for him to truly become an Ilyassai warrior and be accepted by his mother’s people, an evil magician strip him of that reward, spiraling Imaro’s life into a world of slavery, murderous thieves, and ...more
Jul 30, 2008 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Very inventive sword & sorcery set in an Alternate Africa. Virtually unique at the time it came out in introducing a hero who was black into a heroic fantasy setting. This is the first of three books in a series, although the three don't make a trilogy in the standard sense. Each book stands on its own.
Mar 26, 2017 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable collection of interlocking tales about Imaro. I enjoyed how the menace throughout the stories evolved into a world encompassing evil leading up to the next book.
Sep 04, 2016 Derek rated it really liked it
Not a Conan or an anti-Conan in concept, but it is interesting how Saunders takes the basic principle of an outcast, a warrior who has left his homeland, and made it work for him. The violence that Conan wields and Robert E Howard seems to worship is here a sour and unsettling thing, borne of anger and alienation and other psychic poison. Imaro might be a noteworthy warrior and possibly a talented leader of men, but those who follow him will eventually turn from loyalty and admiration to fear.

Ευθυμία Δεσποτάκη
Καταρχήν, όπως δηλώνει κι ο ίδιος ο Σώντερς, είναι στην ουσία Imaro Revisited, δηλαδή όχι μια απλή επιμέλεια, αλλά και αρκετές αλλαγές σχετικά με το τι περιέχει η κάθε νουβέλα. Ειδικά για την αντικατάσταση του κομματιού "The Slaves of the Giant-Kings" με το "The Afua" μιλάει ο ίδιος διεξοδικά για το πώς ένιωσε όταν είδε αυτό που εκείνος είχε γράψει ως μια περιπέτεια, να γίνεται αληθινό και μάλιστα με τόσο τραγικό αποτέλεσμα.

Ο Ιμάρο είναι τελικά όπως ακριβώς τον περίμενα. Δεν είναι ο Κόναν μαύρος
Edward Erdelac
Jan 24, 2012 Edward Erdelac rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable sword and sorcery novel, Howardian in its excitement, and a bit above and beyond in terms of characterization. Though Imaro is the kind of superman that slashes his way through this genre, he's also capable of three dimensional thought and feeling, which is how I like to think Howard might have progressed had he lived.

Saunders does not limit Imaro or himself to a historical or prehistoric world, but instead fashions a fantastic Africa that never was, crawling with demons and magic
Mar 03, 2008 Nick rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sword
In the thirty-plus years since the stories in this book first appeared, the writer has matured, and rewritten major segments that he felt no longer worked for him, or his intended audience. This "creator revisionism" annoyed me a bit, but his goal was to remove aspects of the story that were too close to tragic events that had since occurred in the real world.
Written as a response to the earlier Eurocentric trends in Sword & Sorcery fantasy, the Imaro stories create an Africa every bit as my
I've seen better writing on fanfiction Livejournals. There are no words to express how extremely disappointing this was. One of the few Africa-inspired fantasy epics out there and it was just dreadful. Important in the grand scheme of the history of fantasy as a genre I suppose, but only because it exists. I guess somebody had to go first.
Jack Snow
Apr 22, 2017 Jack Snow rated it really liked it

Fairly standard S&S, although the African influences lend a bit more interest than I normally would have with the genre. Decent book, but not really my type of story, so I probably won't continue with it.
Apr 17, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it
I picked this up with the intention of reading a single story as a break from a long, demanding read, and ended up reading this exclusively to its end. I am now struck by a mixture of feelings both happy and sad: the former, because these stories were great fun and a wonderful discovery to behold; the latter, because Saunders is a lost (and yet living) light in adventure fiction--to the extent that this book, and its immediate sequel, are no longer in print.

I came across this title in a post abo
Dec 25, 2012 Simon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Inspired by Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery stories but disappointed by the lack of fantasy stories set in Africa, with black heroes and with an appreciation of the rich diversity of the continent's cultures, Saunders decided to write his own. And I have to say, what a fantastic job he did.

We follow Imaro from his mysterious and humble beginnings through his coming of age and his travels across a semi-mythical Africa as he meets friends, lovers and enemies, as eventually he discovers that h
Jason M Waltz
Nov 26, 2015 Jason M Waltz rated it liked it
well this one is a challenge. Highly regarded author and character, very much wanted to read this; bought it and started reading it over a year ago... picked it up to continue reading about 2 weeks ago and finished strong. obviously the first half of the book did not hook me. in fact I was rather disappointed. interestingly enough, now that I finished the book and the afterword and reread the author's forward, I see it is the newest story of the collection (the one Saunders had to rewrite for mo ...more
Jan 14, 2009 Mohammed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Sword and Sorcery,Heroic Fantasy,Robert E.Howard fans
Great and original Sword & Sorcery set in ancient alternate africa.
Imaro is inspired by Robert.E Howard but Charles.R Saunders is his own man with his taut prose,fascinating alternate Africa,he can also write action scenes as well as the best in this kind of fantasy.

A hidden gem. A must for every fan of S&S/Heroic fantasy.
May 04, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it
It's really hard to talk about Imaro without mentioning the Conan stories, not least becasue that's how it was originally sold to me, as "What if the Conan stories were written by a black man and based on African culture instead of European and American culture" (and a European understanding of South Asia and Africa in Ghulistan and the Black Kingdoms). And it's true that this book is rooted in Conan-style sword and sorcery. Imaro is a warrior from a warrior culture, massive in size yet cat-like ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Adam rated it it was ok
Fantasy is practically synonymous with its typical medieval European setting, with a lot of exoticized external cultures. That’s a shame, because that terrain has nearly lost its power to excite our imaginations, and requires a fair bit of talent to pull off in a way that feels creative at this point. Nor does the faux-historical Eurocentric worldview the geography invokes hold up in a world with a very different cultural and political landscape and a much more substantial exposure to non-Wester ...more
Jan 09, 2017 Rabukurafuto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charles Saunders' Imaro was the start of something new, the Afrocentric fantasy adventure—sword-and-soul as Saunders dubbed it. Taking inspiration from what he loved about Robert E. Howard's Conan, discarding what he hated and adding what he needed, Imaro was made for black readers who wanted a hero they could better identify with while showing that a magical Africa was just as viable a setting for fantasy as a magical Europe. Bad luck and poor sales prevented Imaro from becoming better known th ...more
“I go… but I leave a warrior,” so says five year old Imaro’s mother as she leaves him with the Ilyassai (Masai) to train him. But wherever he goes, whenever he accomplishes something there are magicians, shamans and witches to take all his accomplishments, girlfriends and sense of community. Over and over in his life he must battle not only his community, but magic. After the Ilyassai’s savannah he crosses all of Nyumbani (home in Swahili, or Africa here) to the forest and river of Mtumwe. Once ...more
Mar 10, 2013 Timothy rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I was initially very interested in the premise of a sword-and-sorcery tale inspired by pre-colonial Africa, drawing on non-European mythological roots. Unfortunately, Imaro is ultimately a disappointment. Apart from an overabundance of African names and italicized Swahili, the narrative is depressingly straight-forward: Destiny Warrior is stronger than everyone else, suffers endless persecution, mistreats women, becomes king, is conspired against, suffers more persecution. Conan is Saunders' cle ...more
Oct 04, 2012 Lefty rated it it was ok
Not impressed so far ... (see how I use ellipses? Like Saunders ....) Anyway, the story is okay but the writing is amateurish, and not in a good way. I can see why this book has had a rocky past. You really have to believe in it, and I just didn't. Too many clumsy constructions and confusing action scenes left me considering about re-reading a passage to try to get what was going on, but then I thought that it really wasn't worth the effort, and I moved on. Especially (spoiler) when Imaro faces ...more
Aug 15, 2010 Edward rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the greatest Fantasy series available. Imaro I introduces the reader to the Sword and Soul genre. A must read. This book is filled with all of the tragic and heroic exploits expected of a seasoned imagination coupled with a mastery of the pen. Read everything by Charles Saunders!
Vincent Stoessel
Mar 08, 2014 Vincent Stoessel rated it it was amazing
Refreshingly good. This is the gold standard of African influenced fantasy. An epic sword and sorcery tale that ranks with the great classics of a bygone era. This is the first part of an ongoing series and I will be reading the next one.
Aug 25, 2010 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even after reading the Imaro series I enjoyed listening to the audio book narrated by Mirron Willis. Definitely recommended!
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 Timothy Boyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic fantasy series set in ancient africa. These stories have all you need; lost cities and races for the hero to battle. Very recommended
Feb 25, 2012 Shykia rated it it was amazing

"I go...but I leave a warrior behind."

These prophetic words are among the last five-year-old Imaro hears from his shunned mother, Katisa, as she leaves him with her people, the Ilyssai, who are reluctant to accept him. The reason; Imaro was conceived outside of the clan soon after his mother had avoided a forced marriage to the clan's sorcerer. Though a warrior in Katisa's eyes, her young son is faced with the perilous and turbulent journey of proving himself as such to the Ilyssai who alienate
Kalem Wright
Jan 26, 2017 Kalem Wright rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 05, 2013 Helmut rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Sword and Sorcery in imaginärem Afrika

Soviele GUTE Sword&Sorcery-Reihen gibt es, ehrlich, nicht. Howard's Conan und Wagner's Kane sind eigentlich relativ allein für sich, und dann folgt lange nichts, und dann kommt unendlich viel Schrott. Wo passt Imaro da rein? Meines Erachtens ganz oben. Die Atmosphäre, die Saunders erzeugt, kommt schon verdammt nahe ran an die Genrereferenz. Besonders interessant ist dabei, dass hier eine bisher sträflich vernachlässigte Region der Weltkarte erschlossen w
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Saunders was born in 1946 in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and emigrated to Canada in 1970. He has published science fiction and screenplays, two of which have become feature films. Saunders has also written a radio play, as well as other non-fiction works. He currently works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia and is the author of two recent works of historical non-fiction: Share and Care: The Stor ...more
More about Charles R. Saunders...

Other Books in the Series

Imaro (4 books)
  • The Quest for Cush (Imaro #2)
  • The Trail of Bohu
  • The Naama War (Imaro, #4)

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