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Imaro (Imaro #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  35 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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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienMagician by Raymond E. FeistLegend by David Gemmell
Best Heroic Fantasy
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
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 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
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.
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
May 26, 2009 Mohammed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Edward Erdelac
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
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.
Pierre Armel
Je viens de finir le pavé qu'est l'intégrale de IMARO, sorti chez Mnémos fin 2013: waooh, quelle claque.

Charles Saunders a créé son héros il y a une trentaine d'années en réaction aux héros toujours blancs de l'heroic fantasy classique et à ses clichés raciaux et l'a ancré dans une Afrique fantasmée en appliquant les mêmes recettes que RE Howard (dont il s'avoue fan) pour l'age hyborien. Tout est là : un héros barbare et solitaire (mais au final bien complexe que son lointain cousin cimmérien),
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
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.

"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
This is a revised version of the original Imaro novel, which itself was "stitched together" from several separately published short stories and novellas.

In essence the plot is a variation of the fantasy staple “farm boy with a destiny” – Imaro is forced, alone, from his home into strange environments where a series of encounters prepare and steer him towards an epic confrontation with evil forces.

The twist being that instead of your standard pseudo-medieval peasant farmer Imaro hails from a Mas
Jake Scholl

Imaro is a bastard child, his mother leaves him with her tribe , and he fights to gain acceptance. He leaves eventually, to find his place among different people. But supernatural forces will interfere.


Tired of European style heroic fantasy? Look no further than Imaro by Charles Saunders. Instead of a European style setting, it takes place in an African style setting. Exciting right? Saunders was inspired by Africa, and the many African myths, and has used them to make an entirely n
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
“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
Elijah Spector
Classic sword and sorcery in which the antihero is the toughest man in the world, and kills a monster at the end of every story, with the added bonus of being set in an extremely rich fantasy Africa milieu. Saunders doesn't just have some vague idea of what an African fantasy world would be, he goes to great lengths to show a great, great breadth of cultures, physical types, and civilizations, all in service of a mighty-thewed warrior chopping people to bits.

It's a lot of fun, with the first thi
Jul 19, 2007 John rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sword and sorcery fans, African fantasy fans
I reread this recently because I was briefly involved in an
RPG set in an African fantasy setting. Saunders was a pioneer
in that setting about 30 years ago. Somebody called Imaro a
"chocolate-coated Conan" which I think is fair enough. The
stories are heavy on action and ugly monsters, short on subtlety. I enjoy that sort of thing for relaxation. One
aspect that troubled me this time through (I Initially read these books in the 70s when they came out) is that one group of villains are the Giant King
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
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
Oct 31, 2014 Words marked it as to-read
At first, quick glance I read the title as LMAO. Ah, that's an 'i'. And there's an 'r' in there, too.
Oh, me.
An engrossing read full of monsters, magic and history!
Of all the things which were clearly inspired by Howard, this may very well be the best. It has the most original setting, a great use of magic (which physically deforms its users even as it becomes addictive) and a hero of questionable moral effect on the realms which he travels.

Saunder's writing starts out somewhat jilted but quickly finds its groove, making me want to read the sequels ASAP as even within book one I felt the writing got noticeably better with time. Hopefully they will release
Ceased reading at the point at which I couldn't stop thinking about the Rwanda genocide, because although the book was written well before the historical events, the names of the two antagonistic peoples in the story were too close to Hutu and Tutsi.
Aaron Meyer
A great set of stories. I love how each story flowed right into the other. This particular edition contains the story "The Afua" which takes the place of the "Slaves of the Giant-Kings" from the first edition of the Imaro stories and some revisions to the rest of the stories.
Charles Saunders Imaro stories are a must have on ones sword and sorcery shelf, hands down.
I have always been a fan of the Sword and Sorcery genre. Mr. Saunders is one of the best. I love the fact that his tales are set in parts of Africa! I remember purchasing these books Years ago and I have read and re-read them intermittently over the years. I do not have the updated versions but I hope to remedy that. Mr.Saunders, I salute you!
Aug 09, 2008 David added it
Shelves: sword-sorcery
I used to think of Sword & Sorcery as the province of the Big Three: Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock. After reading Imaro I may have to make that the Big Four.
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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)
The Quest for Cush (Imaro #2) The Trail of Bohu Dossouye (Dossouye, #1) Damballa The Naama War (Imaro, #4)

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