Weird Fantasy in the vein of Clark Ashton Smith and H.P.Lovecraft.
Paul Ganley Publisher
From Sweet Despise Column:
A wonderfully presented small press collection of stories by James William Hjort. Ebon Roses, Jewelled Skulls is collection of exotic fantasy stories that are heavily influenced by Clark Ashton Smith, with a nod to Lovecraft along the way. Hjort is also an artist and the stories are illustrated with his often excellent drawings and paintings which have an enriching affect on the stories. The opening tale is Dragonride, a story about a man who takes on a Wizard's challenge in order to regain someone he has lost. The story has a twist in its tale, that ends in quite a satisfying conclusion, that shows Hjort has some of Smith's sense of irony but less of his cruelty. Following this is Cthulhu's Gold a story about a thief whose arrogance leads him to rob a strange cult, though of course an fate tinged with irony awaits him. Many of the tales have this same sense of irony, though perhaps too often the sting is lessened by Hjort's desire to neatly wrap up a story with a happy ending. Though sometimes, as with the final story The Orb of Xom-Orthon he allows the sense of darkness to remain. The prose is over poetic and filled with imagery, though it doesn't fall in the trap of trying to mimic Smith's style for Hjort definately has a style of his own. There are ten stories in all with very few lacklustre tales, most are as finely wrought as the art that accompanies them. Other highlights in the collection are the stories Dust of the Necromancer, Andalous and the Chimera and The Ebon Harp. The best of these is probably Dust of the Necromancer, a story about an outcast sorceror whose aid is required against an evil tyrant.