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am 23. März 2000
(disclaimer, I read this a few months back, so Mr(s). Price and Tierney, forgive any lapses, mis-recollections, and spelling errors)
I've read Robert Howard stuff for about 20 years and Lovecraft even longer, but the two worlds of fantasy always remained pretty separate for me until Scroll of Thoth. Tierney does a credible and consistant job of binding in Conan style adventure and Cthulhu cosmic forces together, via an interleaving glue of Gnostic concepts that force the reexaminiation of your basic assumptions from different viewpoints. This book is a must have for anyone who likes the mythos.
Simon is a sympathetic hero, with women problems, some interesting approaches to magic, and a posse of teachers and acolytes (Love the idea of the Gnostic "guru" being a Deep One). Lots of interesting things happening at the cusp of the BC/AD world and Teirney is historian enough to cherry pick some good context for Simon's adventures. Lots of walk-ons from a multitude of familiar types of Lovecraft gods and demons with some asides that make sense (Shude'Mell and the worms of Dune long distance cousins? (why not? and the more I chew on the idea, the better it tastes). Tierney has a soft spot for the traditional villians of mythos fantasy (Snake People, Deep Ones,...) and resists the urge to make 1-D bad guys out of monsters that just want (the snack of an occasional virgen aside) to live and let live.
Read the stories in order! I didn't the first time, the stories were all good in of themselves, but when I put it away for a couple weeks and reread it over a long plane ride, the continuety of Simon's life and reference to previous sequence of adventures, made the whole more than sum of the short story parts.
Robert Price does better than his usual fine job of providing background and context (you will know more about Gnostic concepts and mythology when you finish the preludes than you will probably ever need in this lifetime) and framing of individual stories.
Anyway, the long and short of it is I liked the book. I doesn't drag, it kept me consistantly interested (more than can be said at times of some other of the Chaosium collections) and I would recommend it both to my kids and to my brother for a few hours of escapism with enough meat that you are thinking about it after its back on the bookshelf.
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