Ahriman : Fortune's Fool

QUICK REVIEW – Ahriman : The First Prince – John French

The fourth story in John French’s The Tale of Ctesias arc is Ahriman : The First Prince, originally released as an excellent audio drama (see review here) and now available in prose form within the Ahriman : Exodus anthology. Following on directly from The Hounds of Wrath it sees Ahriman bargaining for Ctesias’ soul with Be’lakor, the first Daemon Prince of Chaos, while Ctesias lies on the verge of death. Ctesias bartered his soul long ago in his quest for power, but Ahriman is prepared to go to unusual lengths to save his brother.

For all the others’ quality, this is comfortably the best of the five stories in this arc, and works just as well in prose as in audio format. It’s powerful, evocative and beautifully written, full of intense imagery and clever wordplay as Ahriman and Be’lakor trade barbed, dangerous words. Cleverly structured and delightfully twisty, it perfectly encapsulates Ahriman’s strength of character, from his breathtaking prescience to his utter ruthlessness, all seven through Ctesias’ helpless, resigned eyes. Be’lakor’s dialogue is a joy to read, all honeyed words and barely-retrained malice, but as always it’s Ahriman who comes away the most interesting and engaging character. A delight, whether to read or listen to.

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