Age of Conan: Belit – Tini Howard, Kate Niemczyk, Scott Hanna, Andrea Di Vito & Jason Keith (Marvel)

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Belit, born to be a pirate Queen and the scourge of the Black Coast, taught Conan how to be a freebooter and to travel the seas in search of riches and infamy and, before returning from the grave to save her lover from the clutches of the very creature that dispatched her, became a legend by her own hand. A fierce warrior, skilled tactician and beloved leader, Belit was as proud, passionate and deadly as she was cunning, intelligent and avaricious and while her fame spread throughout the globe thanks in no small part to her “alliance” with Conan, by the time they met, she was already feared  both far and wide.  Every story has a beginning, and in Age of Conan: Belit the story of the pirate Queen’s ascendancy and rise to power is finally laid bare, and is every bit as incredible as the adventures of her slightly more well-known barbarian ally.

Forced by a lifetime of violence and plunder to take the life of her father, a former Pirate Admiral, Belit’s story is about fulfilling the destiny that she knows to be hers. Compelled to prove her worth in a world dominated by the male of the species with a blade, impetuous self-belief and a rare, sharp intellect, Belit’s path to the upper echelons of piracy is beset by sea monsters, treachery, the blackest of sorcery and dark magics, foul snake cults and priests and all of the hardships that the seas can hurl at her. But thanks to hidden guardians, unlikely friends, hard fought and well won battles and her uncommon charisma, she flourishes in a profession that makes grand sport of the weak and unworthy and eventually becomes the woman who would go on to command the future King of Aquilonia.

Tini Howard weaves a story that her namesake and Belit’s creator, Robert E. Howard would be proud of. Unflinching and at times, surprisingly brutal, Belit asks for no quarter and ploughs it’s furiously enjoyable course through the early years of its protagonist at a break neck pace and is brought to frenetic  life by the superbly detailed art Niemczyk, Hann, Keith and Di Vito. Every legend starts somewhere, so set sail on the Tigress and let Belit tell you of the days of high adventure. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me… Tim Cundle

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