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G. W. Thomas Presents
THE KINGS OF THE NIGHT
 
 
 

A READER'S GUIDE TO SWORD & SORCERY

J




John Jakes (1932 - )

John Jakes has gained his reputation in the mainstream markets with his Kent Family Chronicles and in mystery circles with his character Johnny Havoc. Before the Civil War soaps, Jakes wrote Robert E. Howard pastiches for Fantastic, about a blond-haired Conan-type named Brak. Though not everybody’s cup of tea, the adventures of Brak make for light action-adventure reading, as the barbarian in the lion-skin girdle seeks the far-off and enchanting land of  Kurdistan. Brak is fun, if not deep. In the “Prefatory Note” in Brak the Barbarian Versus the The Mark of the Demons, Jakes claims he has finished the final Brak tale in case he dies unexpectedly. A future volume seems likely.

The Brak the Barbarian Series
1. Brak the Barbarian (1968)–illustrated by Thomas O. Miller
2. Brak the Barbarian Versus The Mark of the Demons (1969)
3. Brak the Barbarian Versus the Sorceress (1977)
4. Brak: When the Idols Walked (1978)
5. The Fortunes of Brak (1980)–illustrated by Douglas Beekman
 

Robert Jordan (1948 - )

Robert Jordan began as a Conan pasticher before moving on to his own excellent brand of fantasy (not S&S unfortunately). Of the many pastiches, his seven rank amongst the best. Jordon was wisely chosen to write the movie adaptation for the second Conan film. All of Jordan’s Conan novels were recently compiled in The Conan Chronicles.

The Conan Series
1. Conan the Defender (1982)
2. Conan the Invincible (1982)
3. Conan the Triumphant (1983)
4. Conan the Unconquered (1983)
5. Conan the Destroyer (1984)–movie novelization
6. Conan the Magnificent (1984)
7. Conan the Victorious (1984)
8. Conan Chronicles (1995)
 
 

K

Richard Kirk–Pseudonym of Robert Holdstock (1948 - ) and Angus Wells (1943 - )

Robert Holdstock has risen to award-winning status in the sf community but in the 1970’s wrote the Raven series along with Wells. The two authors co-wrote the first volume, then alternated titles there after. What  appears to be yet another numbered series manages to discuss themes not normally found in light S&S (perhaps taking a hand from Moorcock). Raven is a well-written series that deserved to be reprinted.

The Raven Series
1. Raven 1: Swordsmistress of Chaos (1978)–written by Holdstock/Wells
2. Raven 2: A Time of Ghosts (1978)–written by Holdstock
3. Raven 3: The Frozen God (1978)–written by Wells
4. Raven 4: Lord of the Shadows (1979)–written by Holdstock
5. Raven 5: A Time of Dying  (1979)–written by Wells
 

Henry Kuttner (1915 - 1958)

Henry Kuttner is best remembered as the sf pseudonym, Lewis Padgett (quite often with his wife C. L. Moore) with classics like “Mimsey Were the Borogoves”. Before sf fame, and and during the days of early space opera, Kuttner also wrote for Weird Tales. Along with Lovecraftian masterpieces like “The Graveyard Rats” were the stories of Elak of Atlantis (1938-1941) and Prince Raynor of Sardopolis (1939). These excellent pastiches have been eclipsed by Kuttner’s  more original work. Like Clifford Ball, Kuttner was one of the very first disciples of Conan but instead of obscurity, Kuttner’s S&S stories have been collected in a small run volume called Elak of Atlantis. Lin Carter also reprinted several of these stories in his many anthologies.

The Elak of Atlantis Series
1. Elak of Atlantis (1985)
 
 

L

Gene Lancour–Pseudonym of Gene Louis Fisher (1947- )

History student Gene Lancour produced an obscure series of hardcovers for Doubleday in the 1970’s about the Barbarian-King, Dirshan. Lancour’s style is exciting but controlled, similar to L. Sprague deCamp. The four volumes are filled with pseudo-history and adventure.

The Dirshan Series
1. The Lerios Mecca (1973)
2. The War Machines of Kalinth (1977)
3. Sword for the Empire (1978)
4. The Man-Eaters of Cascalon (1979)
 

Tanith Lee (1947 - )

Tanith Lee has written plenty of fantasy series for adults and teens, winning her the World Fantasy Award and the British Fantasy Award. Of all her work only one controversial entry qualifies as true S&S. The Birthgrave novels are standard S&S until the final act in which the characters enter a spaceship and leave their fantasy world. This last twist has led some fans to call this trilogy sf, but this ignores the fact that the other 99% of the story is excellent S&S. Like Moore and Russ, Lee has the talent to portray female characters without relying on stereotypes. The Birthgrave trilogy was one of her earliest works, and instantly won her the attention she deserves.

The Birthgrave Series
1. The Birthgrave (1975)
2. Vazkor, Son of Vazkor (1978)
3. Shadowfire (1978)
4. Quest For the White Witch (1978)
 

Fritz Leiber Jr. (1910 -1992)

Fritz Leiber Jr. is the Shakespeare of S&S. His two famous swordsmen (and a little bit of sorcerer too)—Fafhrd, a tall, red-haired barbarian from the Cold Wastes, and the Grey Mouser, a slender grey-clad thief—have given the genre many of the funniest, scariest and most meaningful episodes. Originally created by Harry Otto Fischer in the story “The Lords of Quarmall” in the 1930s, their saga is made up of six stories collections and one novel, The Swords of Lankhmar. Fritz Leiber is the only writer to have won a Hugo and Nebula Award for an S&S story, with “Ill Met in Lankhmar”. He is also a World Fantasy Award Lifetime Achievement winner, and a Nebula Grand Master.  Truly, a class act!

The Newhon Series
1. Swords in the Mist (1968)
2. Swords Against Wizardry (1968)
3. The Swords of Lankhmar (1968)
4. Swords and Deviltry (1970)–Hugo and Nebula 1970
5. Swords Against Death (1970)
6. Swords and Ice Magic (1978)
7. The Knave and Knight of Swords (1988)
8. The Three of Swords (1989)–omnibus
9. Swords’ Masters (1990)–omnibus
 

Brian Lumley (1937 - )

Perhaps best known for his Necroscope books or his early Lovecraftian fiction, Brian Lumley has created one of the few S&S series to operate adjacent to the Cthulhu Mythos without becoming merely a pastiche of H. P. Lovecraft. The Primal Lands stories are set in man’s earliest period, when sorcery and the Great Old Ones held greater sway.  Dark and brooding, the atmosphere can only be compared to Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane stories for malignity. These stories are early works and do not always reflect Lumley’s mature talent, but contain humorous Mythos in-jokes.

The Dreamlands Series
1. Hero of Dreams (1986)
2. Ship of Dreams (1986)
3. Mad Moon of Dreams (1987)
4. Iced on Aran (1990)

The Primal Lands Series
1. The House of Cthulhu (1991)
2. Tarra Khash: Hrossak! (1991)
3. Sorcery in Shad (1991)


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