by ken

Mighty Swordsmen…and Guest

The Mighty Swordsmen comes close to delivering precisely as advertised, and even its single lapse is excellent. I admit to a lack of familiarity with the editor, Hans Stefan Santesson. He provided a short introduction, rambling about sorcery and what we’d probably now refer to as “deep time.” It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the stories inside, unless you want to find some reason to believe the events related might actually have happened. Nonetheless, Mr. Santesson shows a good eye for material.

Anthologies: The Spell of Seven

Another volume curated by L. Sprague de Camp, The Spell of Seven offers a stellar lineup of talent. Each of the seven tales features a Virgil Finlay illustration. How about that for lagniappe? Now, I’m guessing the cover looked  better as a pencil and ink drawing. Colored, it looks more like the cover to an EC horror comic than the cover to paperback short story anthology. But that’s grousing and doesn’t in the least detract from the yarns behind the cover.

A Weekend at the Cabin Means a Snippet Day.

I spent the weekend at a forested cabin on a riverbank. A cabin weekend means relaxation. I did get some work done on the third Karl Throson novel, but otherwise the time was dedicated to playing board and card games, reading, strolling about a bit, and relaxing. That means the Sunday afternoon at home is full of chores, limiting time to write a post. So, instead, here are some pictures and a bonus snippet from my hybrid Sword-and-Sorcery/crime novel Thick As Thieves. Enjoy.

Anthologies: Warlocks and Warriors, Emphasis on the Warlocks.

This one is a gem. And take a look at that cover. Interestingly, it promises cover-to-cover hand-to-hand combat, but while there is plenty of sword-swinging in this Sword-and-Sorcery anthology, the emphasis is on the sorcery. Perhaps that theme is hinted at in the title Warlocks and Warriors, giving precedence to the Warlocks. The supernatural takes center stage in this collection, from sorcerers, to the undead, from demi-gods to druids.

The Dresden Files: Sword-and-Sorcery?

I had intended to write another post on anthologies. However, I was about three and a half stories through a collection when Peace Talks arrived. So much for that plan. I’m about halfway through the latest of Harry Dresden’s series of unfortunate events. Once I’m done, I’ll get back to revisiting Fafhrd and Gray Mouser’s shenanigans.

Reading Peace Talks, however, raised in my mind the question of whether or not the Dresden Files are sword-and-sorcery. Superficially, why not? The main character is a wizard. One of his buddies is a sort of holy warrior, often armored up and swinging a sword. So we’ve got both swords and sorcery right there. I recently wrote a post in which I enumerated what I thought were the essential components of sword-and-sorcery fiction. Why not run through those with an eye to Jim Butcher’s tales of Harry Dresden and a Chicago infested with the supernatural.

The Family Road Trip

Last Monday, I packed up MBW and the HA for a road trip. I pointed the vehicle east and we headed for Yellowstone. We decided to take the journey in two stages. I’ve done eighteen and twenty hour stretches, and we could have made the trip in, perhaps, fourteen hours. But I doubted the HA would tolerate it well. So we stopped Monday night at a hotel on the Oregon/Idaho border. The HA played in the pool. Next day, bright and early, we trekked on, reaching West Yellowstone in the afternoon.

Flashing Swords #3. Pack Your Bags.

I have a number of well-worn anthologies on my shelves. It has been said that shorter fiction is the proper length for Swords-and-Sorcery. Maybe so. At least in an anthology the reader has access to multiple imagined worlds in a single volume instead of the single world of a novel. I thought I’d investigate this somewhat, revisiting these collections. And what better volume to start with than Flashing Swords #3?

The Quintessence of S&S

If I were to distill the elements of Swords-and-Sorcery to their essence, what story would I find pooled at the bottom of the alembic?

To answer such a question, I’d first have to gather the elements. It requires a confident man or an arrogant fool to think he knows what those elements are. Let’s take a collective leap and pretend I’m not a fool. Moving forward, let’s see if we can glean the fundamental components of S&S.