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The Secret of Sinharat

(Eric John Stark #1 novella)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  160 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Eric John Stark is an adventurer and rebel. Raised on sun-soaked savage Mercury, dwelling in civilization, his calm and dark skin mask a warrior spirit. In murderous Martian Drylands, worst galaxy criminals hatch conspiracy. In forgotten ruins of Martian Low Canals, Stark finds unlikely romance and a potent secret that could shake the Red Planet to its core.
Paperback, 237 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Paizo Inc. (first published January 1st 1964)
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3.91  · 
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 ·  160 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Bill  Kerwin

This planetary romance is also a bit of a western, a bit of a spy novel, and a bit of a detective story. But this shouldn't come as a surprise, for it is written by the woman who gave us the original screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Rio Bravo, and who also collaborated on the screenplay for Hawk's The Big Sleep.

Eric John Stark's flight through the Martian desert is cut short when his mount becomes exhausted and he is overtaken by agents of the Earth Patrol. Commander Simon Ashton know
4.0 to 4.5 stars. This was an extremely fun read and I really liked it. This is classic pulp science fiction in the sword and sorcery mold (actually sword and planet since it takes place on Mars). The main character is Eric John Stark, an Earthman raised on Mercury by a wild tribe of warriors. Just think Conan set in space and you will not be far off, except that Stark is more of a hero than an anti-hero. In this first novel featuring Stark, he is recruited by the colonial space command to infil ...more
Mary Catelli
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stark is on the run from the authorities -- gun-running -- when they catch up to him. One, it turns out, is his foster father Ashton, who tells him of impending war, the trouble it will bring, and the possibility of escaping prison if he can foil it. Stark agrees.

He joins the forces, despite an old enemy there. It involves bells, a well found in a dry land, a great lady and her servant, a warlord who fakes ancient lore to win support, being forced into a sandstorm, a woman who gets revenge befor
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I have been a long time fan of the pulps from the early to mid 19th century. Sci/fi, fantasy, crime/noir, horror-you know, all those "genres" that literary types pull their chin up so they can look down their nose when discussing. Strange Stories, Amazing Stories, Planet Stories, Black Mask, Dime Detective, Weird Tales. Asimov, Lovecraft, Burroughs, Howard, Zelazny, Le Guin, Chandler, Bradbury, Leiber, Sturgeon. The list of authors is long and IMO distinguished.

Leigh Brackett is also a member o
Bryan Schmidt
Jun 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It is hard to imagine a more enjoyable read than this classic combination of two pulp chronicles by the master Leigh Brackett. Probably best known for her last work, the early draft of the screenplay that became "The Empire Strikes Back," Brackett is regarded as a master by most in the scifi field. Being woefully unread in the early scifi eras, I felt it was time I did some reading and I am so glad I did. In fact, the CL Moore and Robert E. Howard books I have in my queue will likely get moved u ...more
Sep 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Leigh Brackett's Eric John Stark is of the same order as Burroughs' John Carter of Mars.

The original stories were published in the late fortie before we knew much about the planets of our system.

Stark, an Earthman born on Mercury, his parents worked for a mining company, raised for a while by aboriginal natives in the band between the eternal day side and the equally eternal night side of Mercury, then rescued by an Earthman.

He lives on Mars and is a warrior born.

The two short novels in this vol
Sep 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Like many of her pulp colleagues, Brackett sought to squeeze some extra bucks out of old stories by expanding them into novel length for book publication. In the process, a lot of good short fiction was spoiled: in very few instances (Chandler, definitely; Van Vogt, maybe) was the material improved by reworking.

In the early 1960s Leigh Brackett decided to novelize two of her best contributions to Planet Stories, and so "Queen of the Martian Catacombs" (1949) became The Secret of Sinharat, and "B
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, sci-fi
Pulp sci-fi. It reminds me a bit of Burroughs's Mars books, and not just because it's on Mars. There is a wildness to the planet. From the first chapter, I thought it was going to be similar to noir detective or even western bounty hunter. But it ended up reminding me mostly of Conan - but on Mars instead Cimmeria.
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Leigh Brackett is unbelievable: her imagination is vast and febrile yet her prose is nails. Another Eric John Stark novella that basically has it all: low fantasy that is epic in scope yet utterly personal; high planetary romance coupled to what reads like a transplanted Western. I cannot get enough of this stuff, it’s fantastic!
Joel Flank
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Secret of Sinharat by Leigh Brackett is in Paizo's Planet Stories line of books. This line brings classic fantasy and science fiction that has long been out of print back for the modern audience. I have to admit, while I'm an avid sci-fi and fantasy reader, I don't have a strong background with the classics from the 50s and before. I've read Conan and lots of other Robert E. Howard works, but not much else from that era. Because of that, I'm a huge fan of the Planet Stories line, since I can ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brackett is the queen of pulp SF; this story is a great example, extended from a 1949 novella into a short novel. Eric John Stark finds himself trapped on the Martian desert, his mount dying of thirst, men of the Earth Police Control hot on his heels. Led by Stark’s foster-father, Ashton Simon, the police are on to Stark’s purpose on Mars: they know he was hired by a revolutionary to train an army of drylander barbarians and low-canallers, they’re aware of the coming revolt against the Martian c ...more
Carolyn F.
I'm one of those people who reads the prologue, the dedications, the epilogue, the publisher's comments, the blurb about the author. This one about Leigh Brackett was fascinating. She wrote the screenplay for The Big Sleep and Rio Bravo among others and a week before she died had turned in the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back, although it was later edited, of course.

The Secret of Sinharat: This book is about Stark who in order to not go to jail while on Mars agrees to find out what all th
Riju Ganguly
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
These two novellas that have been compiled into a single volume by the very considerate people at Planet Books, represent the very best of pulp era writings. Leigh Brackett, was one of the greatest story-tellers to have graced English literature, and as she breathes life into the burnt out landscape of Mars, and its disparate people (esp. her hero, Eric John Stark), you simply forget that this is a story taking place at a frankly unbelievable place, with dollops of imagination replacing science ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Read the eponymous novella: good.
And the next: good.

I'm going out on a limb and giving this a full five on rating and recommending it completely to all fans of planetary romance and sword and sorcery. Brackett is a great storyteller and a good writer. She doesn't make that fantasy mistake of trying to do too much with her writing. She does not use florid prose to convey the fantastic, nor resort to the deus ex machina. She also avoids the Lovecraftian hoo-ha that gets a bit tiresome in Kuttner a
Shannon Appelcline
The Secret of Sinharat. I was somewhat surprised by how much I liked this story. It takes the planet and sword genre of Burroughs and gives it much more depth. The characters are much more nuanced, and the tragedy that stalks them indeed makes the story deserving of the label of noir. Also, the writing is top-notch. Overall, an superior example of the Planetary Romance genre -- something that I didn't know existed! [7/10].
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Excellent pulp; Eric John Stark is a ham fisted hero running around fantasy mars being better at violence than just everyone else aided and confounded by a well wrought supporting cast. Personally, I've been put off in the past by Science Fiction this soft (basically Science-Fantasy) but Leigh Brackett is a good enough author to make it work. If you like Pulp, if you enjoyed Empire Strike Back it's worth checking out.
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Leigh Brackett wrote the first draft of Empire Strikes Back. She was also included in Appendix N (aka, recommended by Gary Gygax). And I'm a big fan of the John Carter of Mars tales. These two stories were fast-paced and tightly written. Eric John Stark is a great character, a mixture of clever rogue and feral savage. I'll definitely be following up with more of his adventures.
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: vintage-sf, women-sf
Classic adventure pulp, with a flavor of H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars stories. Especially like the 2nd novella in the book - "People of the Talisman" - that one gets 4 stars from me.
Dec 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
By-the-numbers sword and sorcery (I sometimes suspect there's no other kind) but on Mars. There are occasional glints of cleverness in the setting, but story- and character-wise Brackett prefers telling to showing and seems bizarrely eager to play by the rules.
The Secret Of Sinharat (Planet Stories Library) by Leigh Brackett (2007)
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a fun and very likeable "sword and planet" adventure of the John Carter type. I'm hooked and will definitely be reading the rest of the Eric John Stark books.
Mar 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Cute little story.
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Nigel Williamson
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Anas Temmar
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Aug 25, 2017
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Leigh Brackett was born on December 7, 1915 in Los Angeles, and raised near Santa Monica. Having spent her youth as an athletic tom-boy - playing volleyball and reading stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H Rider Haggard - she began writing fantastic adventures of her own. Several of these early efforts were read by Henry Kuttner, who critiqued her stories and introduced her to the SF personalitie ...more

Other books in the series

Eric John Stark (7 books)
  • People of the Talisman
  • Eric John Stark: Outlaw of Mars
  • The Ginger Star (The Book of Skaith, #1)
  • The Hounds of Skaith (The Book of Skaith, #2)
  • The Reavers of Skaith  (The Book of Skaith, #3)
  • Stark and the Star Kings