Ray's Reviews > Swords Against Darkness

Swords Against Darkness by Andrew J. Offutt
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This is a very good, classic collection of Sword & Sorcery fiction, with a few notable hiccups. The stories included are as follows, each with a short, informal introduction by the editor, Andrew Offutt.

Guide to ratings: * run away!, ** barely readable, *** decent but forgettable, **** recommended, ***** top notch.

Nekht Semerkeht - Robert E. Howard & Andrew Offutt ** I barely remember this story. It was a chore to read and I would highly recommend skipping it, or at least leaving it until the end. Read all the others first. Here is Offut's description: "Robert E. Howard provides weird surprises in a tale of a Spanish opportunist, a “lost” Aztec city, and a centuries-old mage — in what may be the last story REH ever wrote." That sounds more exciting than the story warrants.

The Tale of Hauk - Poul Anderson ***** This was my favorite tale and is fine demonstration of Anderson's Nordic Fantasy chops. Returning home from reaving Hauk must put an evil spirit to rest.

The Smile of Oisia - Geo. W. Proctor *** This was a messy, but fairly well written story in which, "The goddess of Chance gambles with a barbarian swordsman — for his life." The style reminded me of Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar stories, but that makes sense as this is a sword & sorcery collection.

Pride of the Fleet - Bruce Jones ** A stylish and "saucy" short about a woman proving herself in the jungles around Colony Six.

Straggler from Atlantis - Manley Wade Wellman **** A great little tale! Offutt teases it well with, "The last survivor of Atlantis is called upon to do battle against a human-eating creature only he can brave — to save a race of giants." I might also mention that the protagonist is a something like a "bard" in D&D terminology, which is interesting.

The Ring of Set - Richard L. Tierney *** A wizard/rogue is chasing down a magic ring in the Roman Empire. Unfortunately he finds it in an auction where it is purchases by Tiberius himself! Ring of Set is a well written - if a little predictable - tale of high action and sorcery.

Largarut's Bane - Raul Carcia Capella *** - A straightforward, somewhat charming tale of a fisherman who goes to great lengths to rid his daughter of a haunting demon.

Dragon's Teeth - Dave Drake *** A promising story set in the Roman Empire with an abrupt/weak ending. A soldier and a merchant ride into the frontier to investigate the source of a plague of giants. The "accommodating" wizard who raises the giants gives them a demonstration.

The Sustenance of Hoak - Ramsey Campbell **** A very cool story about two rogues ... well really just one as the other is severely wounded at the start of the tale ... who seek out a treasure within the 'lost' town of Hoak. Some seriously creepy and weird fantasy ensues. The description of action at times is a bit confusing but the story is well worth muddling through.
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Reading Progress

July 3, 2019 – Started Reading
July 3, 2019 – Shelved
July 3, 2019 –
page 170
November 28, 2019 –
page 190
November 29, 2019 –
November 30, 2019 – Finished Reading
January 2, 2021 – Shelved as: fantasy

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