Sword & Sorcery: "An earthier sort of fantasy" discussion

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Group Reads > 2013 1-2 Anthologies

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message 1: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
All, I copy/paste the announcement here:

Thematic Group Read-1 = Anthologies
Our first Poll results are tabulated and "Read any Sword & Sorcery Anthology" won.

I will keep track of the write-in comments and use them as items in the next poll. The membership of this group greater than doubled during the polling period! So for all the newcomers, please note we are just piloting the Group-Reads here and we welcome your input.

Where?: Please post the Anthology you choose to let others know in the Group Read Folder...then come back to discuss!

Note the discussion thread on the same topic: S&S Anthology Discussion

When?: Jan-Feb 2013, ostensibly. Might as well start now. We will target polling for another theme in Feb. for the next topic (for Mar-April).

What? Have no idea what to read? Browse the Group Anthology Bookshelf


message 2: by S.E., Gray Mouser (last edited Dec 20, 2012 06:40AM) (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
To continue my familiarization of the works of fellow group members, I decided to read either Return of the Sword or Rage of the Behemoth--or perhaps both.
Return of the Sword by Jason M. Waltz . Rage of the Behemoth by Jason M. Waltz


message 3: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments I picked Return of the Sword as well. I have read some of it, but not all, and it was already in my " to be read" stack.


message 4: by Sean (last edited Dec 20, 2012 12:57PM) (new)

Sean (capthowdy) | 75 comments Haha. Yes Rage of the Behemoth is one of my first choices. But I think I am going to go with Sages & Swords: Heroic Fantasy Anthology then! (I need to be unique!)

Sages & Swords Heroic Fantasy Anthology by Daniel E. Blackston

And I've already read Return of the Sword. It was good stuff!


message 5: by Periklis, Fafhrd (new)

Periklis (periklisbegzos) | 427 comments Mod
Unless I find an affordable copy of Return of the Sword, I'll choose something between Thieves' World #1 and Heroic Fantasy, or continue with the next SAD volume, Swords Against Darkness IV.


message 6: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
S.E. wrote: "To continue my familiarization of the works of fellow group members, I decided to read either Return of the Sword or Rage of the Behemoth--or perhaps both.
Return of the Sword by Jason M. Waltz.[..."


Okay...I just purchased both of these. Will be ready to discuss in a few weeks.


message 7: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1125 comments Mod
I've just started Swords against Tomorrow, but the first story (Demon Journey by Poul Anderson) is a gem. I also have high hopes for the stories by Leigh Brackett and Fritz Leiber. The Lin Carter and John Jakes stories, not so much, although I expect to find them entertaining.


message 8: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
Joseph wrote: "I've just started Swords against Tomorrow, but the first story (Demon Journey by Poul Anderson) is a gem. ..."

Joseph, what about "Demon Journey" appealed to you? (Haven't read it myself yet, though I did like Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword)


message 9: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1125 comments Mod
S.E. wrote: "Joseph, what about "Demon Journey" appealed to you? (Haven't read it myself yet, though I did like Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword)"

It's a relatively old and obscure story -- first published in 1951, apparently under a pseudonym. If I just summarize it -- Corun the pirate has been captured and is sent with a wizard and the wizard's granddaughter on a voyage to the island of the Xanthi, evil reptile men; complications ensue -- it sounds pretty generic. But Anderson does an excellent job of sketching the world and characters in relatively few words, the story is fast-paced and action-packed, and the language is up to his usual high standards.


message 10: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments I don't have Swords Against Tomorrow, but it sounds like I need to track it down.


message 11: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1125 comments Mod
OK, all done with Swords Against Tomorrow, which is worth seeking out just for the Poul Anderson story (unless it's been reprinted elsewhere?) -- apparently it was originally published in Planet Stories under a pseudonym.

As for the rest of the anthology: The Leiber story was Bazaar of the Bizarre, which was pleasant enough -- it mostly reminded me that I haven't read the full Lankhmar series in many years. The Carter and Jakes stories I don't have much to say about -- they both kind of got the job done. The Brackett piece, Citadel of Lost Ships, was the other highlight of the book, but it definitely wasn't sword & sorcery -- it was Leigh Brackett planetary romance, so it read more like Chandler or Hammett than like Edgar Rice Burroughs. I really, really need to read the Haffner Press Bracket collections one of these days.


message 12: by Jason (new)

Jason | 113 comments I'm leaning toward one of these two: Heroic Fantasy or Swords Against Darkness. I may have to flip a coin.


message 13: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1125 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "I'm leaning toward one of these two: Heroic Fantasy or Swords Against Darkness. I may have to flip a coin."

Both great choices!


message 14: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
Can any member here tell me more about Emery or his work?
Reading anthologies has led me to become a fan of Phil Emery...I think. I first learned of him via the Demons: A Clash of Steel Anthology, in which his "Fifteen Breaths" appealed to me; it had a poetic, dreamy-weird style to it.

Crossed his work again in Return of the Sword (reading it for the current Group Read--am ~5 stories in, liking them all) and was completely taken Phil Emery's "The Last Scream of Carnage" (notably the editor's pick). It was again poetic, and pushed the bounds of the genre a bit. The delivery may prove off-putting to many others; I had to read it twice to really absorb it all.

Anthologies are a great way to discover new authors (well, new for the reader anyway). But I am curious to know more about him. Reviews of his work seem sparse. Phil Emery's library does not seem large, either. I noticed that he wrote a book called Necromantra, which I had to order since I am addicted to necromancy-themed stories and needed to read more of Emery's work.


message 15: by Periklis, Fafhrd (new)

Periklis (periklisbegzos) | 427 comments Mod
I've found his author info on Immanion Press. Hope it helps a bit...


message 16: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments Like S.E., I picked "Return of the Sword" for my group read anthology. I have already read many of these stories, but I do not mind revisiting them. I plan to read them in order, as opposed to my usual practice of reading one or two stories at random and then putting the book away for a while. I generally use short stories to pass time between novels.

I started today with Stacey Berg's "Altar of the Moon." This is a good tale, well told, of a woman, a sword with an attitude and a destiny. The story is brief, but hints of an interesting mythology. Those hints are spread out through the course of a taut, straightforward story. Berg avoids getting caught up in the background and just lets those hints tug the reader along.

This is a promising start to the anthology.


message 17: by Periklis, Fafhrd (new)

Periklis (periklisbegzos) | 427 comments Mod
Thanks to Bruce Durham and Jason Waltz I will be reading Return of the Sword too!


message 18: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments Awesome, Periklis! Those guys set you up for some fun reads.


message 19: by Rogue (new)

Rogue Blades (rogueblades) | 28 comments Hey, thank you one and all for the continuous enthusiasm for the RBE titles RotS and RotB! It's very heartwarming, let me say. I look forward to hearing what everyone's saying after reading them :)


message 20: by Rogue (new)

Rogue Blades (rogueblades) | 28 comments S.E. wrote: "Can any member here tell me more about Emery or his work?
Reading anthologies has led me to become a fan of Phil Emery...I think. I first learned of him via the Demons: A Clash of Steel Anthology,..."


I - if I can say so myself - absolutely enjoy Phil's short fiction. His "The Last Scream of Carnage" is the epitome of modern short S&S for me (lacking only a continuing character), capable of even rivaling that of Howard and Wagner, and I've implored him to continue writing of the Carnage Lords.

Phil enjoys examining S&S and exploring further ways to write it. As stated, he is present in 2 of the 3 RBE anthologies, the story he submitted for RotB just not meeting what I was looking for in that title.

I have not read his Necromantra, but I did special order his THE SHADOW CYCLES http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13... ... which I have mixed reaction to. I did not enjoy it like his short fiction, yet I've retained the book in my library because of his examination of S&S in the appendix. It roused my interest from the onset, and it is an obvious attempt to push the 'boundaries' that ultimately didn't work for me, even left a somewhat dissatisfied taste at the close. I'd be quite interested in others' thoughts on the book.


message 21: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
Rogue Blades wrote: "...I have not read his Necromantra, but I did special order..."

Cool, I had hopes Rogues Blades would chime in--thanks for that perspective. Did the story Emery submitted to Rage of the Behemoth go somewhere else to your knowledge? Glad to hear you plug for more Carnage Lords.

I will reconnect after I had a chance to read Necromantra.


message 22: by Joseph, Master Ultan (new)

Joseph | 1125 comments Mod
S.E. wrote: " Did the story Emery submitted to Rage of the Behemoth go somewhere else to your knowledge?

Jason -- Speaking of Rage of the Behemoth, any chance of an eBook release at some point?


message 23: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments Today I read the second story in Return of the Sword. This one is "The Wyrd of War," by Bill Ward. The tale follows one man through a hopeless battle featuring some strange enemies. It is mostly a long battle scene, starting out in a somewhat Tolkien-esque direction but quickly moving beyond that to embrace its own kind of weirdness.

The battle description is vivid, gloomy and very well done. The creatures are delightfully strange. The protagonist's thoughts as he moves toward his fate ring true. The story moves toward a few possible endings, keeping the reader guessing, and i decline to spoil that for anyone.


message 24: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "Today I read the second story in Return of the Sword. This one is "The Wyrd of War," by Bill Ward... The creatures are delightfully strange..."

Steve, I echo your sentiments regarding the creatures. They were refreshingly unique. Vivid battles are good: good battles with bizarre abominations rock.


message 25: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments Just completed "The Last Scream of Carnage" by Philip Emery. Sword-and-sorcery on the horror end of the scale. I liked the poetic language -- the story is really a blend of prose and poetry -- but I confess a lack of patience for the typographical maneuvers of odd spacings, fragments, etc. I am not convinced the prose needed such help; for the most part Emery has an obvious ear for language and I think it would have rung true without flowing words all over the page. On the other hand, perhaps I am just horribly old-fashioned.

As a story, at times this tale reminded me of Ramsey Campbell's stories of Ryre -- horror stories in a sword-and - sorcery vein. Not that Emery's character is anything like Ryre, but there are similarities in tone and setting. (The Ryre stories are in the "Swords Against Darkness" anthologies, if anyone is interested, and they are very good.

Emery's story made me want to revisit Ryre. I definitely would read some more Emery, too.


message 26: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments S.E. ... Good, original beasties are worth the price of admission, and very difficult to pull off. it is tough, in some respects, for a writer to compete with movies when it comes to describing a creature. CGI can show you the whole bloody thing in a few seconds and storytelling can quickly resume, whereas a writer must expend time and verbiage to give a similar level of detail. Sometimes, that really slows a story down. I thought Ward handled the critters deftly in his story.


message 27: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "...Ramsey Campbell's stories of Ryre -- horror ..."

Nice lead on the Ryre tales. I did some browsing and Necronomincon Press has all the Ryre tales plus more for ~$7 (not available via Amazon or Abebooks).


message 28: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments S.E. Very cool. I am sure you will enjoy them!


message 29: by Jason (new)

Jason | 113 comments S.E. wrote: "Steve wrote: "...Ramsey Campbell's stories of Ryre -- horror ..."

Nice lead on the Ryre tales. I did some browsing and Necronomincon Press has all the Ryre tales plus more for ~$7 (not available ..."


SE, let me know if Necronomicon Press comes through for you. Last time I looked, and I was seeking the same collection you mention, I couldn't tell if they were still in business or if it was just a ghost-site. I emailed the company twice to ask, but never received a response, so assumed that they were, in fact, no longer in business.


message 30: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "...I couldn't tell if they were still in business or if it was just a ghost-site..."

Cripes. I will definitely reconnect on Necropress's response. Thanks for the heads-up.


message 31: by Periklis, Fafhrd (last edited Dec 29, 2012 06:13PM) (new)

Periklis (periklisbegzos) | 427 comments Mod
S.E. wrote: "Jason wrote: "...I couldn't tell if they were still in business or if it was just a ghost-site..."

Cripes. I will definitely reconnect on Necropress's response. Thanks for the heads-up."


I ordered a copy of the book directly from them (paid through Paypal) and got the book whithin the usual timeframe (10 days for international shipping). Didn't try contacting them first.
Try ordering through Paypal (if they still have that option available) and worst case senario, if you haven't received the book after 40 days, start a dispute (through Paypal) and they will return your money.

P.S. the Ryre tales are terrific, here are the full contents of the collection.


message 32: by S.E., Gray Mouser (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
Periklis wrote: "S.E. wrote: "Jason wrote: "...I couldn't tell if they were still in business or if it was just a ghost-site..."

Glad to hear it worked for Periklis. I received an email reply that seemed to indicate the order was fine (used Paypal). Seems like they have gone in and out of activity but are trying to get rid of existing stock.

Necropress printed one of my favorite books of all time (all of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique stories)... and the lack-luster R.E. Howard tribute Ghor, Kin Slayer: The Saga Of Genseric's Fifth Born Son--which has historical interest. Shame to hear their business has suffered.


message 33: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments I also ordered the Campbell book from the same source yesterday, used PayPal and got a confirmation email. Looks like all systems are go.


message 34: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments On "Return of the Sword," I finished reading Jeff Draper's "The Battle of Raven Kill." It is the tale of one man's stand against the many while his people flee. The prose is straightforward, the plot does not mess around. It is the least magical of the stories in the antho to this point (I am reading in order). I did like the fact that the protagonist was not truly alone as he held the bridge, as he leaned on his faith in a way that seemed true-to-life.

Another enjoyable read.


message 35: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments More "Return of the Sword" ... I really liked "What Heroes Leave Behind," by Nicholas Ian Hawkins. It changes gears from the previous two stories in a way that demonstrates the genre's range. Although it does feature swordplay and fangs, etc., it is a very human tale that I think a lot of readers might relate to on one level or another.


message 36: by S.E., Gray Mouser (last edited Jan 02, 2013 06:47AM) (new)

S.E. Lindberg (selindberg) | 1989 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "More "Return of the Sword" ... I really liked "What Heroes Leave Behind," by Nicholas Ian Hawkins. It changes gears from the previous two stories in a way that demonstrates the genre's range. Altho..."

Wow,Return of the Sword is full of great stories with wondrous variety. I wanted to discover more contemporary S&S authors/styles and am well satisfied. Some of my personal favorites I marked to re-read are:

Wyrd of War (Bill Ward)
The Last Scream of Carnage (Phil Emery)
To Be A Man (Robert Rhodes)
The Hand that Holds the Crown (Nathan Meyer)
The Red Worm's Way (James Enge)
The Mask Oath (Steve Goble)

The Storytelling piece (E.E.Knight) was an entertaining but serious primer--nice addition.

That is not to say the others are not worth mentioning. In fact, I have two more to read yet (plus the Harold Lamb bonus)--I had to skip my sequential approach because I was anxious to check out Steve's work. There was some artistic flare with the nameless heroes in The Mask Oath, and some truly gritty battles with demons...and underlying it all some genuine themes re: motivation in life; this really appealed to my horror-fantasy bias. Tell me, Steve, that there are more Faceless Sons works out there. Are there?


message 37: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments First off, S.E., let me say thank you. I really appreciate your words.

As for other Faceless Sons tales, I have one, called "Demons Within and Without," that focuses on the youngest brother. It was sold a few years ago to a magazine called "All Possible Worlds" that went belly-up before my story could appear. (The magazine did publish another story of mine, called "Two Kings in Zalzalla," but it does not feature the Faceless Sons.)

Anyway, I have been seeking a venue for the second Faceless Sons tale, but mostly I see markets that A) have incredibly specific guidelines (We want only stories featuring left-handed dragons fighting cats on a Tuesday type stuff) or B) "We hope to one day pay authors" markets. Since I have a couple of stories "sold" to venues that have gone silent, I kind have been in wait - and- see mode. I am hoping Rogue Blades or another good outlet comes up with an antho where the second Faceless Sons tale might fit nicely. There are a handful of places that publish online-only, but I am hoping for print. I have had a good number of stories in print venues, and it is nice to be able to pull those off the shelves!

And I have a third Faceless Sons story written, but in need of editing, and a fourth in my head.

Again, thanks for he kind words. "The Mask Oath" is a sale I am really proud of, because it is tucked in there with a lot of other good stories from writers I really enjoy, and Jason Waltz is as good as they come as far as editors go.


message 38: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments http://www.electricspec.com/archivesi...

The link above goes to a story of mine called "The First Casualty," that appeared in Electric Spec a while back. I think it may be the only online-only story of mine still on the web. It is not a Faceless Sons story, though. Sorry.


message 39: by Periklis, Fafhrd (new)

Periklis (periklisbegzos) | 427 comments Mod
I just started reading Return of the Sword. It is really encouraging to see editor's Jason M. Waltz enthusiasm and knowledge of the genre in the introduction. It reminded me of Andrew J. Offutt's introductions in the S.A.D. series. I'll probably write about the stories when finished with the book. I'm looking forward to Bill Ward's story, as I loved his The Last of His Kind.

So, how is everyone else's reading progressing?


message 40: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments I have gotten caught up in "Crime and Punishment," but I more than two-thirds of the way through that and will get back to "Return of the Sword" very soon.


message 41: by Jason (new)

Jason | 113 comments Well, I'm 210 pages or so into Swords Against Darkness and enjoying it. The Robert E. Howard offering was good, but I thought the ending was a bit abrupt. The Tale of Hauk by Poul Anderson had fantastic style and mood and the cadence of the prose was very enjoyable. The Smile of Oisia by Geo. W. Proctor was a pleasant surprise as I had never heard of the author but would definitely read more.


message 42: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments "The Tale of Hauk" is a favorite of mine.


message 43: by Jason (new)

Jason | 113 comments Steve wrote: ""The Tale of Hauk" is a favorite of mine."

Steve, I agree it was an excellent read. Have you read Hrolf Kraki's saga by Anderson as well, or any other of his "viking" novel-length work? If so, how does it/they compare to Hauk?


message 44: by Sean (new)

Sean (capthowdy) | 75 comments I'm only 51 pages into Sages & Swords: Heroic Fantasy Anthology (basically three stories in) and it's been slowly getting better with each story. I feel it didn't start out well so hopefully the book builds up as we go along.


message 45: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments I liked that gaga a lot, Jason, but "Hauk" sticks out in my mind more probably because I have read it a few times. I have "The Last Viking" on my shelf, but have not read it yet.


message 46: by Fletcher (new)

Fletcher Vredenburgh | 91 comments I pulled Swords Against Darkness IV out of the anthology stack. I've only read the introduction so far. It opens with an Charles Saunders "Imaro" story and ends with my favorite Manly Wade Wellman "Kardio" story so my expectations are high.


message 47: by Periklis, Fafhrd (new)

Periklis (periklisbegzos) | 427 comments Mod
Fletcher wrote: "I pulled Swords Against Darkness IV out of the anthology stack. I've only read the introduction so far. It opens with an Charles Saunders "Imaro" story and ends with my favorite Manly Wade Wellma..."

Great pick. I will probably follow my Groupread choice of Return of the Sword with Swords Against Darkness IV or Heroic Fantasy, in early February.


message 48: by Steve (new)

Steve Goble | 100 comments Continuing with "Return of the Sword," I just finished Ty Johnston's "Deep in the Land of the Ice and Snow."

This is a story designed primarily to illuminate the character of Belgad, a prominent player in Johnston's novels (which sword-and-sorcery fans ought to read). Even so, "Deep" stands well on its own. We get tight prose, a straight-forward plot, believable action and a sense
of destiny. It is a short read, but a good one.

By way of disclaimer, I should mention I have known Ty for years and consider him one of life's best people.


message 49: by Periklis, Fafhrd (last edited Jan 11, 2013 08:00AM) (new)

Periklis (periklisbegzos) | 427 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "Continuing with "Return of the Sword," I just finished Ty Johnston's "Deep in the Land of the Ice and Snow."

This is a story designed primarily to illuminate the character of Belgad, a prominent ..."


I'm two stories behind, as I'm about to read "What Heroes Leave Behind". So, for anyone who's enjoyed Ty Johnston's story, which book should be next, The Kobalos Trilogy or The Sword of Bayne series?

For anyone interested, there is an offer on Kindle for the first book in each series.


message 50: by Rogue (new)

Rogue Blades (rogueblades) | 28 comments The Kobalos Trilogy+


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