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His Name is Vengeance: Kellory the Warlock by Lin Carter

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

BKTG22855Poor Lin Carter: perhaps the greatest champion heroic fantasy ever had, an editor with few equals, one of the the most knowledgeable fan boys in the world, but a poor writer. I think he would have liked his stories and novels to be remembered more fondly than they are. I believe Kellory the Warlock proves he had the potential to have been a better writer.

Carter remains despised among the Robert E. Howard scholars for his involvement in Sprague de Camp’s Conan projects. As recently as 2008, Morgan Holmes over at the Robert E. Howard United Press Association was giving him grief for his sins against good prose in general and REH in particular.

It’s easy to be rough on Lin Carter’s writing. For my very first review on Swords & Sorcery: A Blog, I really lit into Carter’s debut novel, Thongor and the Wizard of Lemuria. It’s derived entirely from Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs, which should mean good, pulpy fun, but instead it’s awful with no redeeming qualities. The plot isn’t built well enough to merit being called ramshackle, the characters are thin and bloodless because they’re cut out of cardboard, and the writing is lumpy and turgid. Even the cover stinks.

But his bad prose is overshadowed by the importance of his editing. His most prestigious work was the creation of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series (being reviewed one volume at a time here on Black Gate by Keith West). It resurrected many of the forebears of genre fantasy fiction (e.g. James Branch Cabell, H. Rider Hagard) and introduced several new authors to the public (Katherine Kurtz, Joy Chant).

The series also included several books, one being Imaginary Worlds, about the history and evolution of fantasy (though it’s been pointed out by no less a literary figure than Peter Beagle that Carter’s research was poor and his attributions incorrect). Nevertheless, these works represent one of the earliest efforts to provide a critical study of the genre.

oie_17345368LYR1hI2From my perspective as one of the keepers of the flame of old-time S&S here at Black Gate, Carter’s greatest achievement was his popularization of the genre. In the 1960s, he wrote Conan pastiches with Sprague de Camp along with his own Thongor novels, helping set the stage for an explosion of S&S through the early 80s. The 70s brought his Flashing Swords! anthologies of original stories by some of the most important writers in S&S (such as Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock) and the founding of Swordsmen and Sorcerers Guild of America (SAGA), a loose association of genre writers which for several years handed out the Gandalf Award to some of the field’s greatest authors.

He wrote and edited until the decline of his health in the early 80s. Since his death in 1988, his reputation seems to have taken a major hit. Most of his fiction, rarely more than pastiches of his favorite authors (Howard, Burroughs, Lovecraft, and Dent), never garnered enough attention to be republished. The growth of serious REH studies had the effect of magnifying the poor quality of Carter’s Conan stories. Sadly, his non-fiction books were never reprinted either. By now, I doubt most younger fantasy fans know or care about Carter.

No reassessment of Lin Carter’s fantasy will reveal him to be some unfairly forgotten genius. But I do think there might be gems out there. He wrote dozens of books and stories. It would be an annoying job to have to read them all, so I’m thankful to Adrian Cole for getting me started with Young Thongor last year, when he edited together a collection of Carter’s short stories with the character. It got some nice reviews and was cheap so I bought it. It proved surprisingly good. I reviewed it on my site and decided to give Carter another go. In a comment, Charles R. Rutledge suggested Kellory the Warlock (1984) was a good read.

I just finished Kellory Saturday night and, with one major caveat, I recommend it. It’s not an especially original story and the characters are pretty thin, but there are moments of good writing and storytelling throughout. Unlike his Thongor=Conan or Zarkon=Doc Savage characters, Kellory is an original creation. While the book doesn’t feel quite fleshed out at 180 pages, it doesn’t feel rushed, either. The book is a fix-up of mostly unpublished stories from the 70s. It would have benefited from more attention to the transitions between stories, but each individual section reads as if Carter took his time and, for the most part, thought about the words he was writing, something it’s hard to believe when reading much of his fiction.

Kellory the Warlock is one of three books, each set on a different planet of the magical sun Kylix. Kellory is set on the world of Zephrondus. The other novels are The Quest of Kadji and The Wizard of Zao.

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Andre Norton’s Gandalf

Kellory is introduced as the sole survivor of the Black Wolf Tribe, recently destroyed by the vicious Thungoda Horde. In a moment of black humor, the Horde’s ruler allows Kellory to live so he can spread word of their power, but not before mutilating his right hand in the flames consuming his father alive, in order to prevent him from ever picking up a sword against the Thungoda.

Of course, Kellory is determined to destroy the Horde. He seeks to convince the Green Enchanter to make him his pupil. His determination and brazenness do the trick.

When we next meet Kellory, he is robed in black and carries a great staff in his good hand. His face has become harsh and grim. When he confronts a party of Thungoda warriors, his appearance disturbs them.

He loomed like an apparition against the dark flame of the sky. One lone man, unarmed; yet there was something about him that held the Thungoda back. They chittered uneasily amongst themselves, casting half-freightened, half-challenging glances at him from their squinting eyes. Any other man who stood in their path, they would have ridden down, whooping and slashing with curved steel. This man…they did not like to face. It was all very curious. It was even a little frightening.

The book goes on to chronicle Kellory’s adventures as he tries to recover the Book of Shadows. It’s purported to contain a terrible spell used to destroy another barbarian incursion long ago. Accompanied by a princess he rescued from the Thungoda war party, Kellory follows one lead after another, confronting all sorts of monsters and magical barriers. Each of the book’s first six chapters is a self-contained tale of magic and mayhem that leads right up to the following one, moving the warlock one step closer to his vengeance. The final, very short, chapter is an epilogue that brings Kellory’s journey to its conclusion.

While the plot and characters don’t benefit from the book’s brevity, the pacing does. Kellory the Warlock flies by. It never lags and no chapter overstays its welcome. There’s just enough description and world building to give a solid impression of people and their surroundings, but not enough to make you want to skip to the bottom of the page. The action scenes are decently choreographed and I never had to struggle to figure out who was doing what to whom and where. There are a lot of contemporary writers who can’t get those things right.

Carter’s inventiveness could go overboard at times as he tried to check off every item on his fan boy wishlist. His Lovecraftian stories are a perfect example of him failing utterly. In this novel, he’s more restrained and it pays off. He actually creates some atmosphere and dread at places in this book. Kellory describes the previous use of the Book of Shadow’s powers to the princess:

Yaohim worked a mighty feat of magic. No one knows what he did nor what followed upon his calling, but with dawn a sight of horror met the eyes of Prince Amric and his men.

Six thousand corsairs had swilled and sung within the walls of Gorovod with sunset. With dawn, six thousand madmen mewled and tittered in the ravaged walls.

I did mention a caveat. Taking his time and pushing himself to be original only made Carter tell a better story; it didn’t make him a better writer. Time and time again, he messes with syntax in order to create some sort of faux-archaic style that in reality just sounds bad. When Kellory finds Yaohim’s tower it’s described like this:

Strange it was, builded by magic; no hand of man had taken part in its raising. It was all of one piece… The organic curves of the soaring pylon were uncanny: no structure on earth that Kellory had ever seen was so shapen.

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Lin Vrooman Carter at ease

So, be warned. There are plenty of sentences likes those.

He’s also sloppy with naming. One of the characters in the backstory is the prophet Pnomphet. Did he ever read those two words out loud? The guardian spirits he calls on in one battle are named PHOUL LUMNIVUUR, IOGNUGGONG and ZOAR. How does Kellory pronounce all those capitals? I admit, naming’s a pet peeve of mine in fantasy writing. Your mileage may vary, but for every good name, Carter hits you with a poor one. Oh, and in what I can only consider an act of laziness, the land where the various barbarians come from in Kellory the Warlock is called Barbaria.

Carter was no master stylist and it can get a little irritating. Most of the time, he was trying to create fun, quick reads that were recreations of his favorite writers. In a way, he was writing fan fiction; it’s just that he got his published. A side effect of this was that while he worked to mimic the styles of the various people he copied, he never seems to have really developed one of his own.

But as I said at the start, Kellory the Warlock’s not a bad read. It probably couldn’t get published today. The characters are weak and it’s too short. Still, it’s inventive and has a fair amount of excitement. It stands as a bit of a testimony to one of the most important figures in the history of fantasy and as a proof that he had the potential to be a much better writer than he too often was.

35 Comments »

  1. If I were having dinner with the Black Gate crew, I might throw this out: Supposing Ballantine assigned some other person(s) to edit the Adult Fantasy series, who might we have ended up with & what might the series have looked like?

    That opens up the question of who was around who would have read lots of books in the field, and who would have sufficient judgment to balance quality, commercial appeal, etc.

    What I’d like to know is: who was the art director(s) for the series? I assume Carter didn’t go out and round up the artists. But I think a huge element in the enduring popularity of the series has to do with the cover art rather than the contents of some of the books.

    But back to the question of selection editor… Ursula Le Guin? Poul Anderson? Roger Lancelyn Green, author of Tellers of Tales? Fritz Leiber? Some knowledgeable fans such as Dainis Bisenieks?

    C. S. Lewis was dead by the late 1960s, but it is interesting to see how many of the BAF books were in a list of his library made in 1969. As I recall, he had about 2/3 of the books, the major exceptions being the weird-tale books (HPL, CAS, etc.).

    Comment by Major Wootton - March 18, 2014 3:59 pm

  2. Very even-handed review. I think my favorite Carter series is probably World’s End, but only in the sense that I appreciate the kind of setting he was trying to use, regardless of his success or lack thereof.

    I suspect that if he were writing today he’d be all over the Amazon self-publishing scene.

    Comment by Joe H. - March 18, 2014 4:11 pm

  3. @ Major W. – Interesting question. Based on their Fantasy: The 100 Best Books, Moorcock and Cawthorn could have pulled off something equally good.
    @ Joe H. – Thank you. There’s something about Carter’s enthusiasm as a writer I’m coming to enjoy and I’m more willing to let his writing win me over than I was even a few years ago. This was one of three books he put out in 1984. I agree, he’d be killing in the Amazon scene.

    Comment by Fletcher Vredenburgh - March 18, 2014 4:53 pm

  4. Great article! I pretty much agree, though there are some books where Carter’s prose was quite good. He could write, but I think he just preferred to crank them out, without any thought to character development and solid, plot-moving dialogue. World’s End and Green Star were my favorites. I tried but cannot reread him, sadly. I read him at a time when I was young, in the late 60s and early 70s. I do give him credit for being a fine scholar, and for what he did for Ballantine. If you are a Thongor fan, editor Bob Price has written a number of Thongor pastiches.

    Comment by Joe Bonadonna - March 18, 2014 5:05 pm

  5. I agree that Lin Carter was invaluable as an editor/anthologist/populizer. And as a scholar, whatever defects his research might have suffered. I got a lot of mileage out of his “Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings.”

    Comment by Ken Lizzi - March 18, 2014 5:17 pm

  6. Lin Carter — Unexcelled in his combination of sheer, unbridled enthusiasm and factually-dubious scholarship.

    Comment by Joe H. - March 18, 2014 5:30 pm

  7. Joe H: Well said. :) His non-fiction is so fun to read, his enthusiasm infectious — as long as one doesn’t cite him for any particular fact.

    Fletcher: I loved reading this review/criticism/tribute of sorts! Lin Carter is one of those authors whose fiction I desperately want to like, but the actual text keeps getting the way. You summed it perfectly: one is expecting “good, pulpy fun, but instead it’s awful with no redeeming qualities.” I’m glad to hear from your report here that perhaps there’s still some pleasure to be gleaned from his work.

    Comment by Nick Ozment - March 18, 2014 5:46 pm

  8. @ Joe B. – Thanks, Joe. I’m normally a fan of Price’s pastiche stories (HPL and REH)and I actually didn’t like his Thongor tales. I thought they stood out poorly next to Carter’s own in the Young Thongor collection.

    @ Ken L. – Never bought it by I remember the 2nd ed. from the book racks

    @ Joe H. – If only he had been able to Google for verification ;)

    Comment by Fletcher Vredenburgh - March 18, 2014 5:51 pm

  9. @Fletcher — Well, I suppose we could go into any number of Wikipedia entries, make appropriate edits, and cite Imaginary Worlds or various Lin Carter introductions as our sources …

    Comment by Joe H. - March 18, 2014 7:25 pm

  10. Carter was a terrible writer, but one thing he seemed to have a knack for was mood.

    Comment by CMR - March 18, 2014 7:29 pm

  11. Lin Carter remains one of my favorite writers of sword and sorcery. I think there are many who try to write sword and sorcery but few who make the mark. Harry Turtledove, for instance, is an amazing writer, but I felt that his Conan of Venarium fell flat. Robert Jordan’s Conan books were some of the worst Conan stories I’ve read. Still, Jordan writes one of the best kick ass series in the Wheel of Time. I find Martin’s Game of Thrones a great read but his battle scenes are dull at best. Carter may not have passed the test of the grammer-Nazis but he could spin a good Conan tale. He may have imitated Edgar Rice Burroughs plot lines but I value the Green Star series more than the Princess of Mars series. Hands down Carter was a good writer in my book.

    I appreciate y’alls comments and I know that I’m the minority here but Carter resonates with many readers that I know.

    I think the hardest barb I’ve read was the tone of people scorning the Amazon self publishing scene. B.V. Larson dominates the military sci-fi corner and yet he wouldn’t get the time of day from the major publishing houses. In the old days what made a writer “legit” was publishing in a big publishing house. This was the same industry that exterminated sword and sorcery. I think y’all are right that Carter would be all over the Amazon scene but he would be a heavyweight like Larson. He may not be “legit” in your minds but he is “legit” in mine. Sneer at Amazon all you want but they revolutionized the publishing industry and they brought back the magazine industry as well. Science Fiction magazines were dying left and right with only a few on life support. Amazon put a pulse back in to many niche genres and I think it deserves better respect.

    Comment by Wild Ape - March 18, 2014 8:13 pm

  12. Certainly none of Carter’s fiction is destined to survive. Just about everything he wrote is a carbon copy of a more vivid original, be it Burroughs, Lovecraft, Howard, Smith, Merritt, Lester Dent, or whoever. Even copies can give you some sense of the virtues of the original, however, and in his better stuff Carter sometime was able to do that. I think Joe B. hit on why he didn’t do it more often – Carter just produced these things so damn fast. But you always knew that he genuinely loved his models and that – plus the fact that I love the originals too – makes his fiction more readable for me than it probably deserves. Heck, I read Thongor and the Wizard of Lemuria a few years back and got a fair amount of fun out of it. At least Carter only asked you to waste a couple of afternoons with his stories, not a couple of decades, like some fantasy writers I could mention – and as I get older, that’s coming to seem a real virtue.

    Comment by emcgargle - March 18, 2014 8:21 pm

  13. @ Wild Ape – I definitely wasn’t coming down on the Amazon self publishers. I think Carter’s books wouldn’t get published by the big houses these days but he was so productive and enthusiastic he would have taken things into his own hands. I think also the speed of reader feedback might have made him a more conscientious writer

    @ emcgargle – After being happily surprised by the Young Thongor collection I’m hoping to read the rest of the novels in the future. Nice and short is definitely a bonus for me in this day of endless series.

    Comment by Fletcher Vredenburgh - March 18, 2014 8:34 pm

  14. Yeah, there’s some good stuff being self-published these days — William King springs to mind.

    Comment by Joe H. - March 18, 2014 8:52 pm

  15. Carter’s stuff must have sold well enough, back in the day; someone liked it. Donald Wollheim wasn’t running a charity.

    Comment by emcgargle - March 18, 2014 9:18 pm

  16. @Fletcher Okay, I’ll stand down the orbital bombardment and Lemurian Death Squads (many of whom are bigtime Carter fans). I think Carter would have been weeded by the publishing houses because sword and sorcery didn’t fit their profitable models–so I agree. As for that hilarious example of Carter’s faux-archaic-train-wreck sentence, I doubt Carter proof read his work much and yes I hold him accountable, but if I were the Grand Poobah of Double Day fiction I think I would have had Carter’s editor flogged. How could you put your stamp of approval on that? As for you grammar Nazis—I’m just poking fun, I get a little irritated at the mistakes too.

    Thank you for posting this and commenting–even you Carter haters out there. I think the genre of sword and sorcery needs more cheerleaders like Carter to hype up the attention. That is one reason I keep coming back to Black Gate is because you guys do the genre justice.

    Comment by Wild Ape - March 18, 2014 9:27 pm

  17. Carter’s Tolkien: Look Behind book was a neat book to get into the hands of a young teenager though one wishes it had been better. In that respect it reminds me of the book by Duriez and Porter, The Inklings Handbook. That’s a pretty bad book, and yet it could be a great stimulant for young readers who’ve maybe read the Narnian books, The Hobbit, and LOTR.

    Comment by Major Wootton - March 18, 2014 10:24 pm

  18. I may occasionally have things to say about Lin Carter’s scholarship or his writing, but that in no way diminishes the debt I owe him for introducing me to so many very, very good things.

    Comment by Joe H. - March 18, 2014 10:38 pm

  19. I was pleasantly surprised by Kellory, myself.

    Morgan Holmes had kind things to say about Carter’s LOST WORLD OF TIME that I happen to agree with. I think it’s far and away his best book. I’ve always thought that it’s a fun adventure romp. You put that and Kellory and about a dozen of his best short stories in an omnibus as the Best of Lin Carter and you’d have something most fans of sword-and-sorcery wouldn’t mind re-reading from time to time. Again, Morgan Holmes kind of went there first in an interesting article in the collection of essays about Lin carter titled APOSTLE OF LETTERS.

    I happen to think that his short story “Zingazar” is a minor masterpiece, even if it is a riff on Lord Dunsany’s “Sword of Welleran.” I’ve been trying to get O’Neill to read it for YEARS.

    Oh, and I have a soft spot for his “Callisto” books, which I found a lot of fun to read in a Burroughsian rip-off way. I’ve never re-read them, though, and I HAVE re-read LOST WORLD OF TIME, once, and “Zingazar” multiple times, which is indicative of quality. Or my taste, I suppose.

    Comment by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones - March 19, 2014 7:54 am

  20. I’m pretty sure the Kylix books were the Carter novels I read most recently. I did like the concept — unrelated adventures on different planets in the same solar system.

    Comment by Joe H. - March 19, 2014 10:22 am

  21. [...] there’s a discussion of one of Lin Carter’s better books over at Black Gate today, courtesy of the insightful Fletcher Vredenburg. I always thought Kellory [...]

    Pingback by Stalking the Links | Howard Andrew Jones Howard Andrew Jones - March 19, 2014 11:03 am

  22. Overall a very good article on Lin Carter. I’ll have to look for this. I wondered if he’d wrote other books on that series, I’d read “The Wizard of Zao” – it’s a tribute to CAS’s “Xiccarph” btw

    Personally I love “The Black Star” – haven’t read it yet, but the cover… Well, one of Frazetta’s nicer pics…. Heh, it’s really, really GAY. But we are PC and that’s acceptable now, even though I ain’t. But the cover is so gay I fight laughing.

    The thing to remember was that Lin Carter was a “Good” writer aka “Three star” out of five. No way he’d get published today where they want 4 star writers then make them write 2 star stories at 4 star quality, but blacklist 5+ star ones for fear they could demand their own path and the fans would follow.

    He was, however a “Genius” level editor… And a visionary and a strong lover of fantasy/sci-fi.

    And it was his influence, all those paperbacks in the used bookstore and library I read as a child that got me to love fantasy, sci-fi stuff that much. Frankly, I loved his “Conan” work with DeCamp. Later I did notice REH was infinitely better, and big deal. Too bad so few REH Conan stories and I liked that Carter and DeCamp did more for people to read, esp from REH’s other works and unfinished stuff. I was really amused to find out “The Flame Knife” was a re-write of a story in a different era, different hero, “Three Bladed Doom”:-) But I liked them both.

    IMO Lin Carter essentially sacrificed himself for the fantasy and sci-fi genre. His end wasn’t pleasant, both cancer and big financial problems. And both being a ‘good’ writer and rescuing so many greats from obscurity (say 1-5 stars is what you expect from the market, these guys are 6-7 I mean CAS, Dunsany, REH is solid 5) his work would be forever diminished by them, added by that his work was often a direct tribute… If he’d just done the 50s thing and worked at a generic boring business but put in all his talent and passion he’d have been an ultra 1%er when he croaked, but no one save his immediate family would have remembered him.

    I think since his death the market has been deliberately slaughtered by consolidating publishers that put out PC drek and sludge to force their own social agenda. Cyberpunk was OK, but by definition a limited genre and nothing really better than the ‘foundational’ works by Gibson. The rest, well I’d grown up as a kid in the late 70s-80s then started buying ‘new’ books and – gaaaahhhh!!! The sudden change really hit, and not for the good.

    Oh, and the books are printed in CHINA. They used to be printed in the USA.

    IMO Lin Carter needs more remembrances, and indeed there should be an effort to re-publish his books, with nice covers and illustrations on Kindle. Keep the price low so more people can just buy the whole set for not too much change. He’s not a great writer like those he saved from obscurity, but he’s a good writer, well worth tons of $2-$3 book prices digital and his editorial works, his “Flashing Swords” really need to be re-distributed.

    Comment by GreenGestalt - March 19, 2014 3:20 pm

  23. @ GreenGestalt That was a great post. I would like to see a re-pub of his books on Kindle. They are making nothing right now. I’d like to hear Howard Andrew Jones (and I may have this wrong) resurrected the Harold Lamb stories. I have one of them and I plan to fill out that library of his books when I can. How does on get the rights for Carter? I’d love to see them reprinted.

    And Adrian Cole—give us MORE! Young Thongor filled the gap that I’ve been trying to get since I first read the first Thongor novel. Also, Mr. Cole–reprint your stuff too. I didn’t have the dinaro when I was young to buy your books but I’d like to correct all that.

    Comment by Wild Ape - March 19, 2014 6:22 pm

  24. A pretty big thread for a “marginal” writer, so many years afer his death. Lc would be pleased, I think!

    Comment by emcgargle - March 19, 2014 7:15 pm

  25. @ Howard J. – Never read the story – so I just dug it and Dunsany’s Welleran out for tonite

    @ Green – A few of Carter’s books have made it to e-book, The Green Star and a few singletons. All the Flashing Swords! and his Ballantine anthologies should be looked at to be reprinted.

    @ emcgargle – I know, it’s a great testimony to the man. I thank everybody for participating.

    Comment by Fletcher Vredenburgh - March 19, 2014 7:24 pm

  26. I believe that Robert M. Price still holds the rights to all of Lin Carter’s work.

    As to how I got the Lamb stuff going, it’s a long story. It took years, and there were many twists and turns. Succinctly, I happened upon a cache of never reprinted Lamb stories that were falling apart. I decided to scan them to preserve them because they were fine enough I thought I’d probably want to re-read them.

    The only job I could find in the 90s was as a technical book editor — well, I started as a third shift proofreader and worked my way up — which meant that I knew how editors talked and pitched books and all that.

    Eventually I tracked down the copyright holder and got permission to approach publishers. I saw that Bison was reprinting Robert E. Howard’s historicals. So I cold called them, pitched the Lamb project, and they took a chance. Keep in mind that I already had a lot of the work pre-scanned and I’d accidentally become an expert by reading all the hard-to-find stuff, and that I had professional editing credit, so I must have looked like a safe bet.

    Comment by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones - March 19, 2014 8:02 pm

  27. I’d like to register my appreciation of Carter’s taking the time to write to me when, a high school kid in Oregon (but LC didn’t know that), I wrote to him about his BAF anthology New Worlds for Old. (I’m not sure if I wrote him c/o Ballantine or at a home address printed in a fanzine.) Granted, his reply contained a snub — ! (I’d criticized a poem or two, and he suggested that, if I didn’t like it/them, maybe Agatha Christie was more in my line!) So I wrote back with an “ouch” message, and he wrote back with a sort-of apology. I was pretty impressed to hear from a pro editor and writer. He could’ve just ignored me.

    Comment by Major Wootton - March 20, 2014 12:18 pm

  28. Geez, take a few days to travel and look what I miss. Of course, reading and typing while driving isn’t the best idea, particularly when traveling through a Vast Emptiness With No Signal.

    Interesting article. I’ve never read any of Carter’s fiction beyond his Conan pastiches he did with de Camp. I may need to give him a try.

    Comment by westkeith - March 20, 2014 2:16 pm

  29. Keith – YOUNG THONGOR, edited by Adrian Cole is a lot of fun. Much better than his Conan pastiches or Thongor novels. The story Howard Jones recommended, “Zingazar”, is in the BAF book NEW WORLDS FOR OLD and is very good.

    Comment by Fletcher Vredenburgh - March 20, 2014 2:34 pm

  30. At the end of one of his anthologies (New Worlds for Old?) Carter mentions working on something along the lines of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. I’ve often wondered what ever became of it.

    I haven’t seriously attempted any of his novels, as the short stories I’ve read struck me as, well, fan fiction. Maybe if he hadn’t always been trying to write in someone else’s voice then his output would have been a bit better. Perhaps I’ll give Kellory a go.

    Like everyone who enjoys such things, though, I owe him a tremendous debt for making the old fantasy classics available and accessible. I have a shelf full of well-used Ballantines. For that alone he deserves to enter the Valhalla of REH and his peers, in my opinion.

    Comment by Raphael - March 20, 2014 3:02 pm

  31. Thanks to all the replies!

    Frankly, he’d be the perfect author to “Dump onto Kindle” and I mean it with perfect respect to him.

    My idea:

    1. Get the rights/permission to his works. His works, also especially the “Flashing Swords” stuff.
    2. Also secure the covers he used, we are selling nostalgia. The Frazetta ones might be expensive, but likely most would be very reasonable since Lin Carter was a huge chunk of Fraz’s paychecks for a long time…(note a) and the republishing acts as advertising for Frazetta books, etc.
    3. Ditto for the INTERIOR illustrations, yes, read the Kindle manual, it’d be easy to include the B&W illustrations many had.
    4. Put them on Amazon for the $3 range. Instead of punishing people for more than the ‘dead tree’ price, put them cheap. He had a LOT of books, so people will be able to casually buy them and collectors will load up on them. Also the lower price will deter ‘theft’, why risk a torrent when a $25 Amazon gift card would buy the equivalent of 1′ high worth of printed books by him, likely cheaper than a used book store even.

    This might be a nice business idea for this site to promote? Work out #1, #2 since that’s most of the setup cost. Get people to pitch in money and labor, I’m a very fast typist and have a pile of his books, others are probably posted on the net already and a few are epub, and I’m looking into Kindling some of my upcoming works so it’d be good practice. Then as the $ comes in, pay it out in proportion to contribution. We could keep it on Kindle since we’d keep 60% of the sales if its exclusive and even an android tablet or any computer can get a kindle app to read it. (I read a lot from my Toshiba Thrive tablet)

    a – this was the time, acc to one of the art books of Frazetta, where he was upset/got artists block over people ‘correcting’ his work (I love your ancient Roman pic, but a centurion would have worn…) and in response some publishers said “Send us some of your paintings, we’ll have our hacks write a story to match the cover!”

    Comment by GreenGestalt - March 20, 2014 5:18 pm

  32. @ Howard Andrew Jones—thank you for that bit of knowledge. It sounds like you did a lot of work to salvage a great writer and bring his work back to life. I bet this could be done with Carter. On a personal note–thank you for doing that. I will slowly get all the novels. On another personal note—I love your books and I know that you are working hard on more of them. Thank you for those Arabian tales of Dabir and Asim. Great reads!

    @ GreenGestalt I think it would be a good project. This is something that I would be interested in looking into. Since most of this crowd reads the same things that I do I come to this site to see what else is out there and I usually end up buying what they recommend. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Kindle anthologies are cheap and the $3 mark is a good price to profit ratio as the publisher gets %70 of the price. I’m speaking as a buyer and not from experience as a publisher. 3 bucks for some Lin Carter books? Hell yeah!

    Comment by Wild Ape - March 20, 2014 6:57 pm

  33. “The story Howard Jones recommended, “Zingazar”, is in the BAF book NEW WORLDS FOR OLD and is very good.”

    NEW WORLDS FOR OLD was published in September of 1971, and I’m only halfway through 1969. I may need to skip ahead. Or read faster.

    Or both.

    Comment by westkeith - March 20, 2014 11:08 pm

  34. [...] was something about them that I remember liking. Reading Lin Carter’s Kellory the Warlock last week (and whoever thought a writer most people agree was generally mediocre could attract so many [...]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » I Invoke the Voidal! Oblivion Hand by Adrian Cole - March 25, 2014 6:40 pm

  35. [...] His Name is Vengeance: Kellory the Warlock by Lin Carter [...]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in March - May 30, 2014 11:40 pm


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