I was commenting the other day on the surplus number of wonderful S&S anthologies I’ve stumbled on since a friend and I began a collaborative shared world writing project a few weeks ago, both writing stories set in a fantasy/medieval city with a history and a river and neighborhoods and taverns and all the usual trappings. His background in world building (via D&D or whatever) is less than mine, and mine is quite scant, so our efforts have grown in odd bits and pieces: first the tavern, then the name of the city, then a mountain backed up against it, and so on.
And while writing and inventing and noting what I was writing and inventing, I’ve kept reading new (to me) material, noting those books and writers people clamor about and ordering their books and waiting impatiently by the mailbox every afternoon to see what’s arrived – David Gemmell’s first novel, or George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, or Matthias Thulmann: Witch Hunter or, just yesterday, James Enge’s Blood of Ambrose – I read and very much enjoyed his “The Red Worm’s Way” in Return of the Sword and want to read further about his hero Morlock Ambrosius…
I am writing this on the front porch of my cabin in the woods, drinking cheap beer and eating liverwurst and onion sandwiches and listening to Bob Dylan, in a perfect mood to tackle my ongoing story, involving an old knight who comes home to die and gets entangled in one last adventure … a bit stuck in the middle, but hopefully once I type it up – I typically write longhand first draft – the scales will fall from my eyes and I can figure out how to head it toward the end. There is something invigorating about this kind of writing, 10 times moreso than any workshop story I ever attempted (I never was very good at those – I kept wanting to throw weirdness into everything I wrote, and neither workshop profs nor fellow MFA writing students deal particularly well w/ weirdness of the sort I am drawn to). I always wanted to write a fantasy story based on Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” – don’t know if that’s ever been attempted.
Right now re-reading Tim Powers’ The Drawing of the Dark and then Blood of Ambrose and who knows what else. (Solomon Kane, whom I’ve neglected unjustly for decades, and discovering Henry Kuttner wrote some amazing S&S, e.g. Elak of Atlantis.)
Feels like a race against time to catch up. At this point nobody’s reading this but me and maybe one other person, but it’s good to vent in this fashion, even a little…
Those anthologies are great. I am glad sword & sorcery (heroic fantasy, whatever) is still alive and thriving. For years I have ignored, too, books written/published that I foolishly regarded as useless crap spinoffs from gaming systems – Warhammer, Forgotten Realms, etc. – but I suspect I have been an exclusionary fool about these things, as usual. I’ve never read a book by R.A. Salvatore. How can someone claim to love this kinda fantasy and ever read R.A. Salvatore?
I am correcting the situation very quickly.
Am going to send out info on my blog (at dragonsandswords.blogspot.com) in hopes I can get some feedback. Help a brother out!