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The Best Sword & Sorcery Stories

Friday, April 16th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

second-landhkmarOver at SF Signal, editor John DeNardo asked ten science fiction and fantasy writers and editors to pick the best sword and sorcery stories, and explain what makes them so good.

The writers include Black Gate authors James Enge and Martha Wells, as well as Steven Brust, Mercedes Lackey, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mark Chadbourn, P.C. Hodgell, Gail Z. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and Lou Anders.

Here’s what James Enge had to say, in part:

There’s no doubt in my mind that Fritz Leiber’s series about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are the uneven apex of the disreputable S&S mountain…. Leiber was a gifted storyteller and stylist who used the stories to explore what the world is, how it’s made, what the people there are like. Every story takes you someplace different and extends your knowledge — whether the heroes are fighting gods on Rime Isle, ghosts in the unnamed west, or rats or the Thieves’ Guild or advertisers in Lankhmar city, Leiber doesn’t do retreads. And Leiber understands, as few writers do, how horror and humor are two sides of the same coin; likewise love and grief.

It’s a fascinating list, and well worth reading. And you’re sure to find more than a few good recommendations, whether you’re new to S&S or an old sword-brother.

The complete article is here.

1 Comment »

  1. Great article. I’m really glad someone mentioned Clark Ashton Smith, but I can’t believe none of these authors mentioned Lord Dunsany!!!

    Amazing stories like “The Sword of Welleran,” “The Hoard of the Gibbelins,” “The Sword and the Idol,” “Carcassonne,” “The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth,” “In the Land of Time,” and his amazing novel “The King of Elfland’s Daughter,” are all fantastic examples of proto-S&S (that is, sword-and-sorcery decades before the genre was invented by Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith in the pages of WEIRD TALES). Few authors, then or now, evoke that grand legend of sword-upon-shield in a world steeped in mystic wonder as well as Dunsany.

    Another book that should be included in this list of E.R. Eddison and his classic “The Worm Ourobouros.”

    Finally, there are literally dozens of stories by S&S master Darrell Schweitzer which rival anything ever written in the genre, as well as his “Mask of the Sorcerer” and “The White Isle” novels. One of the genre’s most under-apprecaited champions.

    Comment by John R. Fultz - April 16, 2010 11:09 pm


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