The Bane of Kanthos (Ace Books, October 1969). Cover by Gray Morrow
I read The Bane of Kanthos by Alex Dain in the original 1969 edition, which was part of an Ace Double with Kalin by E. C. Tubb. The cover uses the phrase sword-and-sorcery, but The Bane of Kanthos is a sword & planet novel. An earthman is transported to an alternate world via passage through a black gate. He discovers that the world is at risk from a great, reawakened evil, and that he is the only one who can save it.
There are staunch allies, nasty villains, and a beautiful warrior-princess. All these tropes are familiar, but I enjoy them. What raised this book above the standard level for me was the fine writing. I thought the author’s word usage and prose choices were excellent.
[Click the images for superior versions.]
Frontispiece map and first page of The Bane of Kanthos
The original cover, with the hero fighting a giant spider, was done by Gray Morrow, a name many will be familiar with. There’s also a world map as the frontispiece.
In 2013, the book was rereleased from Amazon’s Create Space program, most likely meaning it was released by the author. It had the subtitle: The Chronicles of the Gates: Book 1. However, no further books have been released in the series up to this point in 2023.
The Bane of Kanthos (Amazon CreateSpace, January 30, 2013)
After doing some sleuthing, I found author Alex Dain (author) on Facebook and checked out his page. It was the writer of Bane, and even had a “teaser” first chapter of a sequel called The Battle for Kanthos.
I sent him a message and heard back. Bane was his first published novel and he had intended to write more. He said he might still do so but is currently writing thrillers under his real name, Alex Lukeman. Here is his webpage.
Charles Gramlich administers The Swords & Planet League group at Facebook, where this post first appeared. His last article for Black Gate was The Mystery of Alan Burt Akers.