The Sword & Planet of Gardner F. Fox: The Llarn Novels

The Sword & Planet of Gardner F. Fox: The Llarn Novels

Warrior of Llarn and Thief of Llarn by Gardner F. Fox (Ace Books,
1964 and 1966). Covers by Frank Frazetta and Gray Morrow

I discovered Thief of Llarn in my small hometown library. The swordsman on the cover screamed John Carter to me, and the demon skull with the gem in it didn’t hurt any.

I fell in love with this book and finally found a copy for myself. It’s not in great shape. It took me another fifteen years (pre-internet) or so to find Warrior of Llarn, which was actually the first book of the two book series.

I was somewhat disappointed in Warrior, probably because Thief had become almost mythically good to me in my memories. These are solid entries in Sword & Planet fiction. They were published in 1964 and 1966 respectively.

[Click the images for planet-sized versions.]

Kyrik, Kothar, and more: Six paperbacks by Gardner F. Fox

The hero is Alan Morgan, and the style and content are very Edgar Rice Burroughs-ish. Fox was unabashedly an ERB fan and started reading him at a young age.

I found two other cool series by Fox, the Kothar books and the Kyrik books. Both were sword and sorcery rather than Sword & Planet.

Three Kothar novels: Kothar and the Demon Queen, Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse,
and Kothar and the Wizard Slayer (Tower Books, 1969-70). Covers by Jeff Jones

I finally collected all of the books in those series too and have a strong fondness for the Kyrik works, which I’ve written about before. It doesn’t quite fit here, though.

I had no idea until many years later that Fox had also written a lot for comics, mostly for DC. He was a prolific author.

A small sampling of Fox’s prolific work for DC: The Golden Age Sandman and
The Silver Age Adam Strange Omnibus (DC Comics, January 30, 2005 and July 25, 2017)

Charles Gramlich administers The Swords & Planet League group at Facebook, where this post first appeared. His last article for Black Gate was a review of The Bane of Kanthos by Alex Dain.

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Thomas Parker

I dunno. I have both of these, and read Warrior many years ago. I hate leaving things unfinished, and many’s the time I’ve plucked Thief off the shelf… and put it right back, remembering how slapdash Warrior was. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood when I read it; I’ll get to Thief one day, I’m sure.

Fox was insanely prolific in all kinds of genres; in addition to sf, fantasy, and comics, he wrote a ton of historical novels. There’s a whole website devoted to his work, and they have a lot of his books to read online for free:

Last edited 3 months ago by Thomas Parker
Charles Gramlich

I read Thief first and really liked it. Of course, i was pretty young, probably 14 or so. When I read Warrior later, it wasn’t nearly as good. I was also quite a lot older. However, I often find that the first book in these kinds of series suffers against later books because there tends to be a lot of ‘origin’ stuff, which slows the pace. I’ve got some of his historicals, though haven’t read many. I’m also aware of how big a name he was in comics but I haven’t read any of those either.

Thomas Parker

I’ve read a lot of his silver age DC comics; I think it was the medium that best suited his talent. There he could be wildly inventive without having to worry much about style or probability. In comics he could just let ‘er rip, and he’s still considered a significant comics writer (he invented the Earth 1/Earth 2 multiverse where golden age heroes coexisted with their more modern counterparts, for instance).

Charles Gramlich

I’ll have to give his comic stuff a try


I love those covers. I so wish publishers would go back to those kind of cover illustrations. Even though I haven’t read these, it really triggers nostalgia.

Charles Gramlich

I’m with you. There’s just a feeling about them that engages the imagination more than most modern covers.


Fox was a fun writer with a breezy old-school charm. Like you Charles, I also had no idea at first that Fox’s main claim to artistic immortality was his comic book work.

My favorite Fox piece is The Hunter Out Of Time, a 1965 Ace time travel novel that is just about the most Gardner F. Fox thing imaginable. (And graced with a lovely orange/red Gray Morrow cover to boot.)

Charles Gramlich

I haven’t read “Hunter out of Time.” I’ll have to see if I can find it


With covers by Frazetta and Morrow, I was immediately drawn years ago to the Llarn novels in the used book stores that once populated the city centre of Sydney. Now alas, like finding copies of these books, such stores are much rarer beasts.

Charles Gramlich

When I first moved to the house I live in now, about 15 years ago, there were 5 bookstores within a 15 mile radius. Only 2 now, both chain stores that weren’t even open then. i miss them

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