Saturday, March 24, 2012

Doomed Sword and Sorcery Heroes – A Reading List

This list is limited to Sword & Sorcery books featuring protagonists who fight despite having no chance of winning (i.e. living, saving their people, freeing themselves from a curse, etc.).  Not everyone gets excited about reading about "doom," but some of us relish watching a hero resisting death's embrace.  A happy ending is not what all readers want; some of us just prefer wild journeys (the struggle is the focus, not the end).

Bran Mak Morn- by R. E. Howard
R.E. Howard's Bran is less famous than his Conan, but Bran is arguably more doomed: he leads a devolving people and culture (the Picts), is embattled by the forces of Rome and must work with dark magic to survive.
Elric of Melnibon√© - by  Michael Moorcock

The abject albino prince Elric shares his doom with his dying civilization. Action packed Sword & Sorcery at its finest. (Wiki link)
Kane in Gods in Darkness - by Karl Wagner

Loosely based on the biblical Cain cursed not to die, Kane is an immortal warrior and general.  The series has an ambiguous sci-fi foundation that hints at alien technology, but despite these undercurrents the Kane series are decidedly fantasy masterworks.  Want a doomed hero who has military prowess?  Read Kane.   
Julian the Apostate in We are all Legends - by  Darrell Schweitzer

We Are All Legends is a must-read for fans of doomed protagonists. It is Sword and Sorcery for the adult crowd. Darrell Schweitzer tapped into his extensive weird fiction expertise to craft this great string of tales. It mixes the horrific atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft, with the story telling action of R. E. Howard, with the emotive style of C.A. Smith. (Review Link)
Druss the Legend – by David Gemmell

More “Sword” than “Sword & Sorcery”, Gemmell imbued his aging hero Druss with qualities quintessentially legendary.  Druss returns from his retreat to protect a mountain fortress from an encroaching barbarian horde.  Epic battles abound, and Druss transitions to an respected ghostly status fueling a series of books.
Dilvish, the Damned by Roger Zelazny

Zelznay is better known for his The Amber Chronicles series which blended swashbuckling fantasy and a trippy sci-fi world.  Zelzany (a native Ohioan) also wrote yarns of a hero returned from the dead which are as satisfying. 

Brian Rouwen in The Accursed by Robert Vardeman
In 2010, Vardeman recently wrote a novel adaption for the God of War video game series.  Turns out he has been writing for decades, and in 1994 he published a series regarding a cursed warrior (I just added this to my to-read queue).  This serves as a placeholder for all the other doomed heroes I have yet to discover.
Lord Endenken Lysis in Lords of Dyscrasia- by S. E. Lindberg

Looking for a unique dark adventure?  Follow Lord Lysis, a doomed protagonist who battles otherworldy evil in the Underworld! (Link to About)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sword & Sorcery Film Queue 2012

Fantasy Movies Coming Soon

MAR Wrath of Titans:
Can they make-up for the poorly made 2010 Clash of the Titans 3D with a sequel?
MAR John Carter of Mars: How will Disney treat Edgar Rice Burrough’s (Tarzan author) sci-fi fantasy?
MAY Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage: Patrick Stewart’s narration may give this some street cred.
JUNE

Snow White and the Huntsman:
Thor actor Chris Hemsworth teams up with the Vampire Diaries chick (Kristen Stewart) for some epic action.  Should be an interesting comparison versus Julia Roberts’ rendition of Snow White in Mirror Mirror due out this year as well.
JUNE Pixar and Disney's Brave (2012) - Disney tries out Heroic Fantasy!
AUG Silent Hill Revelation (sequel): Okay, not 100% Sword and Sorcery, but it is a mix of Horror-Fantasy and Pyramid Head does have a large sword and Michael Basset (who just delivered Solomon Kane) is leading the effort.
DEC The Hobbit (2012); stymied by a writer's strike and a legal tangle with the Tolkien estate, the prequel(s) to the Lord of the Rings trilogy promises to be great.

Unknown Release Dates



A Fire and Ice live action movie being produced in 2012 (and a possible Death Dealer after that?!~).  IGN reports this remake of the rotoscoped classic in which Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi teamed up.  Bill Frazetta confirms the film's progress in this video from Comic Con 2011:
Release overseas in 2011.
Not available in US yet.
Solomon Kane
, a well received depiction of R.E.Howard's doomed, religious hero. Click here to request it to come state-side by "Demanding" it.
Red Nails (Since 2006) this endeavor has struggled; based on REH's only full length Conan novel...see some pre-production animations that surfaced.
Elric movie: Check out Michael Moorcock's blog for details.
Castlevania: Based on Konami's popular vampire games; this movie has been bounced around since before 2009.
The Power of the Dark Crystal (2011??) Announced in 2005, this sequel to the Dark Crystal (1982) has stumbled, always making some forward progress.
Red Sonja: Let's hope it is better than the 1985 version... if it is made at all.  The lead role was to be played by Rose McGowan, but she switched assignments to play Marique in the 2011 Conan the Barbarian movie
Bran Mak Morn
At the Mountains of Madness: More weird horror/fantasy than Sword and Sorcery, but it is Lovecraft...and Guillermo del Toro was involved.
Narnia 4 Movie Narnia IV: The Magician's Nephew
2014? maybe?…

And after that… Narnia V: The Silver Chair is planned.