|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 Melniboné - 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 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).