Monday, February 25, 2013

Sword & Sorcery Group Read Mar-Apr 2013 - Sword & Mythos

Sword & Sorcery Group Read: Mar-Apr 2013 - "Sword & Mythos"

We have 2 group reads for the Mar-Apr 2013 period; please join us at the Sword & Sorcery group on 
  1. Focused Topic: Campbells’ Ryre Character - LinkNote ~4 of these tales were printed individually in the Swords Against Darkness anthologies, and the entire set is available from (affordable, but shipping is not instantaneous and has some extra hurdles for non-US based members); see the disucussion thread for more details.
  2. Thematic Read: Sword and Mythos Theme-Link: What is this theme of Sword and Mythos? Many members interpreted this option in the poll as any books with a “Lovecraftian Cthulhu” Mythos flare. That said, the idea of the group read is to encourage discussion, and some interpret “Mythos” as anything emphasizing Myth: Discussion Thread on Sword and Mythos
Bookshelf Examples: Feel welcome to browse for some member-identified Sword and Mythos books (and tag your own selections): Sword and Mythos Bookshelf

The banner is a montage of relevant covers.  Credit for the cover parts as they appear from left to right are below (Artist / Book):
Bob Eggleton: Brian Lumley's Sorcery in Shad: Tales of the Primal Land
Frank Frazetta: R.E.Howard's Bran Mak Morn
Stephen Fabian: R.E. Howard's (2004)Robert E. Howard's Weird Works Volume 1: Shadow Kingdoms 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Return of the Sword- Anthology Review by S.E.

Return of the SwordReturn of the Sword by Jason M. Waltz
S.E. Lindberg Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Highly recommended for new and veteran fantasy readers.

The “Return of the Sword” is aptly titled: the Heroic Fantasy (Sword & Sorcery) genre may have originated with R.E.Howard’s Conan ~1920’s, but it is alive and well; this anthology captures the renewed direction(s).

Anthologies are a great way to discover new authors (well, new for the reader anyway). They offer a buffet of stories, so a well-done anthology should contain some stories that, despite being well written, are not what one may normally read. “Return of the Sword” does this job in superb fashion. It is full of great stories with wondrous variety. I wanted to discover more contemporary S&S authors/styles and am well satisfied. Some of my personal favorites I marked to re-read are:
-Wyrd of War (Bill Ward)
-The Last Scream of Carnage (Phil Emery)
-To Be A Man (Robert Rhodes)
-The Hand that Holds the Crown (Nathan Meyer)
-The Red Worm's Way (James Enge)
-The Mask Oath (Steve Goble)
-Storytelling(E.E.Knight) was an entertaining but serious primer--nice addition.

Amazon Reviews capture the synopses of all 21 stories well enough that I need not repeat them here. But to highlight the effectiveness of this anthology, I list three of my take-aways:

1)Author Discovered (for me): I was completely taken with Phil Emery's "The Last Scream of Carnage" (notably the editor's pick). It was poetic like his “Fifteen Breaths” contribution to the Demons: A Clash of Steel Anthology, and pushed the bounds of the genre a bit. The delivery may prove off-putting to many others; I had to read it twice to really absorb it all. RESULT: not only did I enjoy this author, I enjoyed his style enough to want to track down more of his work  (I just ordered Emery’s novel “Necromantra”).

2)Humor can be ok: I have a personal bias toward liking the grittier-horror side of the genre, but this book showed me that humor can be applied well without distracting or “cheesy”. “To Be A Man” (Robert Rhodes) and “The Red Worm's Way” (James Enge) were engaging, well written, and laced with well-delivered humor.

3)Another Author Discovered: Key ingredients for tales I like include: deep motivations, vivid horror, realized myths, and a touch of artistic flare (poetic or aesthetic). The “Mask Oath” had these, and left me hungry for more. More “Faceless Sons” short stories are out there, but those stories were harder to track down than the author Steve Goble (whom I connected with in the Goodreads Sword and Sorcery group). RESULT: even though I considered myself a veteran S&S reader who read just about everybody in the genre, Return of the Sword revealed another author that hooked my interest again and set me searching for more. 

In summary, Return of the Sword is recommended for fantasy readers looking for contemporary Sword & Sorcery authors… and to veteran readers who have exhausted the works of R.E.Howard, F.Leiber, M.Moorcock, and D.Gemmell.

View all S.E.Lindberg's reviews

Friday, February 1, 2013

In Savage Lands - Book Review

In Savage LandsIn Savage Lands by Jason E. Thummel
S.E.Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

J. Thummel is a great storyteller. With “In Savage Lands” he invites you to be carried away. Trust his craft. Three words summarize this memorable short story collection:

Tour: Feeling the need to escape? Not looking for a 700page starter to an endless series? Then read this. Across these tales you will have many guides ready to take you away: veteran fighters willing to martyr themselves, nameless heroes with just causes, amoral fighters looking for revenge, na├»ve and overmatched victims, sentient swords, dragon hunters, and even those possessed by demons! And where will these characters take you? A splendid variety of locations (from deserts, high seas, mountains alien worlds, highland battlegrounds).  Beyond the thrill of exploring these destinations, there is an additional level of suspense provided by the storytelling.

Mystery: Although these tales are best classified as heroic fantasy, “mystery” best describes the author’s style. Almost every tale has a delightful, believable plot twist or dose of irony; sometimes many are delivered overtly, via unexpected perspectives. If you read them sequentially, you will become acquainted with this style quickly; then you will enjoy another level of suspense, knowing that every tale has a unique spin waiting to be revealed...not knowing what it is.

Magical: Every story is laden with fantasy creatures, characters, and environments. From icy mountains to steampunk battlegrounds and savage jungles, prepare for anything. And the tone varies too: hopeful, gritty, horrific, and even humorous.

“Magical Mystery Tour” should evoke trippy memories of the 1967 Beatle Film & Album; unbeknownst to many in the U.S., Mystery Tours involve the attendees setting budget/timing constraints to go on a trip to an unidentified location; the thrill of the unknown and the promise of adventure awaits the travelers. With “In Savage Lands” J. Thummel delivers such an adventure in book form (less trippy and more organized for sure, but sodden with fantastical mystery).

The author’s “mystery” style influence is represented in his other fantasy (The Spear of Destiny and Cult of Death…Lance Chambers mysteries), and fuels these thirteen tales. Thorvald’s Tale and The Dreamer Wakes were the most horrific (and thus my favorite), but I marked 12 of the 13 as worth rereading… so really I need to highlight the entire table of contents (below). It is difficult to summarize each of these without introducing spoilers, so I just list the titles. Lastly, to quote Lennon/McCartney…“Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour…. The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away…”

Table of Contents:
1)A Stand in the Eye of the Needle (First appeared in Flashing Swords, Issue 10, Cyberwizard Productions, 2008)
2)Dragon Hunter
3)The Spider's Web
4)The Dying Light of Day
5)Mortismagus First appeared in the anthology Magic and Mechanica, Ricasso Press, 2009
6)Nargal of Zagg
7)The Fortunes of War: A Tale of Vladius and Stongi
8)The Homecoming of Brother Antonitus9)The Devourer of the Shunned
10) Thorvold's Tale
11) The Gift of the Unspoken God
12) The Dreamer Wakes
13) Runner of the Hidden Ways First appeared in the anthology Rage of the Behemoth, Rogue Blades Entertainment, 2009

View all S.E. Lindberg's reviews