Short form sword and sorcery

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Short form sword and sorcery

Postby Leelas on Friday, 05 July 2013, 8:35 am

Hi! I've been a fan of this website for almost a decade (I think), ever since it helped me transition from doorstopper fantasy novels to real literature back when I had just finished high school.

Anyway, introduction aside, I am curious if anyone could help me identify any listed sword and sorcery that I may have missed. For the sake of this list, I am defining sword and sorcery as being episodic fantasy set in a secondary world or a fantastical version of the past, and focusing on the exploits of a character or group of characters trying to make their way in this world. Thus I am not asking for heroic fantasy in novel form (unless it is sufficiently episodic), or for epic fantasy such as Tolkien or Eddison in which the fates of kingdoms or the world take precedence to the fate of the protagonists.

I'm specifically looking for sword and sorcery stories which are listed on this website or of a comparable quality to those listed.

So far this is what I have read,

- Lord Dunsany, The Fortress Unvanquishable Save for Sacnoth (and various other stories evocative of S&S)
- Jack Vance, The Dying Earth (I really don't expect to find any sword and sorcery stories better than these)
- Fritz Leiber, Swords Against Death

It seems these are the big ones, but I'm sure there's at least a few more.
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Re: Short form sword and sorcery

Postby owlcroft on Wednesday, 10 July 2013, 5:45 am

Here is a sort of "starter kit", alphabetical by author last name:

Shardik - Richard Adams
The Arthor Tetralogy - A. A. Attanasio
The Dread Empire Septet - Glen Cook
The Black Company Saga - Glen Cook
Ursus of Ultima Thule - Avram Davidson
The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany
The Worm Ouroboros - E. R. Eddison
The Zimiamvia Trilogy - E. R. Eddison
The Drenai Cycle - David Gemmell
The Forest Kingdom Trio - Simon Green
The Arthur Duology - Peter Hanratty
The Lemurian Stone - Stephen Hickman
The Kencyrath Chronicles - P. C. Hodgell
The Bard of Sorcery - Gerard Daniel Houarner
At Amberleaf Fair - Phyllis Ann Karr
Wildraith's Last Battle - Phyllis Ann Karr
The Flat-Earth Cycle - Tanith Lee
Sword of the Demon - Richard Lupoff
The Sunset Warrior Quintet - Eric Van Lustbader
The Iron Tower Trilogy - Dennis McKiernan
The Silver Call Duology - Dennis McKiernan
The Riddlemaster Trilogy - Patricia McKillip
The Cygnet Duology - Patricia McKillip
The Parsival Quartet - Richard Monaco
The War of the Gods on Earth Trilogy - Andrew Offutt
The Titus Saga - Mervyn Peake
Middle-Earth - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Amber Dexad - Roger Zelazny
Cordially,
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Re: Short form sword and sorcery

Postby DavidTate on Friday, 12 July 2013, 11:28 am

I'm not sure this list really answers the question asked, which was specifically about short-form (or at most episodic) swords and sorcery, with a focus on the protagonist and not Larger Fates. It's hard to see how Titus Groan or The Kencyrath Chronicles fit that description.

I can't help much, but here are a couple of thoughts:

C.L. Moore's stories about Jirel of Joiry

(by repute) Richard Tierney's stories about Simon Magus

(by repute) Karl Edward Wagner wrote some good S&S, in addition to his horror output
Last edited by DavidTate on Sunday, 14 July 2013, 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Short form sword and sorcery

Postby Terry Tornado on Saturday, 13 July 2013, 12:04 pm

The Nifft the Lean books by Michael Shea, and the Majipoor books by Robert Silverberg are also worth considering.
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Re: Short form sword and sorcery

Postby DavidTate on Sunday, 14 July 2013, 10:32 am

Terry Tornado wrote:The Nifft the Lean books by Michael Shea

Thank you! I was trying hard to remember the name of Nifft the Lean, but my aging brain failed me. I second the recommendation.
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Re: Short form sword and sorcery

Postby Leelas on Monday, 15 July 2013, 4:33 am

Thanks to all for taking the time to help me. I really appreciate it.

Incidentally, I've read Eddison, Tolkien, Peake, and the suggested Dunsany novel, and I love all of those, even if they weren't exactly what I was fishing for.

I'm particularly interested in the short / episodic format, because I'm a bit of a hobby writer myself, and enjoy working in the short form. Although there is no shortage of short heroic fantasy fiction, there is a severe lack of good short heroic fantasy fiction. I'm looking for examples, to see how it can be done well.

In the case of Jack Vance, I think it works because he writes his fantasy the way others write science fiction. His Dying Earth stories are expositions of ideas, presented as puzzles which his heroes and anti-heroes work their way out of (see: Cugel's clever evasions of the various curses placed on him). There is very little heroic fantasy that feels as speculative as that of Jack Vance.

I'm eager to see how some of these other authors break the mold and present something unique.
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