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November 29, 2008 / schulerbooks

Sci-Fi Essentials- Sword & Sorcery Three-For-All

This month, Sci-Fi Essentails at our Eastwood location spotlights not one book, but three paramount classics in one of fantasy’s most invigorating sub-genres: Sword and Sorcery.

Over shadowy spires and gleaming towerslay the ghostly darkness and silence that runs before dawn. Into a dim alley , one of a veritble labyrinth of mysterious winding ways, four masked figures came hurridly from a door which a dusky hand furitively opened.

With lone wolf heroes, perilously personal quests, and cities & empires richly described right down to the gutters; Sword and Sorcery feels different in almost every way from its bombastic cousin, Epic Fantasy. Arguably begun by Robert E. Howard of Texas with his tales of Conan of Cimmeria, a barbaric sword for hire from the North. Sometimes a soldier, sometimes just in the wrong place and the wrong time, the Cimmerian found himself always an outsider, his great adventures moreoften concerned with earning that week’s purse of coins or self-preservation than with grand majesty to save the whole of the lands.

Without looking up from where he knelt, Fafhrd remarked, “That… ferret they had with them. Where did it go?”
“Ferret?” the Mouser answered briefly. “It was a marmoset!”
“Marmoset,” Fafhrd mused. “That’s a small tropical monkey, isn’t it?”

If there is a recurrent space in this lush and oft-underestimated genre, it is the city, with its markets and alleyways wherein man and women of all classes and schemes intersect, where beggar and necromancer alike rub shoulders in the taverns and brothels by twilight or mid-day sun. None knows it’s many passways more than Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, adventurers, scoundrels, and most importantly the closest of friends. Created by Fritz Leiber, these two veteran comrades stomped about through the streets of the city of Lankhmar, one of the most famed cities in all of fantasy.

Into these barbarian trod streets laden with good cheer and camaraderie comes Elric, the archetypal pale faced S.O.B. Last of the sorceror kings of the empire of Melnibone, the “White Wolf,” as he was called was a brooding cripple, riddled with ennui and melancholy. His only drive in life: to wage war against the forces of chaos, the very same forces to which his own family lineage was forsworn to. Aided in his efforts by the chaotic black bladed sword Stormbringer, with which he fueled himself to berserker furies by consuming the souls of those whom he had slain. With the Elric stories, Michael Moorcock turned every convention of the fantasy hero as divine right upside-down and widdershins, creating fantasy’s ultimate anti-hero.

Each of these titles will be available at our Eastwood Town Center location at a limited time discount of 20% until December 15th.

–Greg Baldino, Eastwood


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