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Renegade Swords –

Renegade Swords

Sunday , 22, March 2020 8 Comments

There is a rush discovering unknown or obscure fiction in your favorite genre.  Sometimes you find a great story in an anthology or collection. You find that digest or pulp magazine that contains a story you never heard of that pushes all the right buttons. Swords & Sorcery, The Fantastic Swordsmen, The Young Magicians, Swords Against Darkness all have provided an escape from the mundane world. Reprint sword and sorcery anthologies have been non-existent since Robert Adams’ Barbarians paperbacks in the 1980s. DMR Books has brought out a new reprint collection of vintage sword and sorcery fiction.

Renegade Swords is a new book collecting eight stories:

“The House of Arabu” by Robert E. Howard is a story first published in The Avon Fantasy Reader by Donald A. Wollheim. My guess is this was written by Robert E. Howard in the early 1930s around the same time as the Turlogh O ’Brien and Bran Mak Morn stories. A wandering Argive warrior finds evil in Mesopotamia.

“Necromancy in Naat” (unabridged version) by Clark Ashton Smith is a story in his Zothique cycle. Zothique, the final continents eons in the future where dark sorcery has returned.

“The Woman of the Wood” (previously unpublished version) by A. Merritt was the most popular story to appear in Weird Tales. Younger readers need to rediscover A. Merritt who occupied the position later J. R. R. Tolkien held.

“The Slaughter of the Gods” by Manly Wade Wellman is the last of the Kardios of Atlantis stories. This originally appeared in the anthology Heroic Visions from 1986. The Kardios stories have a joyful breeziness to them.

“People of the Dragon” and “The Pillars of Hell” by Lin Carter were in Fantastic in the middle 1970s. Carter set out to tell the tale of a wandering tribe with each story about adventure each generation. This is among the best stuff Carter ever wrote.

“The Rune-Sword of Jotunheim” by Glenn Rahman and Richard L. Tierney. There was once a magazine called Fantasy Book that lasted from 1981 to 1987. It was 8.5 x 11 inches in dimension and saddle stapled. It had high production values with generally good art for the covers. It ran all sorts of fantasy including sword and sorcery in most issues. As you can guess, this is a northern tale by two fine writers of sword and sorcery.

“Princess of Chaos” by Bryce Walton. I wrote a post about this story in my “Pulp Swordsmen” series. Reprinted from Planet Stories. The story has some gonzo elements including a scene where the hero kills a giant bat and makes a sail out of one of its wings.

I helped the editor with suggestions of some of the stories. The cover has a late 1970s retro look, not the static photo-shopped covers you see so much today.

You can get the book as a trade Paperback: 9” x 6”, 196 pages, $14.99 or digital: $3.99 at Amazon.

  • JohnnyMac says:

    I read that A. Merritt story “The Woman of the Wood” for the first time just a few days ago. It was in a collection entitled “Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy” (2003, 436 pgs.) ed. Douglas A. Anderson. I shall have to buy your book and see if I can spot the differences.

    By the way, could you expand on what you mean by “unabridged version” of the CAS story “Necromancy in Naat”? I have read that story as included in the collection “Zothique” from Ballantine Books, edited by Lin Carter.

    • D.M. Ritzlin says:

      The differences in “The Woman of the Wood” will be easy to spot. The previously unpublished parts are the first two pages.

      The unabridged version of “Necromancy in Naat” is approximately 1300 words longer than the version you read. Before Renegade Swords, the unabridged version only appeared in the Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith from Night Shade Books.

  • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:


    I can’t wait to read it. Regarding the Zothique stuff, I’m not very familiar with it. Sounds intriguing though.

    • JohnnyMac says:

      For my money his “Zothique” stories are some of the best that CAS wrote. I was going to recommend that you get a copy of the 1970 paperback collection that I mentioned above in which Lin Carter put all the stories into one book. However, when I went to check availability on Amazon I was startled to find that copies of it now start at $39.99 (plus shipping). And go up steeply from there.

      You will find Zothique stories scattered in more recent and reasonably priced collections of CAS’s work but I really wish some enterprising publisher would bring them out in one volume again.

      • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:

        Thanks! And thanks for checking on the availability. Once my public library reopens in a month, I will look for more of the stories.

        • JohnnyMac says:

          A good library should have some of CAS’s work on their shelves. Night Shade published a five volume series “Clark Ashton Smith Collected Fantasies” fairly recently. The first book came out in 2006 and the last in 2010. They are still available in paperback and e-book formats.

          I feel your pain on the closed libraries. Ours, here in Portland, have been closed for almost two weeks now. And no date for reopening has been set.

  • deuce says:

    This is an anthology that is very much needed. Some obscure–but classic–stuff in there.

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