Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sword and Sorcery

As I'm getting prepared to start my foray into serial publishing, I find myself doing lots of research into the great serial stories of the past, and I like what I find. After all, it wasn't just the old classics that did this, magazines were following serial stories well into the 80s and some even longer. One name, though, that I constantly find myself running into is “Sword and Sorcery.”

I'll admit that, as a sub-genre of fiction, I didn't really know what it was. I had to wikipedia it.

sword and sorcery is a sub-genre of fantasy that's known for swashbuckling, adventurous heroes that, as opposed to epic fantasy, deal with personal and smaller-scale problems instead of world-shattering ones. Instead of following the commanders of nations as they wage wars and battle evil, an S and S hero is a man with a job to do, a princess to rescue, and a new enemy every week. An epic fantasy series, like Wheel of Time, is one problem that only gets resolved at the end of the cycle. A sword and sorcery series, by contrast, continues until you run out of things for your main character to do, which if you're a creative writer could very well be never. When I think about turning roleplaying into books, I think of sword and sorcery.

The problem is, then, that I don't really know many modern examples of S and S. Seriously, I could rattle off epic fantasy titles for hours, but where are the great sword and sorcery books? I know David Chandler has a new one coming out (you can read a review of it here) and I've got a nice Conan the Barbarian collection at home I can delve into, but other than that I'm not sure where to start. If anyone knows a great sword and sorcery series I could look up, I'd really appreciate it.

Getting ready for World Con, the best five days in literature. Officially now I'll be running a one-shot adventure in my world Friday at 3, for all of you who'd like the chance to see how I roll (d20's.)

Thanks for reading,


  1. You should look up David Gemmell; not only do his books fall into the sword & sorcery sub-genre (or "heroic fantasy," as it seems to have been re-dubbed), but they are absolutely AWESOME.

  2. Thx for the link. :) I would check out Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion series, especially Elric. Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are my favorites. Those will get you a good start, in addition to the original Conan stories.

  3. Yay JoetheLawyer wrote on my website! Thanks, I'll have to check those out. :)