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Elak of Atlantis [Kindle Edition]

Henry Kuttner
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Swords and Sorcery clash with riveting results in these four classic stories!

"[A] pomegranate writer: popping with seeds—full of ideas."  —Ray Bradbury

When Robert E. Howard died in 1936, some of the greatest science-fiction and fantasy writers stepped into the void to pen amazing tales of swords and sorcery.  Weird Tales published these four stories by iconic author Henry Kuttner, perfect for fans of Conan the Barbarian, and vital for every fantasy reader.  Depicting a brutal world of swords and magic, with a hint of the Lovecraft mythos, Kuttner unleashes four tales as vital in today’s Game of Thrones world as they were when they first published.

These stories include:
Thunder In the Dawn
The Spawn Of Dagon
Beyond The Phoenix
Dragon Moon

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5396 KB
  • Print Length: 149 pages
  • Publisher: Diversion Books (29 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #556,386 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 6 little masterpieces, all in a row 14 Aug. 2009
By Manly Reading TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Henry Kuttner was one of the fathers of pulp in the 30's and 40's. This 220-odd page book is a collection of 4 Elak tales, and two of Prince Raynor. Both characters are great fun, and for me Elak's drunken offsider Lygon steals most of his scenes.

In addition to Elak (which is in fact not his real name - there is some real depth to the characters if you look a little deeply) and Lygon, there are pretty girls, a pyromaniacal druid, and horrors both of this world and other worlds.

The tales are told with humor and full of derring-do. Its also a pleasant change to read a collection of short stories rather than a never-ending multi-volume fantasy.

Prince Raynor also makes an appearance, with the style of these stories clearly reflecting the Conan stories published in Weird Tales earlier in the decade. Once again there is an offsider (a giant, somewhat pessimistic nubian) and a pretty girl (the same one) across two linked stories.

The characterisation of the antagonist of the first Raynor tale is superb: in a few lines of dialogue we gain a glimpse of a irredeemably tortured soul wishing for redemption, but knowing it is out of reach.

These are forgotten masterworks, fantasy from before Lord of the Rings defined the genre, and well worth a read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Proof of Kuttner as One of America's Greatest Sci-Fi Writers 11 April 2008
By Marcus H. Smilfer - Published on
I was introduced to Henry Kuttner twenty years ago as one of a number of authors included in yet another Martin Greenberg edited collection of pulp stories. After suffering through several poor examples of purple prose, Kuttner's brilliant cadence and rhythm immediately stood out from the rest. I became an instant fan of Kuttner and have remained so. This newest collection of the four Elak of Atlantis stories (along with two more featuring another Kuttner character, Prince Raynor) is a welcome addition to my Kuttner collection. Elak is a very human version of so many Sword and Sorcery heroes and more often than not, he is overwhelmed by a greater threat and has to rely on his fat friend Lycon, or his ever-helpful diety Mider to help him out. To me, this just adds to the appeal of Elak; he's not the strongest or best fighter in the room, but he usually is the smartest. As for Kuttner's work being "bland," "flat" and "uninteresting," you should read the stories yourself. If you are a fan of Tolkien, Howard and Moorcock you will not only be surprised by Henry Kuttner's writing, you will be impressed. Well worth the $11-13 to take a trip to the lush, expertly crafted worlds of Henry Kuttner. Thank you to Planet Stories for this beautiful reprint edition.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun romp 21 Feb. 2008
By Krypter - Published on
Styled as an exploration of the early sword-and-sorcery genre in the vein of Robert Howard's Conan, this compilation of several Elak and Prince Raynor stories delivers a healthy dose of adventure, cliche and magic with just a touch of Cthulhu thrown in for good measure. Kuttner's writing style may not be as florid as Clark Ashton Smith's but his view of slaying swordsmen, hapless maidens and icky, tentacled creatures is quite similar and lovingly revealed in this book.

The book itself is a nice softbook with only a few minor flaws, mainly 1) very wide outside margins which forces the reader to bend the book more than is necessary; 2) a few spelling errors (page 88, "sliver"; page 182, "heart") and 3) a rather ugly typeface. My favorite softback books are those of Bester and Dick from Vintage and I urge the editor to consider upgrading the line a little bit in this direction.

Apart from these minor irritations, the stories are great fun and a wonderful source of inspiration for budding S&S GMs looking for some classic two-fisted action. If you like Howard, Leiber, Burroughs or Doc Smith, you'll definitely enjoy Kuttner's Elak.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sword and sorcery 14 Sept. 2008
By Turtlshellz - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A colection of four stories (Thunder in the Dawn, Spawn of Dagon, Beyond the Phoenix, Dragon Moon) concerning the exploits of the adventurer Elak of Atlantis (otherwise known as... but thats telling) and two stories of Prince Raynor (Cursed be the City, Citadel of Darkness) this is one collection well worth buying. The action is well describe and swift, the heroes bold, forthright and well, heroic. The villians are a collection of foul wizards, evil gods and things from beyond.

I have to admit to being more impressed with the two stories about Prince Raynor than I was with Elak of Atlantis but the final Elak story may be the best in the book. Unfortunately there were only two Raynor stories and that was just enough to leave me wanting more.

Henry Kuttner is indeed a Neglected Master (as Ray Bradbury refers to him) of science fiction and fantasy. Hopefully through the release of these Planet Stories Library novels he will have a chance to be noticed and recognized for his achievements.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early, Crudely Written Entertainment From A Budding Genius 22 Feb. 2012
By s.ferber - Published on
When budding author Henry Kuttner wrote a fan letter to the already established "Weird Tales" favorite C.L. Moore in 1936, little did he know that the object of his admiration was a woman...a woman who, four years later, would become his wife, and with whom a collaboration would begin that was ultimately recognized as one of the sturdiest pillars of the Golden Age of Sci-Fi. Such a melding of talents was Henry and Catherine Lucille's, it has been said, that if one of the two stopped writing to go to the bathroom, the other could seamlessly continue the story in progress. Together, the pair wrote hundreds of short stories, in addition to a good dozen novels and novellas, often behind a bewildering plethora of pen names. Planet Stories' release of "Elak of Atlantis" allows us to see Kuttner in his formative writing years, a solo author just beginning to find his voice. The four Elak stories all originally appeared in the classic pulp magazine "Weird Tales," in part to fill the sword-and-sorcery void created when Robert E. Howard--the creator of Conan the Barbarian, King Kull, Bran Mak Morn and Solomon Kane--committed suicide in 1936. The Elak tales are somewhat crudely written, in the best pulp style, often show the weaknesses of a tyro writer, and are a tad repetitious, but are nevertheless fast moving, exciting, pleasingly violent and endlessly imaginative. Each packs quite a bit of story into its brief length, unfortunately features sketchy descriptions and ambiguous turns of phrase, highlights bloody battle sequences and fantastic magic, and is a genuine hoot to read.

In the first, "Thunder in the Dawn" (from the May/June '38 issue of "Weird Tales"), Elak and his fat, drunken companion, Lycon, go to Elak's half-brother's--King Orander's--assistance to save the northernmost Atlantean kingdom of Cyrena from Viking hordes and the evil wizard known as Elf. Into this longest of Elak tales Kuttner throws a vicious tribe of Pikhts, several battle scenes, a gruesome crucifixion, a faun-girl, and several visits to other dimensions. In "The Spawn of Dagon" (July '38), Elak and Lycon are hired to kill a wizard named Zend, and do battle with a horde of the fishlike children of Dagon. This brief tale gives the reader some definite clues as to Atlantis' ultimate fate, and is indebted to Howard's initial King Kull story from 1929, "The Shadow Kingdom," as well as to H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1936). (Kuttner was a huge fan of Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos.) It is a short but gripping tale. In "Beyond the Phoenix" (October '38), Elak and Lycon venture into yet another magical dimension to avenge the killing of the king of Sarhaddon, a western Atlantean kingdom where the duo had been doing mercenary work in the palace. Possibly the most way-out of the quartet, this story tells of warring gods, Assurah and Baal-Yagoth, with Elak caught most uncomfortably in the middle. Finally, there is "Dragon Moon" (January '41), a sequel to "Thunder in the Dawn." Here again, the Druid priest Dalan enlists Elak and Lycon's aid to defend the northern kingdom of Cyrena. Now, a mysterious, soul-sucking force known as Karkora is turning kings into zombies; Orander has chosen suicide in preference, and the realm is in chaos. This terrific tale is easily the best of the bunch, and features an exciting slave galley escape (perhaps inspired by a similar scene in the great Errol Flynn movie from 1940, "The Sea Hawk"), a titanic battle between the forces of Cyrena and Kiriath (with the barbarous Amenalks thrown in for good measure), and even a touching ending of sorts, entailing both sacrifice and an ascension to the throne. In all, no great literature, but surely red-blooded, pulpy fun!

To fill out the volume, and as a special treat, this Planet Stories edition gives us the only two Prince Raynor stories that Kuttner ever wrote. Raynor, it seems, was a young blonde lad who lived in the prehistoric kingdom of Sardopolis, in what is now the Gobi Desert. (A blond Mongolian? Now that IS a fantasy!) In the first tale, "Cursed Be the City" (from the April '39 issue of "Strange Stories," a competitor of "Weird Tales" whose short-lived run only extended to 13 issues), Raynor and his Nubian sidekick, Eblik, seek to avenge his father's--King Chalem's--death, unwittingly releasing the destructive nature god Pan. Fans of the great Algernon Blackwood might find this story to their liking. And in this tale's direct sequel, "The Citadel of Darkness" (from the August '39 issue of "Strange Stories"), which picks up days later, Raynor and Eblik go up against a ruffian named Baron Malric and his retainers, as well as the wizard Ghiar, to rescue the warrior maiden Delphia, whom they had encountered in the initial story. This latter tale is even better than the first, and makes excellent use of its prehistoric-zodiac structure. The reader will surely wish that Kuttner had continued on with more tales of both Elak and Raynor, as Moore had previously done with Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry. Kuttner's rapidly developing skills as a writer, abetted by his collaboration with Moore, could only have served his characters all the better. But the team was to soon become more of a science fiction powerhouse, to the field of sword and sorcery's eternal loss.

One further word as to this Planet Stories volume itself. Although I am grateful to the publisher for making these superrare tales available to the public, and although the book comes with a nicely written and enthusiastic intro from author Joe R. Lansdale, in addition to a helpful map of the Atlantean continent, the book remains something of a mess. It contains more typographical errors than any one book should ever be permitted to have, especially when it sports a cover price of $13 for a paperback. It is painfully obvious that the book was never proofread. I have seen some of these tales in facsimile "Weird Tales" editions and can thus say that these many typos were NOT in the original pulp magazines. And the book even incorrectly gives "Weird Tales" as the source for the Raynor stories on the copyright page! Thus, Planet Stories is to be both thanked for its decision to release these stories as well as scorned for the sloppiness with which it has brought them to light. Even the lesser works of Henry Kuttner deserve the utmost care in their presentation. I can only hope that the other Planet Stories editions are in better shape than "Elak of Atlantis"....
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Book Of Excellent Fantasy 4 Dec. 2008
By Elak Swindell - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book on the title alone for starters, because I am one of the few people in the world named Elak, taken from my great, great grandfather. I also have a fascination with Atlantis, dragons (which are purely symbolic for the actual Annuna race before the Mesopotamian and Sumerian cultures in the Middle East), a love of swordplay (especially fencing, which fits amazingly with the main character's rapier) and ancient knowledge. Interestingly, the very first page of "Thunder In The Dawn" uses a variation of the Piri Re'is map showing Antarctica before it was covered in ice, and is the indicated location of Atlantis. An unusual, and accurate, choice for Kuttner to use. Until now, I've never read any of his works, but this has been an enjoyable read. More so in that I can actually put myself into the character's shoes since we both share the same name and love for adventure and swordplay. This is a prize possession of a book for me and a good read for anyone else.
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