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on 22 February 2013
Lin Carter was one of the many writers I devoured as a kid. In fact his Thongor novels could arguably be the PG rated antidote to Robert E. Howard's X rated tales of carnage and canality. Carter's Thongor was Conan if, in an alternate universe, he had been written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This paperback from Wildside Press contains all the previously uncollected stories culled from various anthologies and pulps of the late '60s and '70s, including those from FANTASTIC STORIES. Of these I would say that "The city in the jewel", with its Burroughs meets Dunsany crossover style, is the best story. Many of the others, "Black Moonlight", are so obviously derivative of Howard's Conan pirate tales and almost offhandedly written as to be scant worthy of mention. "Keepers of the emerald flame" reads better than I recall and though these are not exactly high brow (even by pulp standards) some of the stories provide a nice distraction into a simpler time and era.
I have mixed feelings on Robert M. Price's additions to the canon. I was not enamoured of his fleshing out of Carter's abandoned synopsis which eventually became the Conan story "The thing in the crypt" as co-written with L.Sprague De Camp and later immortalized (in part) on screen in the 1982 CONAN THE BARBARIAN movie.
As another reviewer pointed out, Price's WITCH QUEEN OF LEMURIA is a better effort and a rip roaring read to boot.Unfortunately, however, it was written later and did not make the deadline for this collection. This is a great shame. Since, if I hadn't been told, I could have sworn to Father Gorm that this was Carter himself writing at the peak of his powers!
However,I am glad to see Thongor back. Despite, or perhaps because of, Carter's faults as a writer I have a great love for the sword wielding black hawk from Valkarth. At his best Carter's writing outshone his lack of draughstmanship and you were carried along on a sweeping tide by the enthusiasm and love which he had for his characters. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the best of his Thongor saga.