Monday, October 18, 2010

Elak of Atlantis (Planet Stories # 4)

The fourth book in the Planet Stories line is Elak of Atlantis by Henry Kuttner. The book is a collection of six short sword-and-sorcery stories originally published in Weird Tales between 1938 and 1941. Four of the stories feature Elak, a (voluntarily) exiled prince adventuring through a fairly standard generic medieval-Europe style land called Atlantis. With the help of his always drunken friend Lycon and the mysterious druid Dalan, Elak gains the thrown of his native land over the course of the stories after battling evil wizards and the like. The last two stories in the book feature a character named Prince Raynor as the hero, who has similar adventures assisted by a loyal (but always subservient) bodyguard named Eblik and a sword-wielding love interest named Delphia.

Despite the glowing introduction by Joe Lansdale, there's nothing particularly noteworthy or memorable about these stories. They are competent, straight-forward noble hero vs. evil wizard adventure tales, but whatever originality they may have had in the 1930s is definitely gone by now. For the hardcore sword-and-sorcery fan only.

After reading several, I'm pretty bummed with the Planet Stories line of novels--there's a lot less in the way of hidden gems than stories deservedly forgotten.

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