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MinDonner

Thongor! Brak! Lankar! Kothar!

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Not wanting to miss out on the fun we're having in the post-Confessor crap-bashing-fest, I finally got round to trawling my local second-hand bookshop for something worthy of a lengthy critique. The title of this one was a good sign, as was the cover, featuring a half-naked barbarian hacking at a dinosaur with a big sword. I'm not sure if it'll reach the heights of the Yeard or the Duke, but we'll see how it goes... if any of you can find a copy then feel free to join in, but as it originally came out in 1966 you may be out of luck.

So, the premise seems to be a prehistoric swords'n'sorcery epic set on the continent of Lemuria, long since sunk beneath the waves, much like Atlantis. Looks like we're set for some barbarians and some monsters. The first paragraph confirms this, with an excerpt from the "Lemurian Chronicles" telling us of Thongor, a "wandering adventurer from the savage wilderness of the Northlands", who is "armed with the iron thews of the warrior". Phew!

But what's this? Just a few lines down the page, amid a colourful description of a thunderstorm, we find out that Thongor is in a... helicopter? OK, it's some kind of magic helicopter, held up by the "complete weightlessness of its urlium armour". That's OK then. And now we meet the other passengers.

Carter likes his adjectives, and he likes to use them in pairs. Passenger #1 is exiled noble Karm Karvus, a "lean, handsome" young man with "smooth dark" hair and "keen, intelligent" eyes. #2 is the princess, and we get even more of her - her face is a "pale creamy oval", her eyes are enormous and dark, and resemble "wet black jewels"; her figure is "proud and rounded" and her clothes are, naturally, scanty. #3 is Thongor himself, and I'll give you his description in full.

"He was a great bronzed lion of a man, thewed like a savage god, naked save for the leather clout and bare trappings of a wandering mercenary swordsman. His tanned, expressionless face was majestic and stern beneath the rude mane of thick black hair that poured over his broad shoulders, held back from his brow by a leather band. At his side the steel length of a great Valkarthan longsword hung in its black leather scabbard, and a vast scarlet cloak swung from his shoulders, secured by a narrow gold chain about his throat. His lips were tight set but his strange golden eyes showed no trace of fear."

I'm always puzzled by these barbarian conventions of dress. Despite being in a profession that involves close proximity to big sharp objects, Thongor is only wearing some kind of leather loincloth... OK, maybe he's really poor and can't afford any more clothes... but then he's also draped himself in a fancy red velvet cloak with a gold chain, which is neither warm nor practical for swordfighting. Maybe we'll get an explanation of this later on, but I rather doubt it.

More later.

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That's how I like to dress for the BwB meetups. I like to model my life on Thongor. You should see my thews.

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I was never much of a Carter fan, but before you get to ripping on him too much, remember that he's among the pulp writers that started modern fantasy (especially low fantasy).

He and L. Spraque de Camp helped keep Conan alive, and for that he's worthy of at least one kudo.

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I'm always puzzled by these barbarian conventions of dress. Despite being in a profession that involves close proximity to big sharp objects, Thongor is only wearing some kind of leather loincloth... OK, maybe he's really poor and can't afford any more clothes... but then he's also draped himself in a fancy red velvet cloak with a gold chain, which is neither warm nor practical for swordfighting. Maybe we'll get an explanation of this later on, but I rather doubt it.

Honesty, if I was thewed like a savage god I'd be showing some skin as well.

Why Brak the Barbarian felt any need to show off his scrawny ass I'll never know though.

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Honesty, if I was thewed like a savage god I'd be showing some skin as well.

Why Brak the Barbarian felt any need to show off his scrawny ass I'll never know though.

:lol: Beautiful! :lol:

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But what's this? Just a few lines down the page, amid a colourful description of a thunderstorm, we find out that Thongor is in a... helicopter? OK, it's some kind of magic helicopter, held up by the "complete weightlessness of its urlium armour". That's OK then.

Barbarians in helicopters. That's a plot device that's definitely been underused.

I think urlium is an alloy of unobtanium ;)

I'm getting the impression that, unlike the Yeard and the Duke, Carter may not be particularly serious with his writing. I had a look at the Wikipedia article on Carter, he does sound entertaining considering pieces of trivia like:

According to Lin Carter, the guiding force behind the group, SAGA started out on an ad hoc basis, its main activities being to get together for drinks at science fiction conventions and bestow pompously complicated titles on each other (Michael Moorcock, for example, was styled "Veiled Thaumaturge of the Mauve Barbarians of Ningg").

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What the heck is "thew"? Is this even a real word?

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It's a real word, referring to muscular strength or to the muscles/sinews.

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Just as it's acceptable to howl at the B-films, I think pulp is fair game, even if their ultimate contribution to the field was may more than the sum of their collective works.

OK, back to the thews. A helicopter? Is this some psychic prequel to WoT?

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Am I the only one that read the title of this thread as "Thongor of Lemuria by Linda Carter", and thought to myself "what the hell is Wonder Woman doing writing a fantasy novel"?

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I like Lin Carter, he writes with a sense of humour. Plus, as someone already mentioned, he's one of the people who kept the genre alive. Pick up a copy of the SAGA anthology- Flashing Swords. Read the introduction he has written. Maybe you'll change your opinion of him.

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Ah, I have nothing against Lin Carter, I just went for the cheesiest book in the shop, and so far this hasn't disappointed.

So, our three heroes are still zooming along through the thunderstorm in their helicopter, which Carter distractingly refers to as a "floater". Thongor's a bit worried that they might be blown out over the ocean where he would have to battle the terrible larth, but his companions are happily sleeping. But oh no! The floater is struck by lightning! Thongor ventures outside (?) to check on their status...

Instantly he was drenched beneath the icy deluge of the rain, and the insubstantial fingers of the wind plucked t him with terrific force. But the iron strength of his barbarian thews held him firm, clinging to the rail.

He has some grim news.

"When Sharajsha the Wizard repaired this air boat, he told me something of the nature of the gravity-defying metal which Oolim Phon, the Alchemist of Thurdis, created. Its power to resist gravity is nullified by electric force, such as lightning"

Karm Karvus is optimistic:

"Let us pray to the Gods that before such time as the floater has completely descended into the Sea, the urlium will have regained the full anti-gravitic power with which the metal was originally imbued."

I'm not so hopeful. I reckon they're going to crash in the sea and Thongor will have to battle some beasts, with his mighty thews.

Ah yes - they're nearly in the sea now, and oh look, it's the dreaded larth. Apparently its entire life is one unending quest for food to fill that screaming gulf of hunger. It's your basic sea monster, with great big teeth and great big goggly eyes. All three of them stand forth to do battle with the beast, and Thongor has time for one last snog with the princess before the floater (tee hee) hits the sea. Splash!

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Well, if it's a floater, then it's definitely not going to sink to the bottom of the toilet ocean. This means they'll have a platform to stand on...and can thus engage in a glorious RPG-style boss battle! I can't wait to see what Thongor's limit break is.

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I can totally see the grin on carter's face when he wrote some of those sentences....

at least i hope, any other thought is just too scary to contemplate..

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:stunned::wideeyed::stunned::wideeyed: A "floater," thanks to "Thurdis." Oh my fucking god. I need to make my living writing shit like this. There can be no greater satisfaction. :bow:

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So if this a barbarian dude called Thongor, is he the inspiration behind all the bad fantasy artwork depicting burly blokes in g-strings?

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Well, I bet you've all been worried sick about the fate of Thongor after his floater plunged into the ocean. But never fear!

A lesser man would have released his sword and struck out in panic as the dragon-infested black waters closed over his head. But not Thongor! He clasped the steel blade between his jaws, freeing his hands, and swam up towards the surface.

It looks like he was the only one to end up in the drink. The floater is still bobbing about a bit further off, and his travelling companions are standing on the roof, battling with the larch larth. Does Thongor swim over to save them? Nay, nothing so prosaic. His powerful shoulders cleave the icy waves, as he hurls his body through the water. With his sword still in his mouth, of course. Now it's time to kill a sea monster!

It's been a few pages since we've heard about his thews, so it's time for some more.

Driven by the force of Thongor's iron thews, the giant blade sheared through horny scales and leathery skin - through tough muscle and cold, reptile flesh - through the very bone itself, severing the dragon's right forepaw.

Karm Karvus can't believe his eyes. He dashes off to take the controls, while Thongor braces himself for the monster's next attack. Even though he knows there's no chance to defeat a larth, he will go on fighting to the last spark of life in his "magnificent body".

It's all very tense. The floater can't go very fast, and the larth is gaining. But what's this? ANOTHER larth? It's attacking the first one.

Thongor takes this opportunity to pop indoors and get a kiss from the princess, then goes to watch the larth fight.

Never in his adventurous life had he seen such a sight.

Two pages of larth-fight, and it's all over - they kill each other, and sink down to the depths. It's all a bit too much for Princes Sumia:

Sumia collapsed sobbing on the cabin's small bunk, and Thongor gave her wine.

"Come, that is just like a woman! To weep and wail, now that the peril is past!" And she smiled though her tears at him, and then sunk back into an exhausted slumber.

I think Sumia may have narcolepsy - she also managed to sleep through the terrible thunderstorm that was buffetting their floater about earlier.

Now that the immediate danger is out of the way, Karm Karvus and Thongor have another problem - they are lost. Says Thongor:

"If the electric storm had not demagnetised the directional pendulum our friend Sharajsha the Wizard installed, we could read our direction, clouds or no clouds."

Always a practical man, Thongor solves this difficulty by having some food and going to sleep. During the night, the floater drifts towards an unknown jungle shore. The chapter ends with the two men dragging the floater ashore, and a sinister paragraph tells us that the gleaming red eyes and cruel jaws of a mysterious dark form are watching them approach. I'm going to stop here cos I have to do the washing up, but the next chapter is called "Attack of the Cannibal Trees", so it should be a good 'un...

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I'm going to stop here cos I have to do the washing up, but the next chapter is called "Attack of the Cannibal Trees", so it should be a good 'un...

Shouldn't you spoiler-tag that?

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