The so-called ebook revolution has brought back a number of genres and formats that for a few decades had been marginalized to say the least.
The short form is back – novelettes and novellas, novels in the 40.000-words standard of the paperbacks of old.
Pulp is making a big comeback, in all its assorted flavors – from hero pulps to adventure cliffhangers to sword & sorcery.
And for a fantasy reader, the return of sword & sorcery – the small-scale, proletarian, none-too-heroic kind of fantasy that normally involves rogues trying to save their own skin, not champions trying to save the world – is a much welcome event.
I’m currently reading – and very much enjoying – Dariel R.A. Quiogue’s Swords of the Four Winds, a highly satisfying collection of sword & sorcery stories set in the East.
The ebook lines up eleven stories which remind me of the classic Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock tales which I read as a kid, with a dash of Karl Edward Wagner to spice the lot.
Quiogue’s adventurers are tough, competent and ruthless, with that shard of nobility that is both their redeeming feature and the reason why they get involved in so many adventures.
The stories have it all – dark sorcery, huge battles, duels, escapes, beautiful women in need of help, ancient cities and strange legends coming alive.
The Oriental setting is a welcome change from the somewhat standardized psaeudo-European venues offered by many authors.
Quiogue has learned the lessons of Harold Lamb, and learned them well.
I can only hope for more tales in the future, continuing the adventures of these characters into these fascinating realms.
Dariel Quiogue calls his own flavor of sword & sorcery, so heavily influenced by the Silk Road, Sword & Silk; a tag which recalls both Charles Saunders’ Sword & Soul and Howard Andrew Jones’ Sword & Sand.
I certainly hope that the tag catches and – just like Saunders’ Sword & Soul, it will attract other autors, and develop into a full catalog of stories.
Quiogue’s creations set a very high standard, but also offer no end of inspirations.
And as my own characters travel slowly East, towards the Silk Road and beyond, I find in Swords of the Four Winds a standard to which I myself will have to confront, and strive to reach.
It’s a hard challenge, but it’s part of the fun.