Lost continents are a lot of fun, and have been used as the venue for sword & sorcery adventures since the the every beginning. Robert E. Howard’s Kull was an Atlantean barbarian, and Conan plied his trade after the sinking of Atlantis, and I really always had a soft spot for Henry Kuttner’s Elak of Atlantis, hero of a short series of stories I first read in the mid ’80s. And of course Lin Carter’s Thongor roamed Lemuria and environs, lands crowded with sorcerers, strange technology and dinosaurs.
In the recent evenings, I’ve had a lot of fun with Heroes of Atlantis & Lemuria, recently published by DMR Books.
The volume collects the five stories of Kardios of Atlantis, originally written by Manly Wade Wellman in the 1970s, and that we meet at the opening of the book as he’s washed ashore after Atlantis sank.
Kardios, lone (maybe) survivor of the lost continent, is actually the one that caused the sinking of Atlantis (or so he says), and he takes it from there, exploring the world beyond and generally getting into a whole lot of trouble. But nothing that swordplay, courage and a certain amount of cheekiness cannot defeat.
Despite his Atlantean origin, Kardios is no brooding Kull – reading these stories I was rather reminded of a more level-headed Cugel, a braggart that is also as good as he claims to be, or even more of certain Pusadian heroes penned by the late Lyon Sprague de Camp, that cannot but smirk in the face of danger (but are quick to get out of danger’s way).
Manly Wade Wellman is great at spinning short, fun yarns, and manages to be both powerful and elegant. The stories read like a breeze, and let us wanting for more.
And we are in luck… the volume is rounded up by three lemurian tales by Frederick Arnold Kummer, Jr – a screenwriter in 1920s Hollywood, a writer and painter, and a single story set in Lemuria.
Only one, yes, but written by Leigh Brackett – one of the best writers of the golden age of pulp, and an old favorite of mine.
The full index is as follows…
- Straggler From Atlantis by Manly Wade Wellman
- The Dweller in the Temple by Manly Wade Wellman
- The Guest of Dzinganji by Manly Wade Wellman
- The Seeker in the Fortress by Manly Wade Wellman
- The Edge of the World by Manly Wade Wellman
- Adventure in Lemuria by Frederick Arnold Kummer, Jr.
- Intrigue in Lemuria by Frederick Arnold Kummer, Jr.
- Volcano Slaves of Mu by Frederick Arnold Kummer, Jr.
- Lord of the Earthquake by Leigh Brackett
This is an excellent collection, filled with old-style swashbuckling adventure, strange monsters, beautiful women, and all you’d expect on a lost continent.