Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The chapter "Attack of teh Cannibal Trees" starts with an excerpt from the "Song of the Beastmen", so I suspect it's not just trees we'll be seeing here. Anyway, the floater is now pulled up on the shore and starting to regain its anti-gravitic properties, but not enough to fly with, so Thongor decides to go hunting.
Now Thongor, his mighty hunting bow strung, was ready to find game.

"I still think I should accompany you," Karm Karvus said. Thongor shook his thick black mane.

"No. Remain here with the princess; do not leave her alone for any reason. I will return within the hour. I hunt better alone."

"And if you - do not return? If something happens?" Sumia asked, regarding him with large, frightened eyes. He smiled, and touched her small white hand with his powerful fingers.

"I will return," he said briefly, and without another word vanished silently into the jungle.


We now get a description of the jungle, and Thongor ponders on the various beasts he might encounter. These include the photh, the oph, the deodath, the dwark, the phondle and the zulphar. Phondles are what he's after, as they make good eating. He soon chances upon a waterhole, handily occupied by several phondles; with his mighty bow he shoots one of them through the heart. But what's this? As he stoops to recover his arrow, he comes face to face with the dreaded vandar! (it's a kind of lion). It's about to eat him, when (now this is a surprise), Thongor is felled from behind by a club!

Meanwhile, Sumia and Karm Karvus are wondering what's happened. Karm Karvus is happy to wait, but Sumia seems to have been replaced by a less wussy version of herself and is all ready to go Thongor-seeking.

Sumia was exasperated. No pampered child of a decadent culture, she came of a race only recently lifted from savagery to civilisation - and the veneer was thin. Her love was in danger - wounded, perhaps this moment facing death. Thoughts of her own safety were meaningless in such an hour.

She reached her decision. The man she loved was in need - she miust go to him. She sprang to her feet, ivory limbs gleaming through the rents in her costume. Catching up a jewelled dagger and a small poignard, Sumia turned on her heel and entered the jungle.

They roam through the jungle looking for the missing barbarian. Very soon they come to a clearing, containing what are evidently the cannibal trees. Despite their unsavoury appearance, Sumia decides to stop underneath them to rest. Naturally, the trees suddenly have tentacles, which grab Sumia and drag her towards the gaping maw in the top of the trunk, though Carter is surprisingly reticent about the tentacle-related detail that we manga afficionados have come to expect. Karm Karvus tries to hack her free with his sword, but he is also grabbed by a tree, and his sword falls from his hand.............

Bazz, looks like you were right. The trees aren't really cannibals at all.

ETA: I have to say, I'm rather enjoying this. It's pure gorgonzola but much more entertaining than any guff about Important Human Themes...

Monday, December 13, 2010

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...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

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!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Thongor of Lemuria - Lin Carter

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.

A revival (of sorts)

Yeah, I haven't posted for about a year and a half. While I enjoyed doing the reviews, it got to the point where it was too much like hard work and I wasn't finding it fun any more. However, since I already have this blog, I thought it might be nice to start using it again to archive some of my barbarian snark, which is otherwise at risk from messageboard purges. As with the Goodkind parodies, all this was first posted at westeros.org, but this time (quotations aside) this is all my own work.

Anyone who just can't wait for the next instalment can go read through the whole lot in one go (while the page is still there - be warned, I've been through several books already so there's a LOT of it), otherwise just stop by here and follow along in easily-digestible chunks...

Thongor of Lemuria - Lin Carter 

Thongor Fights the Pirates of Tarakus