Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sea Kings of Mars: A review of Leigh Brackett’s 1953 novel The Sword of Rhiannon

Blogger Deuce Richardson of The Cimmerian, a website and "shieldwall for Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Best in Heroic Fantasy, Horror, and Historical Adventure,” has written an insightful review of one of my favorite Martian science fiction/fantasy books: The Sword of Rhiannon (1953), a tomb-raiding and seafaring tale by the Queen of Space Opera, Leigh Brackett.

Noting the influence that Robert E. Howard had upon Leigh Brackett, Deuce Richardson concludes that “The Sword of Rhiannon is not Brackett’s ‘sword-and-planet’ masterwork. […] Leigh hadn’t been in the writing game quite a full decade when she penned The Sword of Rhiannon and was yet to come into her full powers as an author. That said, Brackett had obviously found her own voice at that point, assimilating her influences and staking out her queendom in the science-fantasy field. The Sword of Rhiannon moves at a relentless pace and is filled to the brim with plot-twists and reversals of fortune. [Matthew] Carse is a ‘damaged hero’ in the classic Brackett mold who hews and schemes his way across a gorgeously-imagined world. The Sword of Rhiannon was a milestone in Leigh Brackett’s career and is a novel well worth reading today.”

Pictured: Cover of Paizo Publishing's 2009 reprint of The Sword of Rhiannon.

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