Another Frazetta Painting Up for Auction

Heritage Auction Galleries is handling the consignment of a Frazetta painting that is probably well-known to most Sword-and-Sorcery art devotees. Here’s the description from the website:

Warrior with Ball and Chain, Flashing Swords #1, paperback cover, 1973

Oil on board

23 x 19 in.

Signed lower right

This stirring, savage, and superb Frazetta masterwork, sometimes titled Warrior with Ball and Chain, first appeared on the cover of the sword and sorcery anthology edited by Lin Carter, Flashing Swords #1, Dell Books #2640, 1973.

One of the top Frazetta paintings in private hands, Warrior with Ball and Chain was purchased in the February 1993 Guernsey’s auction, and according to its listing there, is one of the largest Frazetta covers ever painted. Some aficionados feel his piece may have been originally created for the Lancer Conan series of the late sixties, but not used there, since the Conan figures of two of the Lancer covers are so similar to the Warrior.

A copy of the Flashing Swords #1 paperback is included with this lot.

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Remembering Poul Anderson



Poul Anderson would be eighty-three years old today. That means I’ve been reading his fiction for about thirty years now. The realization of that would be even more twinge-inducing if I didn’t constantly remind myself that I was anderson-vault-schomburga mere thirteen years old when I started.

My love for Poul’s writing began when I bought a first-edition copy (1952) of Vault of the Ages from the Oswego Public Library (the same institution from whence I purchased my first Harold Lamb and Merritt books). Alex Schomburg dustjacket/endpapers and everything. All for one shiny quarter (the library ended up rebuying the book in paperback). The second (or first?) Anderson novel ever published.

“Vault” was a pretty good introduction to Poul Anderson for a thirteen year-old. The book was written for the “Young Adult” market, with a certain proportion of the sermonizing that genre usually requires. On the plus side, Poul based his novel around a post-apocalytic setting, provided numerous great combat/battle scenes and featured “northern barbarians” as sympathetic antagonists whose narrative purpose was to give a stagnant culture a shot in the arm.

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Maliszewski and “The Books That Founded D&D”


James Maliszewski, the proprietor of Grognardia and a Friend of The Cimmerian, has posted an article on The Escapist website. It is called “The Books That Founded D&D” and I found it quite interesting. I thought it worth some commentary.

Mr. Maliszewski starts his essay noting the various reasons why J.R.R. Tolkien should be dismissed as major influence upon the role-playing game that Gygax and Arneson developed. Most of the evidence used to back this up is cited from Gygax’s own writings. The fact that these writings date from before and after the threatened lawsuit by Tolkien Enterprises means very little, in my view.

Tolkien deeply influenced Dungeons and Dragons. That is my humble opinion and I stand by it. The Elves as portrayed in D&D would be far different if JRRT had never written his novel, The Lord of the Rings. The same for D&D dwarves. Double ditto for “orcs,” which species (with that particular appellation) would never exist, but for Tollers. Triple ditto for the “halflings” in the game (whom I always considered ridiculous, in game terms). All of that, however, is fodder for another blog entry. Now, let’s get to all the stuff that James Maliszkewski and I do agree on (more or less)…

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An Early, Albeit Pagan, Christmas in the Old North

During the weapon’s dark nativity the clangor of coerced swordsmith-toil masked the muttering of murder-curses:

Sigrlami was the name of a king who ruled over Gardaríki; his daughter was Eyfura, most beautiful of all women. This king had obtained from dwarfs the sword called Tyrfing, the keenest of all blades; every time it was drawn a light shone from it like a ray of the sun. It could never be held unsheathed without being the death of a man, and it had always to be sheathed with blood still warm upon it. There was no living thing, neither man nor beast, that could live to see another day if it were wounded by Tyrfing, whether the wound were big or little; never had it failed in a stroke or been stayed before it plunged into the earth, and the man who bore it in battle would always be victorious, if blows were struck with it. This sword is renowned in all the ancient tales.

That’s the introduction of Tyrfing in Saga Heidreks Konungs ins Vitra, The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise, translated, introduced, annotated, and backstopped with appendices by none other than Christopher Tolkien back in 1960, when he was a Lecturer in Old English at Oxford’s New College. Nor is this ominous glaive’s renown limited to ancient tales; let’s join Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword already in progress, as the eyeless, dragonskin-aproned Jötun-smith Bolverk is tasked to reforge “the banes of heroes,” which has been snapped in two by Thor himself:

Bolverk’s hands fumbled over the pieces. “Aye, ” he breathed,” Well I remember this blade. Me it was whose help Dyrin and Dvalin besought, when they must make such a sword as this to ransom themselves from Svafrlami but would also have it be their revenge on him. We forged ice and death and storm into it, mighty runes and spells, a living will to harm.” He grinned. “Many warriors have owned this sword, because it brings victory. Naught is there on which it does not bite, nor does it ever grow dull of edge. Venom is in the steel, and wounds it gives cannot be healed by leechcraft or magic or prayer. Yet this is the curse on it: that every time it is drawn it must drink blood, and in the end, somehow, it will be the bane of him who wields it.”

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After Aquilonia and Having Left Lankhmar: Sword-and-Sorcery Since the 1980s

[When Howard Andrew Jones writes about sword-and-sorcery and the desirability of “putting a new edge on an old blade,” it behooves those of us as protective of the subgenre as he is to pay attention, and perhaps pay him the compliment of trying to put our own thoughts in order. To that end, and with a bemused glance at a June 22 post by Gary Romeo, who never loses an opportunity to generalize about Howard purists even if he did lose the chance to celebrate the centennial of his nearest and dearest, I’m rolling out the following article, originally written in 2006 for an anthology that apparently could not be more snake-bitten were it to traipse barefoot through Stygia]

The subgenre of modern fantasy with which Robert E. Howard is nearly synonymous died down in the mid-1980s but did not die out. Far from it; sword-and-sorcery proved to be as difficult to kill as many of its protagonists. But before we can celebrate Howard’s legacy by following the subgenre’s fortunes for the last several decades, we need to establish what we mean by sword-and-sorcery. For starters, what is meant at least for the purposes of this article is an approach to heroic fantasy that became aware of itself when Howard decisively expanded on the promise and premise of Lord Dunsany’s 1908 story “The Fortress Unvanquishable Save for Sacnoth” with “The Shadow Kingdom” in 1929.

The verb “expanded” is chosen with no disrespect whatsoever intended toward Dunsany’s story; it is possible that during his much-debated involvement with sword-and-sorcery, L. Sprague de Camp never did the subgenre more of a favor than when he selected “The Fortress” for his anthology The Fantastic Swordsmen (1967).

(Here, on the other hand, Leo argues that the only place for poor old “Sacnoth” in an S & S muscle car is: the ejector seat)

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