Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Goblin Tower - L. Spring de Camp

The Goblin Tower by L. Spring de Camp is a good book. It was written over 40 years ago, in 1968. I found the stylistic changes that have taken place in fantasy over the last 40 years rather interesting. On the one hand, the book could easily compete with modern fantasy. The characters were strong, the narrative was compelling and the setting was rich and detailed. The plot was also rather interesting, and I have to admit I haven’t seen it replicated since. Jorian is a mercenary who is accidentally selected to be the king of Xylar. This might not normally be a problem except for the fact that the king of Xylar is killed every five years. Jorian wisely made a deal with a wizard to get him out of the deal, but in return he was forced to steal a spellbook in a distant land. The thing I found most interesting, however, was the similarity it had with fiction that was written in much earlier times, at the turn of the 20th century. Jorian was a master story teller, and the plot of the book routinely came to a screeching halt as Jorian told tales of his native kingdom, usually to get out of a tight situation. As such, the book had the unusual mix of a modern high fantasy novel meets Arabian nights; complete with the obligatory (but short) nod to the real world when he uses Earth to take a short cut between worlds. I recommend it, though primarily to those who, like me, have fairly eclectic tastes. Those who prefer more mainstream or post modern fantasy may not like it.

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