Friday, August 08, 2008
Friday’s Forgotten Book: Kyrik: Warlock, Warrior
Before I ever found Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard, I found books by other writers with words slashed across the cover that read: “In the Tradition of Conan.” This book, Kyrik: Warlock, Warrior by Gardner F. Fox, was my first sword and sorcery read. It had those words on the cover, but after I read it I might have thought Conan was “in the Tradition of Kyrik.”
Gardner Fox was a prolific writer in the paperback explosion of the 1960s and 70s, and also wrote a lot for the comics. He did two sword and sorcery series, The first, in the 1969-1970 period, was about Kothar, a barbarian swordsman very similar to Conan. There were 5 books in this series. The second series (4 books) was about Kyrik, in the 1975-1976 period. He also wrote a two book Sword & Planet series featuring earthman Alan Morgan on the planet of Llarn. These were written in the early 60s and were entitled Warrior of Llarn and Thief of Llarn, although “Thief” was the first one I found. Kyrik: Warlock, Warrior was the first in the Kyrik series, and besides that, two Kothars, and the one Llarn book, I never got copies of the others until I was in my thirties.
To start with, Kyrik: Warlock, Warrior had a great cover, at least for a fifteen-year-old boy. I’ve never been one to care much about book covers, but this one has always stuck with me. Painted by Ken Barr, you can see the exotic nature of it.
Intriguing as the cover was, it was the story that thrilled me. Years later, in my thirties, when I found and read the other Kyrik books, I didn’t think they were that well written or that interesting. But that first one! Oh, the adventure, the thrill. It began with a sorceress stalking an exotic bazaar in search of a legend. She finds it in the form of a statue, of a warrior named Kyrik, who has been dead 1000 years. It turns out that the statue is Kyrik, and the sorceress removes the spell that has kept him trapped in stone for ten centuries.
Fox captured very well the sense of immense past times and it was all heady stuff for a young fellow new to the glories of Sword & Sorcery. A fifteen-year-old now would have been exposed to this kind of stuff at a much younger age, but I was growing up in small town Arkansas, in the Bible-Belt. It was new to me. Just glimpsing that cover still ignites my imagination, and I’m almost fifty years old.
Kyrik: Warlock, Warrior is not that hard to come by. I’ve seen copies at used bookstores where SF/Fantasy is featured, and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can find it if you want it, though I doubt you’ll thrill quite as much as my young mind did in 1975.