Warlocks and Warriors, Edited by Douglas Hill. Mayflower Books, 1971, 159 pages.
I own and have read just about every anthology of heroic fantasy published in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. But I didn’t have this one up until July of 2016, and I wouldn’t have gotten it then if not for a webpage list put out by the writer G. W. Thomas called “A Reader’s Guide to Sword & SorceryAnthologies.” Thanks to him for the heads up.
I guess I missed this book until now for two primary reasons. One, it was published only in England as near as I can tell. Second, there is another book entitled Warlocks and Warriors, which was published in 1970 by Berkley in the US. That probably helped me overlook this one. In addition, the cover is remarkably ugly compared to the cover of the other collection, which I've pasted below.
The 1970s Warlocks and Warriors was edited by L. Sprague De Camp, who did quite a few anthologies around this time while he was also busy editing and rewriting Robert E. Howard’s Conan tales. It’s certainly a good collection, and quite varied, with stories by Ray Capella, Lin Carter, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Fritz Leiber, C. L. Moore, Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith, H. G. Wells, and Roger Zelazny. I’ve already reviewed this book on Goodreads, however so I won’t say more about it here.
The 1971 Warlocks and Warriors was edited by Douglas Hill, whose name I was not familiar with until after I posted this on Goodreads, whereupon a short biography of Hill appeared on my page. That was rather cool, and revealed to me that he also wrote stuff under the name Martin Hillman, who is included in this anthology. After a short and to the point introduction by Hill, the following stories appeared:
“The Sleeping Sorceress” by Michael Moorcock.
“The Curse of the Monolith” by Lin Carter and L. Sprague De Camp.
The Ogyr of the Snows” by Martin Hillman.
“The Wages Lost by Winning,” by John Brunner.
“The Wreck of the Kissing Bitch” by Keith Roberts.
“The Unholy Grail,” by Fritz Leiber.
I’d read “The Sleeping Sorceress” before. This is an early Elric story by Moorcock and is quite good. I’d also read “The Curse of the Monolith,” which is a Conan pastiche by Carter and De Camp. Not quite Howard’s Conan but it was an OK tale. I also had previously read “The Unholy Grail” by Leiber. This tale recounts the earliest adventure of the Gray Mouser, of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser fame. Not my favorite of the series, probably because I like the Fafhrd character better than the Mouser character.
What were new to me were the tales by Hillman, Brunner, and Roberts, and all three were quite good. Brunner, I know, of course. I’ve read a lot of his SF. This is a story of the “Traveller in Black,” definitely fantasy though not sword and sorcery. The “Traveller” is a kind of mixed angel/devil character, who has the power to grant people’s desires. I’d not previously read these tales. It was beautifully written but meandered a bit initially until it got to the main plot.
Martin Hillman’s “The Ogyr of the Snows” is definitely sword and sorcery, and a well written piece. The hero is Conanesque but it’s to be noted in this tale that he wins the day mostly by wit. According to the introduction, this tale was extracted from a “novel in progress” by Hillman, and I would certainly be interested in reading it. I've found since this post went up originally that Hillman was actually the editor, Douglas Hill, and he has written quite a few books. I'm trying to track down now which of these might feature the character of "Ogyr."
The greatest treasure in this collection to my way of thinking, though, is “The Wreck of the Kissing Bitch” by Keith Roberts. This is a tale set in the world created by Michael Moorcock for his Ice Schooner book. The world was already beautifully conceived and Roberts does a fine job of playing in the same universe. This was my favorite tale in the collection, concluding with a tense and exciting chase scene of sailed ships across the great ice seas. It sure made me want to go write some heroic fantasy.