Sword & Sorcery Authors
This page of my blog will highlight S&S authors. A brief description of the author’s style and/or characters will be followed by links to any books available on Amazon. These are affiliate links; if you add the book to your cart and make the purchase within 24 hours, I will get 3% of the sale (of all items in your cart at that time). This does not cost you extra, the price is the same, it is a commission of sorts. So if you are going to buy anything expensive from Amazon, please do it after adding one of these titles to your cart! Thanks!!
This list is a work in progress; more authors will be added over time, and a little more detail will be added about existing authors. Most of these are well-known, however, so there is little need to delve deeply here.
Clifford Ball: One of the first to take up the mantle of Sword & Sorcery in Weird Tales after Robert E. Howard’s death, Ball’s stories were a little rough but they filled a need at the time. They are light, fun reads in the pulp tradition.
Leigh Brackett: Actually she wrote Sword and Planet, in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs, rather than “pure” Swords & Sorcery. She wrote in a hard-boiled style, with prose both terse and beautiful. Most of her heroes were cut from the same cloth, and Eric John Stark is among the greatest characters in the genre.
Not much of her work is in hard print right now, sadly. You can find some used. Here is a kindle version of the three Stark stories from the pulps:
Here are some great books of hers. As I said, not in print, but still available through Amazon:
I love the Haffner Press collections of her works. This was the last one, where her writing was really at its peak:
Lin Carter: His greatest work in the S&S field was as an editor, in particular the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. But he was prolific writer. Most of his works were in series, and the hewed close to the influences. His Thongor series was fairly standard but had some decent parts, and it was ubiquitous in the ’70’s.
Here is the first in the series in kindle (I believe almost all of his work is out of print now):
Gardner Fox: Known more for his comics work (like with Hawkman) to modern audiences, he wrote quite a bit of Sword & Sorcery. The first issue of Dragon Magazine I got had a story of his in it featuring Niall of the Far Travels (those stories are uncollected, as far as I know). Kothar and Kyrik were his earlier creations in the field. Kyrik was supposedly a wizard as well as a warrior, but he would occasionally forget this during the stories.
The Kothar stories were recently reprinted. Here is a link to the first (of five):
Robert E Howard: The greatest of the authors, with his iconic character Conan. There is a pacing and vitality to his stories that are unique in the genre. Kull and Solomon Kane are also pillars of Sword & Sorcery.
Paperback of the first (of three) collection of stories:
The second collection:
The final Conan collection:
John Jakes: He became very successful with his Kent Family novels of American history. Before that, he several stories and novels about the blonde barbarian Brak. They are all long out of print now, but I remember they were popular when I was growing up. They are easily available on kindle.
The kindle editions:
The paperbacks are pretty common, but their prices vary greatly by vendor. This is the first one, with an awesome Frazetta cover:
Henry Kuttner: A prolific writer, and one of the first to publish S&S stories in Weird Tales after Robert E. Howard’s death. The most prominent of these heroes was Elak of Atlantis.
Out of print, of course, like his wife C.L. Moore’s stories, but here is a kindle version with the four Elak stories:
This paperback put out by Paizo is no longer in print, but is a nice edition. It also contains the two Prince Rynor stories:
Tanith Lee: A prolific writer with a distinct style. Most of her work was in different genres, but I read this book and, while it was strange and the characters moved as if pre-destined, liked it a lot. I have yet to read the following books; more to look forward to!
Fritz Leiber: Perhaps the most literate of the authors. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are the quintessential duo. The stories span a gamut from humorous to dark and moody.
This is the first collection of stories, introducing the twain individually and in their first meeting:
This is the second collection, featuring some of the earliest stories (the ones in the first volume were written later):
The third collection, with the classic “Lean Times in Lankhmar”:
It does not appear that the other 4 volumes are currently in print; they are worth tracking down, save the last one that I am not fond of.
Michael Moorcock: Elric and his soul-stealing sword Stormbringer are his most well-known creation, but he is but one facet of his eternal hero concept.
These seem to be the most recent editions of the Elric saga:
There are more in the series, and in print, but it has been re-ordered with a few new additions and I am uncertain what the current chronology is. The above two should be the first in the series, and a good place to start.
C. L. Moore: Her character Jirel of Joiry was the first heroine to lead her own S&S series. The writing is darkly beautiful. From the first time she descends into the underworld on a mission of vengeance, you know from the horrific landscape there is no turning back!
Sadly, like so many others on here, most of her work is not in print and Jirel is no exception. But here is a kindle version, if that is your weapon of choice:
Charles Saunders: S&S set in Prehistoric Africa! Now this is its own genre, Sword & Soul. I first read an Imaro story in Lin Carter’s old anthology of the Year’s Best Fantasy, where he was defending the series from ridiculous charges of being about a “chocolate-covered Conan.”
The first collection:
The third is The Trail of Bohu, but it is not currently in print. There is also Imaro: The Naama War, published in 2010. I do not have these last two yet.
Clark Ashton Smith: The greatest of the wordsmiths. His stories were more weird sorcery than swordplay, but their imagination is unparalleled. He wrote of several fantastic worlds, most of them different ages of our own earth. My favorite are the Zothique stories, set at the end of our world.
There is an excellent collection of his stories in five volumes in print. This is the first:
And the second:
The third is out of print, evidently, but here is the kindle if you inclined:
The fourth and fifth volumes:
Karl Edward Wagner: Kane is perhaps my favorite of all Sword & Sorcery characters, as he embodies both of those central concepts. He is considered evil on initial assessment, but the weight of his millennia of existence has given him a unique and weary perspective on morality.
Currently, it does not appear that any of the Kane stories are available in print, but there are kindle versions. However, they have been edited, from what I understand, watering down the impact of passages and whole stories. So I will not link to them.
Here are the Nightshade editions, out of print but still available through Amazon. They could have been better edited – too many typos – but they are nice editions: