Thrust into a life full of woeful twists and turns, Jason Marshall has contended with the prehistoric customs and immeasurable power of the Goreans. His struggles on Gor, a planet resembling Earth, included escaping imprisonment, enslavement, and redeeming lost land. Jason has fought to regain control of his life. Having ascended to a position of power in the Gorean army, Jason must prevail in a battle that seems destined to destroy Gor. Jason has a lot riding on his success as a war leader: prestige, wealth, and an Earth girl of goddess-like beauty. Will Jason be able to win the war and avoid a fate worse than death? Rediscover this brilliantly imagined world where men are masters and women live to serve their every desire. Guardsman of Gor is the 16th book in the Gorean Saga, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
About the Author
John Norman, born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1931, is the creator of the Gorean Saga, the longest-running series of adventure novels in science fiction history. Starting in December 1966 with Tarnsman of Gor , the series was put on hold after its twenty-fifth installment, Magicians of Gor , in 1988, when DAW refused to publish its successor, Witness of Gor. After several unsuccessful attempts to find a trade publishing outlet, the series was brought back into print in 2001. Norman has also produced a separate science fiction series, the Telnarian Histories, plus two other fiction works ( Ghost Dance and Time Slave ), a nonfiction paperback ( Imaginative Sex ), and a collection of thirty short stories, entitled Norman Invasions. The Totems of Abydos was published in spring 2012. All of Norman’s work is available both in print and as ebooks. The Internet has proven to be a fertile ground for the imagination of Norman’s ever-growing fan base, and at Gor Chronicles (www.gorchronicles.com), a website specially created for his tremendous fan following, one may read everything there is to know about this unique fictional culture. Norman is married and has three children.
Read an Excerpt
Guardsman of Gor
The Gorean Saga: Book 16
By John Norman
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1981 John Norman
All rights reserved.
Ships of the Voskjard
Most Gorean ships have a concave bow, which descends gracefully into the water. Such a construction facilitates the placing of the ram-mount and ram.
I watched, fearfully, almost mesmerized, as the first of the gray galleys, emerging from the fog, moving swiftly, like a living thing, looming now, struck the chain.
Battle horns sounded about me. I heard them echoed in the distance, the sounds first taken up by the Mira and Talender.
There was a great sound, the hitting of the huge chain by the galley, a sound as of the striking of the chain, and then the grating sound, scraping and heavy, of the chain literally being lifted out of the water. I saw it, fascinated, black, dripping water, glistening, slide up the bow, splintering wood and tearing away paint. Then the whole galley, by its momentum, stopped by the chain, swung abeam. I saw oars snapping.
"The chain holds!" cried Callimachus, elatedly.
Another galley then struck the chain, off the port bow.
"It holds!" cried Callimachus. "It holds!"
I was aware of something moving past me. It was swift. I almost did not register it.
"Light the pitch!" called Callimachus. "Set the catapults! Unbind the javelins! Bowmen to your stations!"
I saw, amidships, opposite our galley, on the enemy vessel, two bowmen. They carried the short, stout ship's bow. They were some forty yards away.
I looked upon them, fascinated.
They seemed unreal. But they were the enemy.
"Down!" called Callimachus. "Protect yourself!"
I crouched behind the bulwarks. I heard again, twice, the slippage of air, sliding and divided, marked by what I now recognized was the passage of slender, flighted wood. One arrow struck into the stem castle behind me and to my left. The sound was firm, authoritative. The other arrow with a flash of sparks struck the mooring cleat on the bulwark to my right and glanced away into the water.
I heard the snap of bow strings on my own vessel, returning the fire.
"Hold your fire!" called Callimachus.
Lifting my head I saw the enemy galley back-oaring on the starboard side, and then, straightened, back-oaring from the chain.
Some fifty yards away I heard another galley strike at the chain.
A cheer drifted across the water. Again, it seemed, the chain had held.
Across the chain I heard signal horns.
Callimachus was now on the height of the stem castle. "Extinguish the pitch!" he called.
I tried to see through the fog. No longer did there seem enemy ships at the chain.
Callimachus, twenty feet above me, his hands on the stem-castle railing, peered out into the fog. "Steady!" he called to the two helmsmen, at the rudders. A sudden wind was pulling at the fog. I heard the rudders and rudder-mounts creak. The oar master set the oars outboard, into the water.
"Look!" cried Callimachus. He was pointing to starboard. The wind had torn open a wide rift in the vapors of the fog.
There was a cheer behind me. At the chain, settling back, its concave bow lifted fully from the water, its stern awash, was a pirate galley. Men were in the water. Beyond this ship, too, there was another pirate galley, crippled, listing.
"They will come again!" called Callimachus.
But this time I did not think they would attempt to so brazenly assault the chain.
This time, I speculated, they would attempt to cut it. In such a situation they must be prevented from doing so. They would have to be met at the chain.
"Rations for the men!" called Callimachus. "Eat a good breakfast, Lads," he called, "for there is work to be done this day!"
I resheathed then the sword. The Voskjard had not been able to break the chain.
It seemed to me then that we might keep him west of the chain. I was hungry.
* * *
"They are coming, Lads!" called Callimachus from the stem castle.
I went to the bow, to look. The fog now, in the eighth Ahn, had muchly dissipated. Only wisps of it hung still about the water.
"Light the pitch!" called Callimachus. "Be ready with the catapults! Bowmen to your stations!"
In a moment I smelled the smell of burning pitch. It contrasted strongly with the vast, organic smell of the river.
I could see several galleys, some two to three hundred yards away, approaching the chain.
I heard the creak of a catapult, being reset. The bowmen took up their positions behind their wicker blinds.
Here and there, on the deck, there were buckets of sand, and here and there, on ropes, some of water.
I heard the unwrapping and spilling of a sheaf of arrows, to be loose at hand behind one of the blinds. There are fifty arrows in each such sheaf.
A whetstone, somewhere, was moving patiently, repetitively, on the head of an ax.
I saw Callimachus lift his hand. Behind him an officer would relay his signal. On the steps of the stern castle, below the helm deck, the oar master would be watching. The oars were already outboard.
I doubted that any of the enemy galleys would be so foolish as to draw abeam of the chain.
I could not believe my eyes. Was it because the flag of Victoria flew on our stem-castle lines?
I saw the hand of Callimachus fall, almost like a knife. In an instant, the signals relayed, the Tina leaped forward.
It took less than an Ehn to reach the chain. The iron-shod ram slid, grating, over the chain and struck the enemy vessel amidships. The strakes of her hull splintered inward. Men screamed. I had been thrown from my feet in the impact. I heard more wood breaking as we back-oared from the vessel, the ram moving in the wound. I heard water rushing into the other vessel, a rapid, heavy sound. She was stove in. A heavy stone, from some catapult, struck down through the deck near me, fired doubtless from some other galley. A javelin, tarred and flaming, snapped from some springal, thudded into the stem castle. Arrows were exchanged. Then we had backed away, some seventy-five feet from the chain. Some men were clinging to the chain. I heard a man moaning, somewhere behind me. I snapped loose the javelin from the stem castle and threw it, still flaming, overboard.
Here and there, along the chain, we could see other galleys drawing abeam of it, and men, in small boats, with tools, cutting at the great links.
Again, in moments, the hand of Callimachus lifted, and again fell.
Once more the ram struck deep into the strakes of an enemy vessel.
Once more we drew back.
A clay globe, shattering, of burning pitch struck across our deck. Another fell hissing into the water off our starboard side. Our own catapults returned fire, with pitch and stones. We extinguished the fire with sand.
"They will lie to now," said Callimachus to the officer beside him. "We will be unable to reach them with the ram."
I could see, even as he spoke, several of the pirate vessels drawing back, abeam of the chain, but far enough behind it to prevent our ram from reaching them. Off our port bow we saw one of the pirate vessels slip beneath the muddy waters of the Vosk, a kill of the Mira.
Small boats again approached the chain.
We edged forward again. A raking of arrows hailed upon our deck, many bristling then, too, in the stem castle.
"Bowmen!" called Callimachus.
We spent a shower of arrows at the nearest longboat. Two men fell from the boat into the water. Other men dove free into the river, swimming back about the bow of the nearest pirate vessel.
"Do not let them near the chain!" called Callimachus to the bowmen.
We swung to port, to threaten another longboat. This one did not wait for us to approach, but withdrew behind the shelter of the nearest galley.
I watched the long, looping trajectory of a bowl of flaming pitch, trailing a streamer of smoke, near us, and then fall with a hissing splash into the water nearby.
"Save your fire. Steady!" called Callimachus. Then, later, he called, "Back oars!"
An occasional stone, or globe of pitch, was lofted towards us, but fell short.
Callimachus, with a glass of the builders, surveyed the chain.
"Look, Lads," called he. "See what small respect they have for you!"
I, and some others, went to the bow. Some five longboats were crossing the chain.
"Places, Lads!" laughed Callimachus.
I had no station, so I remained in the bow. The others, mostly oarsmen, returned to the benches, and the stern.
The men in the longboats carried swords and grapnels. Did they truly think to engage us? Our galley, like most of Gorean construction, was low and shallow drafted, but still its bulwarks would loom above the gunnels of a simple longboat.
The Tina knifed toward the chain. We rode over the first longboat, shattering it, its bow and stern snapping upward, its crew screaming and leaping into the water. Another was fouled in the oars of our starboard side and capsized. The other three fled back toward the chain.
I saw then that their action had been diversionary, to occupy us while other longboats, fixed with wicker shields, of the sort used for naval bowmen, lay along the chain. Behind those shields, like shapes and shadows, distinguishable behind the wicker, men tore with saws at the chain.
The diversion, though, had been too brief.
Once again the Tina approached the chain, swinging about now, broadside to the chain.
"Fire!" cried Callimachus.
Arrows lanced into the heavy wicker but, though several pierced it by a foot, they did little damage. The shafts were caught in the heavy wicker. Too, now, from the pirates' galleys, protecting their longboats, there sped a fierce counterfire. The wicker shields of our own archers were now bristling with feathers and wood.
A heavy stone broke away the railing of the stern castle of the Tina.
"Closer! Closer!" called Callimachus.
I heard the hiss and snap of our catapults, the twisted ropes snapping loose. When the largest one fired I could feel the reaction in the deck boards beneath my feet.
Flaming pitch was flung at close quarters. Arrows traversed the air in swift menace.
An arm suddenly appeared over the bulwark. Then a man, wet, scrambled aboard. I met him with the sword and, grappling, kicking, I forced him back overboard.
Burning pitch spattering and exploding out of a clay vessel skidded across the deck.
I could hear battle horns to port and starboard.
Not more than a dozen feet away I could see a pirate longboat behind the chain, protected by wicker shields.
Stones and pitch, at point-blank range, pounded and exploded between ships.
I could see, clearly, the eyes of pirates, no more than a few feet away, we separated from them by the chain, and a few feet of water.
A man rose from behind the bulwarks of the enemy vessel, bow in hand.
Then he was reeling back, an arrow in his chest.
I heard the chain scraping at the side of the Tina, then the shearing blade on our starboard side, swinging to starboard, struck the wood of a longboat. We slid along the chain, then, the oars on our starboard side striking loose the wicker shielding of another longboat, too close to the chain, and spilling men into the water.
I saw pirates, on the galley opposite, shaking their fists at us.
But the Tina, the chain cleared, was now swinging about. There was the wreckage of two longboats in the water. Half submerged, a wicker shield floated behind the chain.
I heard men behind me extinguishing the flames on the Tina.
"Back oars," called Callimachus. And the Tina backed away again from the chain, her bow facing it.
The pirate vessels, too, had withdrawn from the chain. It was near the tenth Ahn, the Gorean noon.
Callimachus descended from the stem castle, leaving his officer at that post. He took some water in his helmet and, using it as a basin, splashed his face with it.
"We have held them at the chain," I said to Callimachus. He wiped his face with a towel, handed to him by a fellow.
"For the time," he said.
"Do you think the Voskjard will now withdraw?" I asked.
"No," he said. He handed back the towel to the fellow who had given it to him.
"What will we do now?" I asked.
"Rest," he said.
"When do you think the Voskjard will try again?" I asked.
"What do you think?" he asked.
"Tonight," I said.
"Of course," he said.CHAPTER 2
Slowly, in the darkness, the Tina prowled the chain. The sound of the oars, softly entering the water, drawing and lifting, was almost inaudible.
"They are out there, somewhere," said Callimachus.
"Still?" I asked.
"Of course," he said.
Two ship's lanterns, suspended on poles, thrust over the bow, to port and starboard, cast pools of yellow light on the water. In the light of the starboard lantern, here and there, where the chain was visible above the water, as it was between certain pylons, we could see the dark links; generally, however, it was invisible, concealed by the surface.
"Quiet," said Callimachus. "Hold!" he called, softly, back to the oar master, who stood now behind the stem castle. The oars of the Tina lifted and slid partly inboard. The ship, with its momentum, drifted forward, south along the chain. We heard the chain grate then, on the hull, below the starboard shearing blade.
"What did you hear?" I asked.
We looked over the side, at the chain, suspended some six inches here above the water, and at the water, flickering in the lantern's light. "They were here," said Callimachus. "I am sure of it. Do not enter the light."
I drew back.
"It is hopeless," he said, dismally. "They may come and go as they please, withdrawing at our approach."
"There is little we can do about it," I said.
"Extinguish the lanterns," said Callimachus. "Wait! Bucklers and swords! Bucklers and swords, Lads!"
Almost at the instant that he had spoken grappling irons looped over the bulwarks and snapped back, the points anchoring in the wood. We saw tension in the irons as men climbed the ropes secured to them. But they were met, as dark shapes at the bulwarks, screaming and cursing, by fierce defenders, thrusting them back with bucklers, darting steel into their bodies. They were emerging from longboats and must climb up and over the bulwarks; they could not, bulwark to bulwark, leap to our deck; the advantages were fully ours; only one reached the deck, and we threw his lifeless body, thrust through in a dozen places, back into the Vosk, after its retreating fellows.
Callimachus wiped his sword on his cloak. "Additional insult have they done to us," he grinned. "Do they think we are an undefended merchantman, to assail us so boldly, so foolishly?"
"As you slew a man," I said, "you cried out with pleasure."
"Did I?" asked Callimachus.
"Yes," I said.
"When you, too, drove your blade into the body of a man, I thought you, too, cried out with pleasure," said Callimachus.
"I could not have done so," I said.
"You did," grinned Callimachus.
"I do not recall it," I said.
"In the press of battle," said Callimachus, "it is sometimes hard to be aware of all that transpires."
"You seem exhilarated," I said.
"I am," said he, "and so, too, seem you."
"No," I said, uncertainly, "it cannot be."
"But it is," said Callimachus.
"I do not think I know myself," I said.
"You are a man," said Callimachus. "Perhaps it is time that you made your own acquaintance."
"We were as fierce as they," I said, wonderingly, "as swift, as vicious."
"It would seem so," smiled Callimachus.
I was silent.
"Do you fear to look upon the hunter, and the killer, in yourself?" he asked.
I did not speak.
He clapped me on the shoulders. "We have now, I suspect," said he, "taught the men of Ragnar Voskjard some respect for honest men."
"Yes," I said, "let us think of it in such terms."
"Do you not wonder, sometimes," asked he, "why honest men, honest folk, such as ourselves, permit pirates, and such, to exist."
"Why?" I asked.
"That we may have someone to kill," he said.
"Are we so different from them, then?" I asked.
"I do not think so," said Callimachus. "We have much in common with them."
"What?" I asked.
"That we are men," said Callimachus.
"It is not the killing," I said, "for executions would not suffice."
"No," said Callimachus, "it is the sport, and the risk, and the killing."
"One must fight for causes," I said.
"Causes exist," said Callimachus, "that men may fight."
"I am troubled," I said.
"Extinguish the lanterns," said Callimachus to a fellow. "The pirates may still be about."
"Let us put down the longboat," I said to Callimachus. "With muffled oars we may patrol our sector of the chain."
"Why would you do this?" he asked.
Excerpted from Guardsman of Gor by John Norman. Copyright © 1981 John Norman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The last three books involving Jason Marshal are a great divergence from the main meta-story. It gives an interesting insight to the rest of the Gorean civilization. The development of Jason's character, which in the beginning was so wussy it made me physically ill is fun to watch.