The fourth of five volumes collecting the complete stories of renowned “weird fiction” author Clark Ashton Smith.
“None strikes the note of cosmic horror as well as Clark Ashton Smith. In sheer daemonic strangeness and fertility of conception, Smith is perhaps unexcelled by any other writer.” H. P. Lovecraft
Clark Ashton Smith, considered one of the greatest contributors to seminal pulp magazines such as Weird Tales, helped define and shape “weird fiction” in the early twentieth century, alongside contemporaries H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, drawing upon his background in poetry to convey an unparalleled richness of imagination and expression in his stories of the bizarre and fantastical.
The Collected Fantasies series presents all of Smith’s fiction chronologically. Authorized by the author’s estate and endorsed by Arkham House, the stories in this series are accompanied by detailed background notes from editors Scott Connors and Ron Hilger, who in preparation for this collection meticulously compared original manuscripts, various typescripts, published editions, and Smith’s own notes and letters. Their efforts have resulted in the most definitive and complete collection of the author’s work to date.
The Maze of the Enchanter is the fourth of five volumes collecting all of Clark Ashton Smith’s tales of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. It includes all of his stories from "The Mandrakes" (1932) to "The Flower-Women" (1933), and an introduction by Gahan Wilson.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Clark Ashton Smith was what is often called a Renaissance Man. He was born in Auburn, California, January 13th, 1893, in a small cabin. Today, he would have been treated with drugs, and there would probably have been no chance that these stories would have reached us, Due to psychological reasons, he only attended 8 years of grammar school, and never graduated from high school or went to college. However, he became a self learner, teaching himself French and Spanish. He had a photographic memory, and was a prodigious reader. He became at turns a poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. He was a long time correspondent, friend and literary colleague of H. P. Lovecraft, from 1922 until Lovecraft's death in 1937. He is largely remembered for the stories he wrote, as he was one of the most famous contributors to the pulp magazine Weird Tales. Night Shade Books (http://www.nightshadebooks.com/) is a San Francisco based specialty publisher of horror. This is the fourth in a series of five volume set. This collection will be the definitive chronological texts of Smith's fantasy, science fiction, and horror, as edited by the sure hands of Scott Connors and Ron Hilger, with the use of Smith's own notes, manuscripts, and letters. This set has been endorsed by Arkham House and authorized by Smith's estate. It is very nice set, well bound cream colored paper, with maroon covers. The dust jackets are well executed, to the point that I actually left them on. The set looks great on the shelf, are substantial and comfortable in your hand, all in all nice to read. Clark died on August 14th, 1961, and his writings are well known to a circle of followers and fans. But they deserve a wider audience, and example of a time when brilliance was carved in pulp paper. See the wonderful site at http://www.eldritchdark.com/, then go and buy this set for your collection.
Clark Ashton Smith is undergoing something of a revival these days. As well as an amateur artist who even illustrated some of his stories for Weird Tales, he was also a superb poet of the fantastic. (The Last Oblivion: Best Fantastic Poetry of Clark Ashton Smith is an affordable, excellent introduction to that side of his talent.)And, of course, there are the stories. Smith was not as good a writer as poet, but he could still be very good. This series collects his stories in the order Smith wrote them with the editors working very hard to present Smith's preferred versions and alternate versions as well as Smith's opinion of those stories as well as that of his famous friends, H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth. This volume's stories were written in 1932 and 1933 and have Smith working in the many universes he had already established or writing sequels to his popular past stories. In all cases, the stories stand alone even when part of a series.Smith's greatest and most influential creation, the decadent, magical, grotesque far future of Zothique, Earth's last continent, is the setting for many stories here. Showing the influence of Smith's idol Edgar Poe at several points, "The Isle of the Torturers" has a king and fellow sparse survivors of a plague ending up on said island, a place given to the sadistic pleasure of all kinds of torture. "The Charnel God" has a young nobleman braving the temple of Mordiggian to rescue his dead wife from its priests. (She only seems dead, more shades of Poe.). "The Dark Eidolon" is Smith at the top of his form with a sorcerer determined to avenge an injury he suffered, when still a beggar boy and not Zothique's most feared man, at the hands of a future emperor. And there's a god who has his own ideas of justice. A poetic, dark tale of two unpleasant men marred only by a misstep in final imagery. "The Voyage of King Euvoran", obsessively undertaken to recover a royal symbol and right a slight, ends up in a satisfying, wry conclusion. "The Weaver in the Vaults" has three soldiers sent on a mission to recover a royal mummy so it can be ground up for magical potions. They encounter a strange, vampiric creature underneath a city "where Death has made his capital".There are further entries in the French medieval world of Averoigne. "The Mandrakes" has wedded sorcerers selling illegal love potions - and being murderously unhappy in their own marriage. "The Beast of Averoigne" is an effective werewolf story. "The Disinternment of Venus" pits erotic pagan magic against Christian chastity at a monastery.The magical prehistoric Earth of Hyperborea is the setting of two stories. "The White Sibyl" is a prose-poem about the obsession of the poet Tortha for the titular woman who foretells the glaciers about to engulf the city of Cerngoth. The fate of a doomed expedition to stop those glaciers and a plot to loot its remains is the subject of "The Ice-Demon"."The Maze of the Enchanter" introduces the bored magician Maal Dweb. Here a barbarian tries to rescue his lover from Maad Dweb's clutches. Wry insouciance mixed with decadence. Still oppressed by ennui, Dweb decides to live dangerously and rescue "The Flower-Women" with only the powers of his novice days.As evidenced by its title, "The Third Episode of Vathek: The Story of the Princess Zulkaïs and the Prince Kalilah" finishes off a fragment from William Beckford's Vathek; An Arabian Tale, the first Arabian fantasy. I didn't remember Beckford being so entertaining. Smith added about 4,000 words to Beckford's 14,000.Horror and science fiction mix in the last two installments of Smith's Ahai aka Mars series. "The Dweller in the Gulf" has a trio from Earth encountering a nasty leftover from the past in a cavern. Effective horror despite some clumsy dialogue and exposition. "Vulthoom" is the most minor of the Ahai series but still, for Smith, a fairly successful science fiction story. Some earthmen discover a plot to invade and subjugate Earth via an alien dru