Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I've had a love/hate relationship with the epic fantasy genre for quite some time.  There are way too many million page rehashes of the Lord of the Rings are out there.  One time was enough!

Anyway, there are a few science fiction/fantasy epics that I like quite a bit.  Stephen King's Dark Tower is the first one that comes to mind.  I also like Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, Roger Zelazny's Amber (the five Corwn books, anyway), Michael Moorcock's Elric, Jack Vance's Dying Earth, Gene Wolf's Book of the New Sun, and Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers.  And the one I'm about to mention.

I can't remember what made me subscribe to Planet Stories.  I must have been in a pulp phase at the time.  The Planet Stories volume that really gripped me was The Walrus and the Warwolf by Hugh Cook.

"Who's Hugh Cook?" you ask.  He's one of those fantasy writers that didn't get much attention while he was alive.  His primary work was The Chronicles of an Age of Darkness, a ten volume fantasy series.  It's not a very tightly linked series.  The first five books all happen concurrently and can be read in any order.  I'm on the eighth book right now and enjoying it tremendously.  There's a damn werehamster in The Werewolf and the Wormlord for God's sake!

The Chronicles mix fantasy, advanced technology that's misunderstood by the general populace, general weirdness, and British humor.  They feel as if they're written with my admittedly peculiar tastes in mind.  None of characters conform to the usual fantasy stereotypes.  Nothing is black and white.  Most of his lead characters are more like regular joes than fantasy heroes.  Drake Douay from The Walrus and the Warwolf is a scoundrel who's just trying to get laid.  Alfric Danbrog is a banker.  Togura is a teenager trying to lose his virginity.  Cheggory Guy is a rock gardener who also feeds a giant crab a bucket of fish guts every day.  See what I mean?

As I've said, I'm nearing the end of the eighth book now.  I'm a little hesitant about reading the last two.  Once they're gone, they're gone.

For more information on Hugh Cook's Chronicles of an Age of Darkness, consult the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness Wiki.


  1. huh. Thos actually sound like a lot of fun. I may have to check them out

  2. I've heard of Hugh Cook for sure, not sure I have actually read him though.