Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lord Dunsany's The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories

The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories is the influential third book by Irish fantasy writer Lord Dunsany, aka. Edward J. M. D. Plunkett. Dunsany's stories have been major influences on the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, Ursula LeGuin and many others writing fantasy today. This collection of stories was first published in hardcover by George Allen & Sons in October, 1908, and has been reprinted a number of times since.

Some of the short stories in this collection are linked by Dunsany's invented pantheon of deities who dwell in Pegāna, which were the focus of his earlier collections The Gods of Pegāna and Time and the Gods. One of the stories, "The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth," was afterwards (1910) published by itself as a separate book, a now very-rare "Art-and-Craft" style limited edition. A scene from "The Highwaymen" is very similar to a scene I'd written a few weeks back in one of my Proppian adventures.

To me Dunsany is a true master of the fantastic form. His collection, The Hashish Man has been a major influence on my writing and my own thinking about creating interesting characters in role playing games since I first read it back in 2000. This heightened imagination continues to inspire me to this day.

This collection is well worth finding at a used book store for $2 (thanks, Half Price Books!), but also available for free online at Project Gutenberg. Check it out for inspiration in your fantasy role playing games.

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