The Novarian Series Essay - Critical Essays

L. Sprague de Camp


The publication of the first book in the series in 1968 marked L. Sprague de Camp’s return to writing book-length fantasy. After the book publication of The Tritonian Ring (1953), he devoted many years to other projects, including historical novels, such as An Elephant for Aristotle (1958), The Bronze God of Rhodes (1960), The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate (1961), and The Arrows of Hercules (1965). He also produced major nonfiction works, such as Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature (1954), The Ancient Engineers (1963), Ancient Ruins and Archaeology (1964), and The Story of Science in America (1967). In addition, there are Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, some of which de Camp edited for hardcover publication in the 1950’s and more of which he edited for paperback publication in the 1960’s.

Interest in fantasy resurged in the 1960’s as a result of the success in paperback of stories by J. R. R. Tolkien and Howard. This allowed de Camp to return to a type of writing he enjoyed while continuing to pursue his interest in aspects of history, particularly the varieties of human culture and the development of technology.

The Novarian series is in the tradition of the Conan stories but it is different in many ways that are characteristic of de Camp’s writing. The tone of the stories is bright and humorous rather than dark and...

(The entire section is 540 words.)