The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In “The Empire of the Necromancers” (1932), two magicians conjure themselves an empire out of the dust of the ages and the corpses of the ancient dead, but their despotic rule leads to bloody rebellion by their subjects. The eponymous hero of “The Voyage of King Euvoran” (1933) offends a necromancer and is punished by the loss of his remarkable crown, which is carried away by the fabulous bird whose feathers topped it. Misled by an apparently favorable oracle, the king goes in quest of his lost crown but finds instead a peculiarly apt humiliation.

In “Xeethra” (1934), a goat-boy strays into the underworld of the dark god Thasaidon, where he eats a magical fruit that makes him conscious of a former existence as a king. He finds his kingdom desolate and sells his soul in order to enter a dream in which its lost glory is restored to him, agreeing to surrender it if ever he regrets his estate. When Thasaidon contrives to seduce the all-important moment of regret, the anguish of his loss becomes his hell.

In “The Dark Eidolon” (1935), a necromancer defies his supernatural protector in order to carry forward his vendetta against a king who abused him in his youth. The story reaches its destructive climax in a literal feast of horrors.

In “Necromancy in Naat” (1936), the sole survivor of a shipwreck, a prince who has been searching for his lost love, is pressed into the service of a family of necromancers. He is...

(The entire section is 403 words.)