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The wizard of Lemuria by Lin Carter

The wizard of Lemuria (1965)

by Lin Carter

Other authors: Gray Morrow (Illustrator)

Series: Thongor (1)

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The revised version of 'The Wizard Of Lemuria' is little improvement over the 1965 version if indeed it is an improvement at all. Some of the 'new' passages appear to be simply restorations of material cut the the earlier incarnation. The result is a more leaden and over-written version of what was a fairly flawed effort in the first place. ( )
  schteve | Apr 16, 2018 |
Carter’s Thongor of Valkarth, a True Floater:

Lin Carter’s Thongor is a clonan, a “clone” of REH’s 1930’s barbarian “Conan.” Thongor has all the expected traits: a broadsword, hails from northern cold climates, disdains civilization, and wears a loincloth. In addition to Thongor, other notable clonans emerging ~1970 include John Jakes‘s Brak the Barbarian and Gardner F. Fox’s Kothar of the Magic Sword.

Lemuria, and Weird Fiction History Let us highlight the titular location: Lemuria is akin to Atlantis, being a lost continent mired in myth and history. It is not entirely fictional. In fact, many scientists in the 1800’s including Ernst Haeckel (famous Darwin supporter) claimed the Lemuria was a sunken continent off of Africa/India and hypothesized it was the origin of man’s evolution (rather than Africa). In short, Carter chose a land that was rich in history, but did not capitalize on this much. There are a few call outs to Hyperborea (ancient northern Europe essentially, another mystical land with “real” history ….Hyperborea being the key one that inspired weird fiction originals: Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith). H.P. Lovecraft was a pen pal with Howard and Smith, and championed his own flavor of horror which influenced REH’s adventures—Lin Carter had several Lovecraft call-outs as well. However, Carter fails to tap the potential of Lemuria’s rich history.

Editions, Covers, and Expectations: This reviews the 1969 second edition (Thongor and the Wizard of Lemuria), which expands the original 1965 (The Wizard of Lemuria) with an author’s foreword in which he reveals that the 2nd edition has a few thousand extra words—this is interesting since the novel is near novella length and still seems short. Paying tribute to a master (REH) is an honorable gesture; and this is admittedly Lin Carter’s first published work, so we do not expect his best. What should we expect? Let’s start with the covers. The original 1965 cover by Gray Morrow was more representative, featuring a dragon-like pterodactyl eating a spaceship. The 1969 edition has an arguably more attractive cover by Jeff Jones, which looks more Frazetta-like and promises more serious, dark fantasy than it does cheezy, sci-fi. Thongor is arguably a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, so either approach could work; upon reading, it is obvious we have been duped.

Floaters and ADHD Style: Moments of decent storytelling are interrupted by ambiguous self-parody: an air ship is quickly introduced and is unfortunately called a "floater", which brings to mind a type of low-density, egested waste. Since our uncivilized barbarian chances upon said floater, a unique prototype among all Lemuria, it is outright amazing that he can master the controls and fly away. But he does, and this nonsense is ever present and consistent. Our naked, loin-clothed hero is called “Thong”-or... I assume he is wearing a thong (he is characterized as being naked), but half way through, we suddenly learn Thongor is actually wearing “high boots” to protect himself from vile serpents. Wild disconnects are characteristic of the book.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a real disorder aptly named; it also suits the style of this book. One could easily argue Lin Carter had ADHD, and got a thrill of introducing, then instantly discarding, random goals/enemies. To wit: random wizard needs randomly found warrior and his randomly high-jacked floater to... guess what? …save the world in two weeks. Without this random confluence of events, the wizard would have not prepared to save it. WTH? Fortunate coincidence on every page attempts to mop up plot holes too big too fix; unlikely encounters bring shallow danger and instant reprieves. The faux drama is so over-the-top that each encounter deflates the previous. Hopelessly lost characters and magical weapons somehow always resurface…like low-density/high-fat poop (a.k.a. floaters).

Cinematic Clonans: Carter’s Thongor reads like poor fan fiction more than it does a unique tribute to the Sword & Sorcery genre. There are parallels between the written Conan-Clonan development and the cinematic evolution. Those of us who lived through the 1980’s were generally (a) impressed with the cinematic adaption of Conan The Barbarian (1982, with Arnold Schwarzenegger), and less impressed with the movie-clonans that followed that were shallow rip-offs. The worst of the worst of these was Deathstalker There is a stunningly hilarious and through review of the Deathstalker series on cinemassacre.com from 2010. It dissects the absurdity of the series, even going as far as to quantify the ratio of fight scenes to women's breasts shown per movie. These movies are terrible, like most clones. What is sad is that many of these had great covers by artist Boris Vallejo, which promised to deliver serious Sword & Sorcery. Great marketing I suppose, but reminiscent of this Thongor book disappointing delivery wrapped in a great oil painting. ( )
  SELindberg | May 26, 2015 |
What can one make of 'Thongor'?

It's no 'Conan'.
An hommage to Robert E. Howard's barbarian sagas perhaps? or maybe a parody?
I wasn't quite sure at first?

To begin with he hero's name sounds like a joke! 'Yes' he is wearing little more than a loincloth and his name is 'Thongor. There are also other examples of apparent puns which initially made me groan: early on Thongor battles a creature called a 'Dwark' (Dork?); and commands an air-boat referred to un-inspiringly as a 'floater'. I read on expecting lot's of lampooning of the whole Sword and Sorcery genre with a tongue-in-cheek attitude to the book; but, after a few more chapters the plot seemed to tighten up gradually drawing me into what emerged as a quest to forge a magical sword from various elemental sources from a pit of fire hidden in a sacred temple to a hilltop where lightening bolts fill the air. After the sword is lost and Thongor presumed killed, the two miraculously find each other, by divine providence presumably? Their goal: to prevent a dragon race from re-merging through the fabric of space-time and overthrow the dominance of man.

Some of the situations and coincidences used to carry the story forward do stretch the imagination a little too far, but if you are reading this type of novel you are almost prepared for that, so it is a little easier to overlook; but, this having been said it's not the best of it's class by any means.

A reasonable if not predictable tale of sword and sorcery. Worth reading only if you have a bit of spare time on your hands and nothing better to do. I happen to have all the books in my library already and so inevitably may end up reading the whole collection at some point, but I'm not going to make a point of it until it happens. ( )
  Sylak | Mar 29, 2010 |
Book 1 in the Thongor series. Followed by Thongor Of Lemuria.

The original version of the first Thongor book (and first published novel) by Lin Carter. A combination of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E Howard devices.

Despite having been extensively revised after Carter sought L Sprague de Camp's comments on the first draft, a lot of LVC's signature creaky plots holes and devices appear here for the first time.

A revised version 'Thongor And The Wizard Of Lemuria' appeared in 1970.

Although this is the first Carter novel published it was his seventh written. One of his unpublished efforts was "Space Family Robinson" which shared its concept with the TV series "Lost In Space". ( )
  schteve | Apr 22, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lin Carterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Morrow, GrayIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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To L. Sprague de Camp

for several good reasons. . .
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THONGOR OF VALKARTH ducked as the heavy wine goblet hurled harmlessly over his head, ringing against the wall and splattering cold wine over his face and naked chest.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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- mightiest warrior of the ancient continent of Lemuria, before the dawn of history - launches into his saga with this rousing adventure of swordplay and sorcery. the ancient dragon kings have deemed that the hour is  right to regain their dominance over Earth - and only Thongor and his companions, aided by the science and magic of the wizard Sharajsha, stand between mankind and hte night of doom!

This first novel in the pic of Thongor, originally titled "The Wizard of Lemuria", has been revised adn expanded by the author for this Berkley edition. Watch for more THONGOR adventures - on sale soon!
descended toward Sumia's breast, its forked blade unwavering in the claws of the Dragon King. In seconds, her beating heart would be torn from her body and hurled to the hovering Heart of Darkness above ...

Then, behind them, Thongor laughed.

A cold hissing began among the Dragon Kings as Thongor lifted into view the mighty Sword of Nemdeis - blazing with a sazzling, cleansing blue fire.

And, as he pointed it at the alter-disc, thunder cracked - and a jagged last of lightning arched from the star-sword to the blade in the Dragon King's claws!
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