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Infernal Sorceress (Trade Paperback)

***½( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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by Gary Gygax, with an introduction by Erik Mona

Gygax's Final Fantasy!

Action abounds in this new, never-before-published novel from the author who redefined a genre!

The underworld of the Iberian Peninsula is a dangerous place, filled with cutthroats and swindlers, and no pair is more infamous than the gaunt man known as Ferret and the broad-shouldered mercenary Raker. Yet when the swashbuckling comrades are framed for the one crime they didn’t commit, the scoundrels are faced with a choice: bring the true culprits to justice, or dance a gallows jig. In order to do so, they’ll need to pull out all their tricks, stretching magic and muscle to their limit as they invade castles, battle subterranean monsters, and bluff their way through courts of nobles and shape-shifters in their search for revenge. Yet can even this canny, ruthless duo prevail against the beautiful witch that plots their downfall?

The father of fantasy roleplaying and the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax has had more influence on modern fantasy than any author since J. R. R. Tolkien. Now, in the last novel written before his death, dive into Gygax’s lavishly imagined version of medieval Europe and discover a sword-swinging romp of high adventure and loose morals.

“A pioneer of the imagination.” —The New York Times

“One of America’s most talented writers.” —The Guardian

Infernal Sorceress takes place on Aerth, a fantastic planet informed by Earth in the Dark Ages and medieval period. It's also the setting for Gygax's novels The Anubis Murders and The Samarkand Solution, also available from Planet Stories.

264-page softcover trade paperback
ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-117-6

About the Author

In 1974, Gary Gygax (1938–2008) co-created the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, forever changing the face of fantasy. The hand-assembled first print run of 1000 boxed rulesets sold out in nine months, and by 1978 the game’s explosion in popularity warranted a three-volume harcover rules expansion called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons authored by Gygax. The release of AD&D coincided with the explosive popularity that catapulted the game into a true cultural phenomenon, introducing fantasy to a generation of new readers. D&D’s literary roots drew upon the sword and sorcery work of authors like Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, and Robert E. Howard, and by the mid-1980s D&D’s publisher, TSR, began to release their own line of fantasy fiction.

Thus was born Gord the Rogue, Gygax’s rakish, metropolitan thief whose daring adventures span seven novels: Saga of Old City, Artifact of Evil, Sea of Death, City of Hawks, Night Arrant, Come Endless Darkness, and Dance of Demons. Years later he introduced a new character, the crime-solving Ægyptian wizard-priest Magister Setne Inhetep, in a trilogy of novels: The Anubis Murders, The Samarkand Solution, and Death in Delhi.

Gygax's importance to American popular culture was solidified with an animated cameo alongside Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, and Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols in a 2000 episode of Futurama.

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

***½( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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Exciting and fun adventure done in by myth-making

**( )( )( )

Nobody who wasn't overenthusiastic would claim that E. Gary Gygax was a great writer when it came to fiction, but he could tell a heck of a story, and my own affection for the setting of this tale sharply inclines me in its favor. I would normally be inclined to give this book 4 stars ...

... but Erik Mona's introduction ruins it. According to a letter from Mr. Gygax, he submitted this to TSR Books only to have it rejected by a sneering author as a rip off of Fritz Leiber, condemning it (and its world) to the waste-basket of history. Terrible, isn't it?

And then you read the dialogue.

"'Great,' muttered Raker. 'Just f---in' splendid!'"

If Mr. Gygax submitted such a profanity-strewn manuscript to TSR in the early 90s, he could not seriously have expected its publication. It almost suggests someone who was trying to burn his bridges! And claims that he was rejected take the tone of one trying to build up one's myth of the lone genius brought down by lesser minds even in his dying days.

Sad, really. It's a pretty good book.

Initial impressions

****( )

I purchased a copy of this yesterday at my FLGS, and I am still going through it in detail, but my initial impression is of a pair of larger-than-life protagonists snared in a web of complex political intrigue. It feels that it shouldn't work as a story, but the writing is sufficiently good that so far it does anyway.

This review will be updated later, but four stars for now.

Update (Tuesday, 20th April, 2010):
It gets a bit wordy at times, with at least one rather long piece of description of what a castle looks like as the two main characters enter it (there are several castles for them to be described entering, by various means), and some rather convoluted conversations. Nevertheless the two main protagonists do by and large carry the story successfully, there is the political intrigue mystery going on, and an engaging villainess who sort of disappears from the screen in a slightly disappointing manner; maybe she was originally intended to be back in a later book, but sadly that is unlikely to be coming now...
Some rough edges, but definitely worth four stars.

An RPG Resource Review


Being rather fond of the short-lived Dangerous Journeys game, it was quite magical to see it come to life as a pair of rogues attempted to save their own skins and puzzle out a rather thin plot against a nation to whom they owed no loyalty. The plot and the villains were a bit lacking, but the setting and characterisation of both the 'heroes' and the ordinary people they met along the way more than made up for it.

Not at ALL like Fafhrd and Gray Mouser...

***( )( )

So despite Gygax's protestations that his book was nothing like Leiber's famuos duo I couldn't help but think of Fafhrd and the Mouser the entire time I was reading it. That, and what 1e Monster Manual artwork of ferretfolk would look like.
Not that, that is entirely a bad thing. Planet Stories gives us another novel of Aerth based around Gygax's briefly lived Dangerous Journeys RPG.
His duo of swordsman, Ferret and Raker are, despite the shadow of Leiber, an amusing pair. Their banter and rivalries give colour and it is always nice to have adventurers be adventurers. That is rakish, uncouth, not entirely honourable and rather self-serving. These guys aren't out to defeat some dark lord. Do the job, get the reward, exact revenge and move on.
Gygax paces the novel well. Neva, the villain is certainly the book's weakpoint as she serves as a poor foil and comes across as pretty two dimensional.
Gygax's spanish influenced setting gives the book some needed novelty though beyond name dropping and a few touches Gygax doesn't use it to its full extent. And alas there is no spanish swordsman called Inigo looking for a six fingered man.
Overall a light enjoyable read of sword swinging with some derring-do and a dash of intrigue. It's still a cut well above most rpg fiction. Gift Certificates
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