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The Ship of Ishtar (Trade Paperback)

****( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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by A. Merritt, with an introduction by Tim Powers

War among the gods!

Amateur archaeologist John Kenton didn’t know what he expected when he broke open the stone block from Babylon, but it wasn’t to be hurled through time and space into an ageless conflict. On a golden ship in a strange dimension of endless sea, the goddess of love and vengeance lies locked in an eternal stalemate with the god of the underworld—and the coming of an outsider might just tip the balance once and for all. With the beautiful priestesses of Ishtar and the pale warriors of the Black God both seeking to bend him to their own ends, will Kenton become a slave of alien powers, or take up his sword and prove himself the true master of the Ship of Ishtar?

A major inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, A. Merritt remains one of the most celebrated fantasists of all time. This complete edition, introduced by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates), presents The Ship of Ishtar as it was meant to be read, with original illustrations by pulp legend Virgil Finlay—a classic not to be missed.

"The most remarkable presentation of the utterly alien and non-human that I have ever seen... [a] unique type of strangeness which no one else has been able to parallel."
    —H.P. Lovecraft

Introduction by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates, The Stress of Her Regard).

192-page softcover trade paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-177-0

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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Just Epic


A gripping, if dated, adventure

****( )

I really enjoyed this book, and loved the myriad details that obviously spawned now classical elements of the fantasy genre.

It took about a third of the book before I couldn't put it down, the shifting of the protagonist from the real world to that of the ship far too frequent for the adventure to grip me. But when it did, I was hooked, and finished the book in a single sitting from that point on.

My only real criticism of The Ship of Ishtar is that it is built around an antiquated misogyny that was unrelentingly distracting from what would otherwise be an exciting adventure. I recognize that the book was written over eighty years ago, but I was nevertheless pulled repeatedly out of the story by the overwhelming portrayal of the few female characters as vengeful, but ultimately submissive objects to be possessed by the dominant men. Merritt may have been a master at weaving descriptive prose and an intricate world of eclectic real-world myths and his own imaginings, but he was far from enlightened when it comes to gender. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Virgil Finaly illustrations this edition includes, bare breasts and all, so take the above for what it is.

In all, I recommend The Ship of Ishtar and had a great time reading it, despite the problematic elements it contains, which are less the fault of Merritt than they are the time in which he wrote.

***( )( )

One bigger ship, two gods.

A man unearths an ancient artifact, and a small ship is writ large, leaving him in a fantasy world embroiled in the conflict between deities of Love and Death.

The ship-dwellers are the former, and our hero's side. The black priest, unsurprisingly, is the latter.

In the beginning this fantasy novel is rather flowery, and may bring to mind, for example, H. P. Lovecraft's Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath.

Towards the end you get to the swordfighting and arrow shooting and blood, though, so the tone changes somewhat as the book progresses. Gift Certificates
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