15 January 2012

Sorcerer Klarkash-Ton

Over the past several months, I have had the pleasure of reading through a considerable number of the tales penned by the formidable Clark Ashton Smith. I started with the collection The Return of the Sorcerer, and subsequently moved on to The Tsathoggua Cycle (from Chaosium). After that, I simply printed up and read numerous stories from the wonderful 'Eldritch Dark' website.

I think that I've now read through all, or at least most, of Smith's Zothique, Hyperborea, Poseidonis, and Averoigne stories, as well as many others.

I have enjoyed thoroughly my exploration of Smith’s writings. He is an evocative and witty storyteller, clearly is the peer of his better-known contemporaries and fellow ‘pulp’ and ‘weird fiction’ authors, H. P. Lovecraft and R. E. Howard. Indeed, in many respects, I think that Smith is their superior. His stories possess a dark humour and whimsy that those of his contemporaries generally lack, or do not manifest in equal measure.

If you enjoy the tales of Howard and/or Lovecraft – or, perhaps more so, the fantasy fiction of Jack Vance – I strongly recommend that you check out the work of Clark Ashton Smith. ‘The Tale of Satampra Zeiros’ is probably as good a place as any to start one’s exploration.

(And thanks to Grognardia for keeping the eldritch flame of Klarkash-Ton so effulgent.)


  1. I couldn't agree more. Of the "big three" of Weird fiction, I personally think Smith was the superior writer. His command of language and atmosphere was staggering. (BTW, you will want to edit your title to "Klarkash-Ton")

  2. Whoops! Fixed. (I hate it when that happens...)

  3. couldn't agree more. Lovecraft's writing skill is childish when compared to Smith's.

    He only possesses "verbal black magic", as he said he was purposedly trying to achieve.
    Smith is superior to both HPL and Howard for the simple reason that he was a POET before being a writer of weird fiction, and remained a poet throughout his life (he wrote more than 700 poems).

  4. I also rate CAS as the technically superior of the three. He's my favourite of the Weird Trinity, even if he had a habit of sometimes letting his marvelous writing overwhelm the narrative (a fault Vance seems to have learned from him). That said, I insist that Satampra Zeiros is the spiritual forefather of all D&D characters, even if people would prefer it to be Kull.

  5. "I insist that Satampra Zeiros is the spiritual forefather of all D&D characters"

    Spot on!

  6. Oh yeah, in case anyone was wondering, the demonic dude is Tsathoggua himself (probably CAS's most well-known contribution to the 'Cthulhu Mythos').

  7. love CAS. finally started reading him during the middle of last year and have been absorbing everything. i have a special fondness for Averoigne which i am working on as a basic setting.

  8. Thank you for another awesome blog entry!

    I've just started exploring the works of CAS. His Hyperborea cycle is one of the most imaginative works of fantastical fiction I've ever come across.

  9. @ dave baymiller: Any chance you might be posting your work on Averoigne somewhere? :D

    @ Tony Reyes: Thanks!


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.