Saturday, October 04, 2008

Black God's Kiss

I finally got around to finishing another book from the WorldCon stack. It was slow going, this one.

Black God's Kiss collects the Jirel of Joiry short stories written by C.L. Moore for Weird Tales in the 30's. Jirel was the first sword-and-sorcery heroine, so her stories have a special place in the hearts of fans of the genre.

That said, I had a hard time getting through the book. It isn't badly written, at least not according to the standards of the pulps Moore was writing for. The style is a little overblown at times, but there is a lot of imagination at work here, with moments that come alive quite vividly. And Jirel is an interesting character, as interesting as a character can be in stories that very deliberately avoid character exploration.

No, the thing that held me back was that Jirel is a swordswoman who rarely uses her sword, a fighter who rarely fights. Not that she's some Zen master just wishing for a little peace and quiet or anything. No, she's fiercely eager to run through whomever she can.

The problem is that every story pits her against magical powers she can't fight with a sword, in an alien landscape she can barely comprehend (and often can't even see-she wanders through darkness a lot of the time). The stories read more like Lovecraft's Dream tales than Howard's Conan stories. Jirel wanders through places she doesn't know with properties she doesn't understand and encounters creatures she's never seen before. It gets kind of tiring after a couple hundred pages. I picked up the book expecting action and never really got it.

That being said, I like the look of Paizo Publishing's Planet Stories line, and the concept of republishing stories from the heyday of the pulps. I'll probably end up picking some of their other titles.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I had much the same reaction to the Jirel stories, though I still really enjoyed them. That looks like a beautiful edition.

Although I have that True Love's Kiss song from Enchanted in my head now. "Iiiiii've been dreaming of the black god's kiss, aaaand the San check I hope comes with iiit!"