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Although many have debated the finer points, the consensus characterizes it by a strong bias toward fast-paced, action-rich tales set within a quasi-mythical or fantastical framework. Unlike high fantasy, the stakes in sword and sorcery tend to be personal, the danger confined to the moment of telling. Many sword and sorcery tales have been turned into a lengthy series of adventures.

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Their lower stakes and less-than world-threatening dangers make this more plausible than a repetition of the perils of epic fantasy. So too does the nature of the heroes; most sword-and-sorcery protagonists , travellers by nature, find peace after adventure deathly dull. Eddison 's The Worm Ouroboros grieve for the end of the war and that they have no more foes equal to those they defeated; in answer to their prayers, the gods restore the enemy city so that they can fight the same war over again.

Sword and sorcery ultimately draws from mythology and classical epics such as Homer 's Odyssey , the Norse sagas and Arthurian legend. It is also influenced by historical fiction , for instance that of Sir Walter Scott which was influenced by Scottish folklore and ballads. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bedford-Jones , who all influenced Robert E. Merritt 's The Ship of Ishtar In addition, many early sword and sorcery writers, such as Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith , were heavily influenced by the Middle Eastern tales of the Arabian Nights , whose stories of magical monsters and evil sorcerers were a major influence on the genre-to-be.

Sword and sorcery's frequent depictions of smoky taverns and smelly back alleys draw upon the picaresque genre; for example, Rachel Bingham notes that Fritz Leiber 's city of Lankhmar bears considerable similarity to 16th century Seville as depicted in Cervantes ' tale Rinconete y Cortadillo.

Sword and sorcery proper only truly began in the pulp fantasy magazines, where it emerged from " weird fiction. The genre has been defined, strongly, by the work of Robert E. Howard, particularly his tales of Conan the Barbarian and Kull of Atlantis , mostly in Weird Tales from and respectively. Other pulp fantasy fiction—such as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series and Leigh Brackett 's Sea Kings of Mars —have a similar feel to sword and sorcery, but, because alien science replaces the supernatural, it is usually described as planetary romance or sword and planet , and considered to fall more in the area of science fiction.

From the s up till the s, under the guiding force of Lin Carter , a select group of writers formed the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America SAGA to promote and enlarge the sword and sorcery genre. From to , five anthologies featuring short works by SAGA members were published. Edited by Carter, these were collectively known as Flashing Swords!

Another notable sword and sorcery anthology series that ran from through was called " Swords Against Darkness " Zebra Books , edited by Andrew J. Despite such authors' best efforts, sword and sorcery has more colloquially come to be known as a catch-all phrase for low grade, derivative fantasy.

The term is sometimes used in a derogatory manner by writers and readers of the fantasy genre.


After the boom of the early s, sword and sorcery once again dropped out of favor, with epic fantasy largely taking its place in the fantasy genre. However, there was another resurgence in sword and sorcery at the end of the 20th century. Despite the importance of C.

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Moore, Leigh Brackett, Andre Norton , and other female authors, as well as Moore's early heroine, sword and sorcery has been characterized as having a strongly masculine bias. Female characters were generally distressed damsels to be rescued or protected, or otherwise served as an inducement or reward for a male hero's adventures. Women who had adventures of their own often did so to counter the threat of rape, or to gain revenge for same. Bradley encouraged female writers and protagonists. The stories feature skillful swordswomen and powerful sorceresses, working from a variety of motives.

Early sword and sorcery writer Robert E. Howard had feminist views, which he espoused in both personal and professional life. He wrote to his friends and associates defending the achievements and capabilities of women. Introduced as the co-star in a non-fantasy historical story by Howard, " The Shadow of the Vulture ", Red Sonya of Rogatino would later inspire a fantasy heroine named Red Sonja , who first appeared in the comic book series Conan the Barbarian written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith.

Red Sonja received her own comic book title and eventually a series of novels by David C.

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Smith and Richard L. Tierney , as well as Richard Fleischer 's film adaptation in The dictionary definition of sword and sorcery at Wiktionary. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the subgenre. For the line of role-playing products, see Sword and Sorcery Studios. Not to be confused with Sword and sandal , a genre of Italian costume adventure epic films. This section needs additional citations for verification.

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