Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New To Me: Harold Lamb

I had several goals in mind when thinking about books I wanted to read for Appendix N.

1. Books I already own. I have some serious collector issues going on. I own more books than I've actually read. In Chicago, there is a wide variety of methods of getting books for very little cash thanks to an over abundance of book fairs and other events. Mind you, I haven't gone to any of these in quite some time, but Half Priced books, library sales, Science Fiction Club blow outs and other things keep the books coming in at a pace greater than I've read. I've tried to curb this, no, I've tried to stop this completely as I live in a small apartment and it's overflowing with paper but so far no complete luck. It's how I wound up reading the Crown of Stars series by Kate Elliot. The Sci-Fi club had a booksale on one of her series in a bundle and I snagged it where it sat on the shelf for many years.

2. Books of the New: This isn't quite accurate. For example, Steven Brust. I've read some of his material. His work isn't quite as old as say, Robert E. Howard or Michael Moorcock. I've heard good things about it. Karen Miller, Brent Weeks, and Joe Abercrombie are also authors I've heard positive reviews of and they are on the list.

3. Books of the Old: Part of this was inspired by seeing Paizo reprint Planet Stories, as well as other reprints, like Doc Savage, coming back into vogue again. Part of it was seeing authors like Charles Saunders with an older book, Imaro, with a different menu than typical sword and sorcery. In that vein, I picked up Harold Lamb's Wolf of the Steppes, volume one of the Complete Coassack Adventures. To me, these older books act as a lense through which one can view some of the ground work of the role playing games origin point. These books have far less to do with a lot of how games are designed these days that are not deliberate 'retro clones', for example, Exalted, but they do showcase how a genre came into being from myth and legend and historical action adventure tales to its own thing.

Harold Lamb's book is good stuff. While there are no overt elements of the supernatural in it, and it does suffer a bit from the time in which it was written, Harold Lamb does a great job of providing life to an era not often explored in the venues I normally read. I'll be posting more about Wolf of the Steppes but thought that for those looking for 'old school', to see some of the authors that influenced Robert E. Howard and others of his time, you can't go wrong looking at Harold Lamb.