The Dark World – Henry Kuttner (QuikReview)

The Dark World – Henry Kuttner
The main way I knew of this book was as one of the stated inspirations for Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. It has similarities: the powerful, amnesiac protagonist; alternate worlds; sorcerers with mysterious and dreadful mystical powers; enchantresses and lycanthropes, woodsmen rebels, evil gods and the ancient sorcerers who know the secret ways.
However, the prose style itself isn’t particularly similar to Amber–if you are familiar with Zelazny’s work, it’s most similar to the early Dilvish, the Damned stories–Passage to Dilfar and The Bells of Shoredan in particular. Those were Zelazny’s homage to the genre, and damn good writing to boot. But, ahem, this is actually a novel by Henry Kuttner. Never mind. (I keep doing this on tours, too).
What about the prose style, then? Well, it’s really good prose.┬áIt’s taut, spare, vivid–a style that has been lost to modern writers. Why? How? I don’t know. It’s the voice of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard–arrogantly unselfaware, straightfoward, evocative without being flamboyant. There’s a sense of wonder, awe, peril, power–and fun–that never becomes pretentious or labored.
So. Thrill! As the scarred rebel meets his nemesis in single combat, laughing in the face of a wolf’s roars! Gasp! As the woman who loves Edward Bond succumbs to the kisses of–not Bond, but Ganelon! Shudder! As the hood is thrown back from the sorceress’ eldritch visage and those who have not the Crystal Mask are turned to living stone!
Good stuff.