“Zingazar” by Lin Carter

The short review would be:

Zingazar:The sword of Welleran::Terry Brooks:Tolkien

The longer review is:

This story is somewhat amusing, and I’d think it very clever if I’d never read the original story by Lord Dunsany.  I came across the story in the compilation New worlds for old, edited by Lin Carter, who very humbly included only two of his own stories (the other authors featured each get only one story or poem… Clark Ashton Smith, Edgar Allen Poe, R. E. Howard, Lord Dunsany, George MacDonald, Oscar Wilde, Mervyn Peake, C.L. Moore, George Sterling … you get the idea).  Someone commented once that Carter is a much better editor than writer and this really makes me understand why they’d say that. New worlds for old has a lot of great stuff, some of it very unusual or obscure, and most of it it well worth reading.  (I skipped the poems, though.)

Carter’s story “Zingazar” basically steals the plot, and even some of the style, of Dunsany, and creates a story that is reasonably competent but so derivative that I have to ask, why would someone bother to even write this?  Carter changes the story a bit, of course (spoilers ahead!).  Instead of the ghosts of heroes alerting a once-mighty but sleeping city to an immanent invasion, we have the actual weapons and armor of heroes alerting a once-mighty but sleeping city to an immanent invasion. No, seriously.  Rather bizarrely, one of the items — a shield — is described as being of bronze that “is old and eaten by time.”  I was under the impression that bronze does not really corrode, and that archaeologists keep digging up bronze items from 2000+ years ago because once the outer crust of oxide forms, the rest of the bronze is undamaged by time and elements.  So stuff like that kind of irks me.  I don’t mind the somewhat silly image of a succession of spears, helmets, bows, etc. shattering themselves in order to make noise and awaken the curator of the museum/mausoleum they are housed in, but time-eaten bronze just doesn’t make any sense.

There is also a nice passage about a nearby forest dreaming about overrunning the city with its roots and obliterating it.

Overall, though, just … meh.  Not  such a waste of time that I regret reading it, but bad enough that it’s completely forgettable.

Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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