Mention my name in Atlantis

(TLDR: A fun, quick read for fantasy fans.  Silly but not stupid.)

John Jakes is best known for his voluminous historical novels (North & South, The Kent family chronicles, etc.) but he was also a member of the “Swordsmen’s and Sorcerers Guild of America” — an informal group of writers including Fritz Lieber, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Andre Norton, Lin Carter, and L. Sprague De Camp, who lead the emergence of the swords & sorcery genre in the 1960s and 70s.  (S&S as a genre could certainly be traced back to the pulp fiction of the 1920s and 30s, and perhaps even before that to some of Lord Dunsany’s stories like “The Sword of Welleran,” but it was in the 60s and 70s that it really became a recognizable and recognized genre.)  Jakes created the character “Brak the Barbarian” as a sort of light-hearted homage to R.E. Howard’s “Conan,” but this short novel is more of a spoof of the whole S&S genre.

Cover of first edition, 1972

Cover art by Michael Whelan, itself a spoof of Frazetta’s cover for Conan the Adventurer.

Hoptor the Vinter, a smooth-talking Atlantean pimp and rogue, tells the story of how “Conax the Chimerical,” a northern barbarian-king, arrives in Atlantis and helps set in motion the chain of events that lead to the island kingdom’s destruction.  The story manages to be very entertaining despite the silliness.  Hoptor is constantly scheming and fast-talking everyone around him, while Conax embodies all the worst stereotypes of the barbarian swordsman, making them an unlikely but very funny duo.  Hoptor sees himself as an influence peddler and constantly advises his marks to mention his name when he sends them on errands or offers them favors, hence the book’s title. Conax pretty much nails how Conan might be depicted in a Flashman novel. The clash of cultures is enhanced by the introduction of the Zorophim, visitors from even further away than Conax!

At less than 150 pages, it reads very quickly, and the action takes on a break-neck pace at about the mid-point so it really feels even shorter than it is. There is quite a bit of violence, but Hoptor is generally too squeamish to give too many gory details. Still the novel can be pretty grim at times, with executions and battle imminent.

Any use for D&D? Well, the bronze-age island city-state of Atlantis is presented in fairly usable detail — much like Leiber’s Lankhmar, we get a general outline of some districts and streets, major landmarks, and the notable persons, so that you could pretty easily lift the whole thing. Hoptor makes a great NPC or an instructive model for players who haven’t got a handle on how to play a rogue in the mode of Cugel the Clever.


I’m not sure if it is really a ‘spoiler’ to mention the appearance of the Zorophim, saucer-flying aliens on a mission to find the ‘sacred fluid’ they need to fuel their technology, but they’d make a great addition to a gonzo campaign too.

Published in: on September 1, 2013 at 9:34 pm  Comments (3)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I read this when it was new. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn I think it was the best thing Jakes ever did–i wasn’t a fan of his American historical novels.

    • I haven’t read the historical novels, but I did like a Brak the barbarian story called “Storm in a bottle” (or something like that).

  2. This sounds like an interesting book. I might have to check it out. Great post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Tabletop games and adventures

Cigar Box Battle

An online resource blog for gamers and geeks focused on wargames miniatures and board games and role playing games

Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds

Hey Did You Know I Write Books

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut


Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.


Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.


An encyclopedia of the Cirsovan empire, thoughts on Gaming, Music and more.

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Inside the Shadowbox

Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides


A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer Archives

This site is no longer being updated. Check out the new site at

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time


Just another site

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"


gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead


Role-Playing Games, Medieval History, Assorted Legends and Myths, and My Stupid Life.

%d bloggers like this: