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The Bleak Heath: Thurvok, #5

The Bleak Heath: Thurvok, #5

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The Bleak Heath: Thurvok, #5

67 Seiten
48 Minuten
17. Apr. 2019


Thurvok the sellsword and his companions Meldom, thief and occasional assassin, and the sorceress Sharenna are fleeing across the Bleak Heath after saving Meldom's childhood sweetheart Lysha from the gallows. Weary and exhausted, they are relieved to come upon a hut on the heath. But what they find inside that hut may well be more dangerous than the heath itself.

This is a novelette of 10500 words or approx.. 35 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

17. Apr. 2019

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The Bleak Heath - Richard Blakemore


by Cora Buhlert


Nowadays, pulp fiction writer Richard Blakemore (1900 — 1994) is best remembered for creating the Silencer, a masked vigilante in the vein of the Shadow or the Spider, during the hero pulp boom of the 1930s.

Furthermore, Richard Blakemore is also remembered, because he may or may not have been the real life Silencer, who stalked the streets of Depression era New York City by night, fighting crime, protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty just like his pulp counterpart.

The mystery surrounding the Silencer has long overshadowed Richard Blakemore’s other works. For like most pulp writers, Blakemore was extremely prolific and wrote dozens of stories in a variety of genres for Levonsky Publishing. Blakemore’s work spans the wide range of the pulps, from crime stories via westerns, war and adventure stories via romance to science fiction and fantasy. Indeed, the sheer amount of stories Richard Blakemore wrote during the 1930s refutes the theory that he was the Silencer, for when would he have found the time?

Of the many non-Silencer stories Richard Blakemore wrote, the most interesting is probably a series of heroic fantasy adventures that Blakemore penned between 1936 and 1939, making him one of the pioneers of the genre now known as sword and sorcery.

Richard Blakemore was a big fan of Weird Tales and particularly admired the work of Robert E. Howard and C.L. Moore. And so, when Jakob Levonsky started up his own Weird Tales competitor called Tales of the Bizarre, Blakemore immediately jumped at the chance to write for the magazine and created Thurvok, a warrior hero in the mould of Conan, Kull and Bran Mak Morn.

Thurvok first appeared in the story The Valley of the Man Vultures in the very first issue of Tales of the Bizarre in 1936. He started out as a lone adventurer, but quickly gained a companion in Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, whom he encountered towards the end of The Valley of the Man Vultures. Not long thereafter, the duo of adventurers became a quartet with the addition of Sharenna, a formidable sorceress, and Lysha, Meldom’s childhood sweetheart.

The Bleak Heath is the first story that features the quartet of adventurers that would form the main cast of the Thurvok stories for the duration of the series. The story begins where the previous adventure The Forest of the Hanged left off with our heroes on the run after saving Lysha from execution at the hand of the villainous Rhadur. They are forced to cross the titular Bleak Heath, a wasteland that may or may not be cursed and infested with monsters and black magic. And since this is a Thurvok story, our quartet of course promptly find themselves in danger once again.

In most stories of the series, the various evils encountered by our heroic quartet tend to be of the impersonal sort. Thurvok and his companions spend a lot of time fighting monsters and black magic and dealing with such distant antagonists as the priest kings of Khon Orzad or the city conquering Rhadur. The Bleak Heath is different in this regard, because its antagonist is a lot more human than usual with a motivation that is at least understandable, if misguided. Which does not mean that the antagonist does not pose a grave danger to our heroic quartet.

The two female main characters of the series, Sharenna and Lysha, were initially introduced as damsels in distress, to be rescued by Thurvok and Meldom. The Bleak Heath reverses this dynamic and puts Thurvok and Meldom in danger, leaving it up to Sharenna and Lysha to rescue them. It is also notable that from The Bleak Heath on, all Thurvok stories pass what is now known as the Bechdel test, almost fifty years before the test was introduced.

Richard Blakemore’s crime stories, including the Silencer series, often featured ripped from the headlines plots and indeed we know that Blakemore based many of these tales upon news stories of the day, particularly those involving the real life Silencer.

However, little is known about how

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