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By C. L. Moore

Jirel of Joiry, the 1st of the nice lady warriors, the gorgeous commander of the most powerful fort within the country, could face any hazard to protect her liked state. She wielded her vibrant sword opposed to robust armies, the sinister magic of evil sorcerers and fearsome castles guarded via the lifeless, even bold to descend into Hell itself...Northwest Smith, the scarred and weathered outlaw, the mythical hero of the spaceways, compelled to confront the negative mysteries, the terrifying, mythic monsters of the universe...Jirel of Joiry and Northwest Smith are C.L. Moore's maximum creations and she or he used them not just to spin spellbinding stories but additionally to discover the mysteries of the human psyche.

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Example text

His eyes sought the eunuch's in mute inquiry. The creature came forward obsequiously, murmuring, “Permit me—” and flung the purple cloak he carried over Smith's shoulders. Its luxurious folds, faintly fragrant, swept about him like a caress. It covered him, tall as he was, to the very boot-soles. He drew back in faint distaste as the eunuch lifted his hands to fasten the jeweled clasp at his throat. “Please to draw up the hood also,” murmured the creature without apparent resentment, as Smith snapped the fastening himself.

Until he had a glimpse of that place where Vaudir's soul wallowed, and something sucked him down and down into a waking nightmare he could not fight. Then somehow the pull broke for an instant. For just that instant he stood again on the shore of the heaving sea and gripped a gun with nerveless fingers — then the darkness closed about him again, but a different, uneasy dark that had not quite the all-compelling power of that other nightmare — it left him strength enough to fight. And he fought, a desperate, moveless, soundless struggle in a black sea of horror, while worm-thoughts coiled through his straining mind and the clouds rolled and broke and rolled again about him.

Northwest Smith leant his head back against the warehouse wall and stared up into the black night-sky of Venus. The waterfront was very quiet tonight, very dangerous. He could hear no sound save the eternal, slap-slap of water against the piles, but he knew how much of danger and sudden death dwelt here voiceless in the breathing dark, and he may have been a little homesick as he stared up into the clouds that masked a green star hanging lovely on the horizon — Earth and home. And if he thought of that he must have grinned wryly to himself in the dark, for Northwest Smith had no home, and Earth would not have welcomed him very kindly just then.

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Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams (Fantasy Masterworks) by C. L. Moore


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