Arena of Antares

Arena of Antares is a science fiction novel by British writer Kenneth Bulmer, written under the pseudonym of Alan Burt Akers; it is the seventh volume in his Dray Prescot series of sword and planet novels, set on the fictional world of Kregen, a planet of the Antares star system in the constellation of Scorpio. It was first published by DAW Books in 1974.

The Dray Prescot series is made of several cycles of novels, each cycle essentially forming a series within the series. In addition to being the seventh volume in the series as a whole, Arena of Antares is also the second of six volumes in the Havilfar Cycle. It is set on the fictional continent of Havilfar.

The 52 completed novels of the Dray Prescot series were written by Bulmer between 1972 and 1997, when a stroke stopped his writing, also the later Dray Prescot books, after 1988, were originally only published in German. The series is in the spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars series.[1]

Arena of Antares
Arena of Antares
First edition cover
AuthorKenneth Bulmer
Cover artistJack Gaughan
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SeriesDray Prescot series
GenreSword and planet
Published1974
PublisherDAW Books
Media typePrint (Paperback)
ISBN0879971452
Preceded byManhounds of Antares 
Followed byFliers of Antares 

Plot summary

The book follows on directly from the events of Manhounds of Antares. Prescot returns to Yamman, commanded to do so by the Star Lords, narrowly escaping a number of Canop galleys on the river. The companions are saved by an attack of Volrok, a race of flying men, on the galleys. With the help of Turko, Prescot frees the twin-brother of Mog and starts to train the Miglas as soldiers. Overconfident, the Miglas attack against Prescots wishes and force a battle the Canops ultimately win.

Upon returning to the rebel Migla camp he instructs them to continue training and, with Turko by his side, takes their flying boat to Valka and raises an army to come to the support of the Miglas. Delia secretly accompanies him and the combined army defeats the Canops in battle. Just at this moment, when Prescot attempts to tell Delia of his back ground, a scorpion of the Star Lords appears, tells him that they are satisfied with his work and that he will now be taken to Hyrklana.

Prescot fights the teleportation but loses and finds himself having to rescue a group of people who he later learns were plotting the overthrow of Fahia, the evil Queen of Hyrklana and twin-sister of Lilah who he had encountered at Faol. He is captured after his successful rescue, opts to fight in the arena and works his way up in the rank of the gladiators. The arena is subdivided into four fighting houses, of which Prescot is allocated to the Red Drang.

Prescot plots his escape but, as on previous occasions, the Star Lords interfere, raising a powerful storm to prevent his departure from the capital of Hyrklana. The flying boat crashes alongside another, carrying cages of wild animals. Prescot is forced to rescue a young slave girl by killing a powerful predator. He is captured after this and chained.

Flung before Queen Fahia he is told that the animal he killed was destined for her, with her keeping a number of them as pets. She intends to send Prescot to a slow death but a young noble recognises him as the man that saved them when they were conspiring against the Queen. He instead suggests that Prescot fights in the arena, to give him a chance, and the Queen dictates that he is to fight a Leem. To further tip the odds against his favour he is to fight with an outlandish sword of a large size. To his surprise the weapon is a Krozair long sword. Prescot sees the influence of the Star Lords or the Savanti in this fortunate turn of events.

Prescot, with great show, defeats the Leem and challenges the Queen who pardons him, her curiosity aroused. He surrenders his sword, conscious that he was prevented from escaping Hyrklana for a reason and manages to pacify the Queen. He meets the conspirators on his departure and establishes contact with the dissidents wanting to overthrow the Queen. Prescot eventually returns to the arena where he is welcomed back by the Red Drang. Prescot spends his time in the arena while conspiring the overthrow of the Queen as well as becoming more acquainted with her. The conspirators wish him to kill the queen in one of his private meetings with her but he refuses to commit the crime of a cold blooded murder of a women.

While with the Queen Prescot one night encounters Delia as a slave. He embraces her and they both attempt to escape the guards. He learns that, for Delia, their last separation was only four days ago, another instance of Prescot being in a time loop, and that she followed him to Hyrclana after hearing him say he did not want to go there during his forced departure. Delia's flying boat crashed on the way, she was taken captive and sold as a slave to the Queen. Dray and Delia fight their way through the palace, eventually escaping on a flying bird. In the city itself they steal a flying boat but once more a sudden, artificial storm throws them back. The flying boat crashes and Prescot is knocked unconscious, with both of them been taken captive.

Dray Prescot is taken to the Queen and, from there, to the arena where Delia is bound to a stake. He is given a short sword and then finds himself facing a Boloth, a sixteen-legged creature of huge size. Prescots friends of the Red Drang assist him in the fight by taking the Krozair long sword to him which he uses to defeat the Boloth. Delia and Prescot are then rescued by a very large flying boat manned by his friends and members of the army that went to assist the Miglas and escape, along with four of his friends from the arena. This time he is not prevented by the Star Lords from leaving Hyrclana, indicating that he fulfilled his mission.

Publishing

The book was first published in English in December 1974. It was first published in German in 1977 as In der Arena von Antares.[2] In 2006 the book was published as an E-book by Mushroom Books.[3]

Book covers

The cover of the original US edition was illustrated by Jack Gaughan. The second German edition was illustrated by Boris Vallejo.[4]

References

  1. ^ Ken Bulmer obituary The Guardian, published: 22 December 2005, accessed: 5 November 2014
  2. ^ In der Arena von Antares (in German) phantastik-couch.de, accessed: 5 November 2014
  3. ^ Arena of Antares Mushroom-E-books, accessed: 5 November 2014
  4. ^ Cover art The covers of the various editions of the Dray Prescot series, accessed: 5 November 2014

External links

Dray Prescot series

The Dray Prescot series is a sequence of fifty-two science fiction novels and a number of associated short stories of the subgenre generally classified as sword and planet, written by British author Kenneth Bulmer under the pseudonym of Alan Burt Akers.

The sequence is made up of eleven cycles of novels, each cycle essentially forming a series within the series. Four novels and three short stories are stand-alone narratives falling outside the system of cycles. Each tale is narrated in the first person by the protagonist, Dray Prescot. To support the illusion that the fictional Prescot was the actual author, later volumes were bylined "by Dray Prescot as told to Alan Burt Akers."

Fliers of Antares

Fliers of Antares is a science fiction novel written by Kenneth Bulmer under the pseudonym of Alan Burt Akers. It is the eighth volume in his extensive Dray Prescot series of sword and planet novels, set on the fictional world of Kregen, a planet of the Antares star system in the constellation of Scorpio. It was first published by DAW Books in 1975.

The Dray Prescot series is made of several cycles of novels, each cycle essentially forming a series within the series. In addition to being the eighth volume in the series as a whole, Fliers of Antares is also the third of six volumes in the Havilfar Cycle. It is set on the fictional continent of Havilfar.

The 52 completed novels of the Dray Prescot series were written by Bulmer between 1972 and 1997, when a stroke stopped his writing, also the later Dray Prescot books, after 1988, were originally only published in German. The series is in the spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars series.

Kenneth Bulmer

Henry Kenneth Bulmer (14 January 1921 – 16 December 2005) was a British author, primarily of science fiction.

Sword and planet

Sword and planet is a subgenre of science fantasy that features rousing adventure stories set on other planets, and usually featuring humans as protagonists. The name derives from the heroes of the genre engaging their adversaries in hand-to-hand combat primarily with simple melée weapons such as swords, even in a setting that often has advanced technology. Although there are works that herald the genre, such as Percy Greg's Across the Zodiac (1880) and Edwin Lester Arnold's Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation (1905; published in the US in 1964 as Gulliver of Mars), the prototype for the genre is A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs originally serialized by All-Story in 1912 as "Under the Moons of Mars".The genre predates the mainstream popularity of science fiction proper, and does not necessarily feature any scientific rigor, being instead romantic tales of high adventure. For example, little thought is given to explaining why the environment of the alien planet is compatible with life from Earth, just that it does in order to allow the hero to move about and interact with the natives. Native technology will often break the known laws of physics.

The genre tag "sword and planet" is constructed to mimic the terms sword and sorcery and sword and sandal. The phrase appears to have first been coined in the 1960s by Donald A. Wollheim, editor of Ace Books, and later of DAW Books at a time when the genre was undergoing a revival. Both Ace Books and DAW Books were instrumental in bringing much of the earlier pulp sword and planet stories back into print, as well as publishing a great deal of new, imitative work by a new generation of authors.

There is a fair amount of overlap between sword and planet and planetary romance although some works are considered to belong to one and not the other. Influenced by the likes of A Princess of Mars yet more modern and technologically savvy, sword and planet more directly imitates the conventions established by Burroughs in the Mars series. That is to say that the hero is alone as the only human being from Earth, swords are the weapon of choice, and while the alien planet has some advanced technology, it is used only in limited applications to advance the plot or increase the grandeur of the setting. In general the alien planet will seem to be more medieval and primitive than Earth. This leads to anachronistic situations such as flying ships held aloft by anti-gravity technology, while ground travel is done by riding domesticated native animals.

Delian cycle
Havilfar cycle
Krozair cycle
Vallian cycle
Jikaida cycle
Spikatur cycle
Pandahem cycle
Witch War cycle
Lohvian cycle
Balintol cycle
Spectre cycle
Non-cyclic & short stories

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.