Gardner F. Fox was nothing if not prolific. He wrote a TON of material, from comics to porn to Science Fiction and more. His work isn’t high art, but it might be beautiful trash. Often quick and easy reads, they’re a nice change of pace if you’ve been reading some heavy stuff. This book is very goofy but also fun. And it’s extremely quick at just over a hundred fifty pages, with “no big words.”
Who is Kyrik? I have no idea. He’s got no real personality. He’s big. He likes to fight. He likes to drink. He likes to bone. That’s about all there is to it. Who are the women in his life? One is hot and a bit stuffy. One is hot and free spirited. One is hot and an actual goddess. What’s the plot? Well, Kyrik was king a long, long time ago for…reasons. He was magiced into a semi-hibernation and is now out of it. In spite of it having been 1000 years since he was mobile, things are pretty much the same as when he left. Everyone knows who he is because he’s a famous legend. The evil guy in charge is the descendant of the evil guy who stole Kyrik’s throne. Cities and buildings haven’t changed. It makes no sense. If it has been 100 years…maybe. But Fox takes pains to keep reminding us that it’s been 1000 years. OK.
There’s the barest of motivation about revenge. Then stuff happens. Kyrik gets into fights, but he’s the best at everything so he wins. Women all want to have sex with him. Some do. Most of the people he fights are so impressed with his ability to kick their asses that they want to be his friend.
I know I’m probably sounding negative. It really is a stupid book, but it was also a lot of fun to read. I’ve certainly read worse and Fox’s work is always entertaining. If “Conan the Barbarian” (1982) is the film equivalent of Robert E. Howard (I personally think it’s a great film, but not a good adaptation of Howard’s work) then “Deathstalker” would be the equivalent of this. If the Conan stories are HBO, this is Cinemax. It’s a fun, but pretty silly nod to better Sword & Sorcery stuff. If you’re in the mood for some silly fluff about big men wielding swords and bedding women, the kind of thing where if it wasn’t in the title of the book, you wouldn’t know the lead was a warlock until it’s dropped off-hand in the last 10 pages, then this is the book for you. It was a perfect read for 13 year old me, as it’s violent enough without being sadistic and there’s a lot of talk about breasts.