The Maze of the Enchanter: The Collected Fantasies, Vol. 4
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“None strikes the note of cosmic horror as well as Clark Ashton Smith. In sheer daemonic strangeness and fertility of conception, Smith is perhaps unexcelled by any other writer.” —H. P. Lovecraft
Clark Ashton Smith, considered one of the greatest contributors to seminal pulp magazines such as Weird Tales, helped define and shape “weird fiction” in the early twentieth century, alongside contemporaries H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, drawing upon his background in poetry to convey an unparalleled richness of imagination and expression in his stories of the bizarre and fantastical.
The Collected Fantasies series presents all of Smith’s fiction chronologically. Authorized by the author’s estate and endorsed by Arkham House, the stories in this series are accompanied by detailed background notes from editors Scott Connors and Ron Hilger, who in preparation for this collection meticulously compared original manuscripts, various typescripts, published editions, and Smith’s own notes and letters. Their efforts have resulted in the most definitive and complete collection of the author’s work to date.
The Maze of the Enchanter is the fourth of five volumes collecting all of Clark Ashton Smith’s tales of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. It includes all of his stories from "The Mandrakes" (1932) to "The Flower-Women" (1933), and an introduction by Gahan Wilson.
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blusterings to inspect the prodigy. And all night the unseen hooves rang out sonorously on the pavements of onyx, and ran with deep thuddings over the grasses and flowers. The palm-fronds waved on the windless air, as if parted by racing steeds; and visibly the tall-stemmed lilies and broad-petalled exotic blossoms were trodden under. And rage and terror nested together in Zotulla’s heart as he stood in a balcony above the garden, hearing the spectral tumult, and beholding the harm done to his
great feast on the afternoon of the morrow.” Having delivered this message, to the wonder and consternation of Zotulla, the delegation begged his leave to depart. And though the emperor questioned them minutely, they seemed unwilling to relate the circumstances of their visit to Namirrha; nor would they describe the sorcerer’s fabled house, except in a vague manner, each contradicting the other as to what he had seen. So, after a little, Zotulla bade them go, and when they had gone he sat musing
Guided by their still, uncanny luminescence, he entered the labyrinth. At first, it was a place of elfin fantasies and whims. There were quaintly turned estrades, pillared with slim and antic trees, latticed with the drolly peering faces of extravagant orchids, that led the seeker to hidden, surprising bowers of goblinry. It was as if those outer meanderings had been planned merely to entice and bemuse and beguile. Then, by vague degrees, as the hunter went on, it seemed that the designer’s
sensitive to its quality. “It’s in the bottom of that abandoned ranch, a mile or less down the little road toward Bear River,” he replied. “You must know it. There’s a small orchard about the house, on the upper hillside; but the lower portion, ending in that meadow, is all wild land.” I began to visualize the vicinity in question. “Guess it must be the old Chapman place,” I decided. “No other ranch along that road would answer your specifications.” “Well, whoever it belongs to, that meadow is
longer shared this empire of cosmic immensitude and glory. My delirium shrank like a broken bubble, and I seemed to lose and leave behind me the colossal, shadowy god that still towered above the stars. I was standing again beneath the Tree, with the transdimensional people about me, and the ruddy fruit still burning in the far-flung arches of leafage. Here, also, the inexorable doom of division pursued me, and I was no longer one, but two. Distinctly I saw myself, my body and features touched