The Ship of Ishtar
A. Merritt, © 1924, Planet Stories (Pazio Publishing) 2009 trade paperback – fantasy
On a golden ship in a strange dimension of endless sea, the goddess of love and vengeance lies locked in an eternal stalemate with the god of the underworld. The coming of an outsider may tip the balance once and for all, or it might simply cause pain and sorrow for all. With the beautiful priestesses of Ishtar and the pale warriors of the Black God both seeking to bend him to their own ends, will Kenton become a slave of alien powers, or take up his sword and prove himself the true master of the Ship of Ishtar?
First published in 1924, this is considered to be one of the best of Merritt’s works. Merritt was an inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, and though forgotten by most of the world, remains one of the most celebrated fantasists of all time by those who remember, and have read, his works.
This is a complete edition of the adventure, with the original illustrations by legendary artist Virgil Finlay. Tim Powers writes the introduction.
Okay, it’s a classic. “Not to be missed” the publisher says. Lots of good things are said about Merritt, but when it comes to reading this book, things began to break down for me. The style is archaic – just too dated and antiquated for me, there are too many cliff-hanger paragraphs, too many exclamation marks, to much over-the-top language. I’m not saying it’s bad, many people will undoubtedly like it, and Planet Stories is to be congratulated for bringing it back into print, but it just wasn’t much to my liking.