Sword and Planet is one of the more neglected subgenres of science fiction. Or fantasy if you prefer. It tends to be a blend of both, with examples that tend more towards one or the other.
The Dray Prescott series is one of the longest running, with a total of 53. Of these, DAW books published the first 37. The remaining titles were published in German, although a few more have been released electronically in English. According to the Dray Prescott site, all of the remaining volumes are being reprinted in English this year.
The stories concern an English sailor, the titular Dray Prescott, who through means that are not well explained, is transported instantaneously to the planet Kregen. Kregen orbits the star Antares in the constellations Scorpio.
At first Prescott is trained by the Savanti, a primarily peace loving people, who grant him longevity by a sort of baptism in a pool. But soon Dray meets Delia of the Blue Mountains. She’s injured, and Dray soon falls in love with her. Frustrated by the Savanti’s refusal to heal Delia when it would be no problem for them to do so, he takes her to the pool himself.
Of course, immediately after this, Dray finds himself back on Earth. Eventually he returns to a different part of Kregen, where he is momentarily reunited with Delia before losing her again. This time the mysterious Star Lords, rivals of the Savanti, are responsible for Dray’s return. The rest of the book concerns Dray’s rising to lead a group of nomads on a plain, getting captured as a slave, and his leading of a slave revolt.
In some ways, it’s pretty standard stuff for sword and planet adventures. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun. It is. Kregen is home to a number of intelligent species, not just humans. We get a glimpse of a small portion of the planet, and there are some intriguing hints as to what the rest of the place is like.
The Dray Prescott series is broken up into several small series. The Delian Cycle consists of the first five books. The prose was a bit purple at times, but overall I enjoyed the book. Enough so that I’ll read the next one and probably the rest in the Delian Cycle.
I read this one on my phone. I love ereader apps for phones, but I’ve found that I prefer to read short stories, novellas, and short novels on my phone rather full novels, especially as long as some novels are these days. From what I understand, DAW published more than one edition, with different cover art. The art for the ebook is from the second volume of the print series. That’s it on the left.