Friday, January 26, 2018

My Lord Barbarian by Andrew J. Offutt

My Lord Barbarian was published in 1977 by Dell Rey-Ballantine with cover artwork by the ever popular Boris Vallejo. The book was intended as a homage of sorts to the old Planet Stories pulp magazine but it reads more like a Conan the Barbarian novel. In fact, Andrew J. Offutt would later write a few Conan novels, too. Offutt handles his material well, although the first chapter of My Lord Barbarian is cumbersome. The story involves Lord Valeron who is framed for murder by Darcus Cannu. Valeron is described as a barbarian, the Warlord of Branarius. At stake here is an alliance of planets. Thrown into prison, the middle section works the best. Valeron is intent on clearing his name, winning the love of the beautiful Alevsha and uniting the planets. There’s plenty of action and the added ingredient of spaceships hurtling between planets gives the narrative a Flash Gordon Space Opera feel. That makes My Lord Barbarian a little different than the normal sword and sorcery blend of adventure. Although author Andrew J. Offutt published over 400 books, few of them bear his real name. Most of his titles were pornography published under at least sixteen pseudonyms. I recently read an article from The New York Times written by his son which offered a fascinating look at Offutt’s literary career. His pornographic paperback career comprised most of his time and he could write a novel in three days. For those interested the article is titled “My Father the Pornographer” by Chris Offutt and it’s available on-line. Just google it. His primary pseudonym was John Cleve. Interestingly enough, Offutt’s Conan novels are published under his own name: Conan the Sorcerer (1978), Conan: Sword of Skelos (1979) and Conan the Mercenary (1980). As for My Lord Barbarian, I bought it, quite naturally, simply because I liked the saucy girl in the Boris Vallejo cover. Offutt might have appreciated that.

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