Calgaich

calgaichHave any of you read this book? I’ve been hearing about it for years, but never owned a copy until Morgan Holmes sent me one last week. I’ve since bumped it ALMOST to the top of my TBR stack. It would have gone higher, but I have some library books and some novels by friends on the top row, and I need to get to them first.

Calgaich is historical fiction, and it’s supposed to be great old-fashioned swashbuckling with a real Howardian (as in Robert E.) flair. Shirreffs is much better known for his westerns, but in the late ’70s he drafted this for the short lived Playboy fiction press (it was printed in 1980).

The back reads:

EXILED 
Son of a barbarian chieftain and a Roman noblewoman, Calgaich mac Lellan is exiled from his beloved country after slaying his cousin in a sword duel over the beautiful but vain Morar, “The Golden One.”
BETRAYED
When his father is betrayed into the hands of the Romans, Calgaich vows to overthrow his treacherous uncle and to take his rightful place as chief of the Novantae.
CONDEMNED
“The gods do not mean to let you return home.” Recalling the prophecy of Cairenn, the betwitching slave woman, Calgaich is captured and condemned to the arena in Rome, from which few gladiators emerge alive.

7 Comments on “Calgaich

  1. Yeah, I’ve read Calgaich, and it was at Morgan’s urging, too. It’s a fine blood-and-thunder historical with a hero, his world, and a good number of powerful scenes, all displayed with vivid prose.
    The author, who was indeed almost entirely a producer of gritty westerns, has long been suspected of showing the influence of Robert E. Howard. Although it has never been conclusively proven, an REH fan will have little trouble picking out odd bits of prose and style that seem to indicate Mr. Shirreffs admired REH.

    Morgan once noted that a surprising number of western authors of 50 or 60 years ago tried writing a sword-swinging historical novel set in an era before gunpowder.

  2. That cover had me at “lusty sword swinging.”
    I know playboy fiction probably did an array of stuff, but I can’t help but wonder if the expectation was to sex it up a bit…

  3. Howard, read this book! I tracked down a copy a few years ago because of Morgan, and it’s a solid read. I don’t recall it being particularly “sexed-up”, but it is certainly lusty with plenty of sword swinging. You should read Year of the Horsetails as well, if you haven’t yet. I’m also on the lookout for an obscure historical called Black Viking about a Moorish warrior’s adventures among the Norse; it just sounds awesome!

  4. Morgan sent me a copy of that book too! I read it a couple years ago and really liked it. I wouldn’t say it was sexed-up but there was a bit more description of female nudity than usual.

    • I wonder if it will sound like one of those ’70s era westerns, given the author’s writing background. I’ll find out in a few weeks.

      Morgan doesn’t just seem to know everything about sword-and-sorcery, he also seems to know everyone involved with it! He’s also very generous.

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