The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune
|"The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune"|
|Author||Robert E. Howard|
|Genre(s)||Sword and sorcery|
|Published in||Weird Tales|
|Publication date||September 1929|
"The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" is one of the original short stories about Kull of Atlantis, written by American author Robert E. Howard and first published in Weird Tales magazine c. 1929. It is one of only three Kull stories to be published in Howard's lifetime.
Set in the fictional Pre-Historic Thurian Age, it deals with a disillusioned King Kull questioning the meaning of existence, leading him to seek the council of a two-faced wizard.
Kull, King of Valusia, suffers from a severe depression that not even his friend and ally Brule the Spear-slayer can rouse him from. A mysterious woman later whispers to Kull that he should visit Tuzun Thune, a wizard of the Elder Race, who supposedly knows the secrets of life. Kull is intrigued, and set off at once.
Kull arrives at the wizard’s home, known as the House of a Thousand Mirrors, and the two begin to talk. To Kull’s questions regarding the legitimacy of his powers, Tuzun Thune seems to offer evasive answer. Disappointed, Kull says that clearly Thune is just an ordinary man. But Thune points out that all men, from kings to wizards, are just ordinary men.
Tuzun Thune leads the king deeper into his house and shows Kull his mirrors. One, the wizard claims, is that of the Deepest Magic. But when Kull looks in it, all he sees is his own reflection. He then begins to wonder if he himself is only the mirror image, and the man in the mirror the true Kull, and he longs to visit this "truer" world.
Kull leaves, but returns day after day to stare into this mirror. Affairs of the State are being neglected, and the people are beginning to worry about the king. But Kull doesn't care. Finally, Kull begins to feel himself slipping into this mirror realm. But then someone shouts his name, and the mirror shatters. Brule has arrived and killed Tuzun Thune.
Brule reveals that Thune was involved in a plot to kill the king, as was the girl who first suggested Kull visit the wizard. Kull asks why a wizard with power over dimensions would be involved in a play for political power. Brule points out that all men, from kings to wizards, are just ordinary men.
However, Brule says that when he arrived, he could see Kull actually dissolving into the mirror. Kull wonders if Thune actually did place a powerful spell over him, or if he managed to break the bonds of reality all on his own.
Kull and Brule leave Thune’s dead body where it lies, and go. But for the rest of his life, Kull is haunted by questions about what really happened to him in Thune’s mirror, and they leave him even less certain about the nature of reality.
- Patrice Louinet. Atlantean Genesis, page 287, Kull: Exile of Atlantis; 2006, Del Rey.
- The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Robert E. Howard bibliography at Fantasticfiction.co.uk
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