The Stone of the Witch Queen

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"The Stone of the Witch Queen"
Author L. Sprague de Camp
Country United States
Language English
Series Pusadian series
Genre(s) Fantasy short story
Published in Weirdbook
Media type Print (Magazine)
Publication date fall, 1977
Preceded by "The Hungry Hercynian"
Followed by "Ka the Appalling"

"The Stone of the Witch-Queen" is a fantasy story written by L. Sprague de Camp as part of his Pusadian series. It was first published in the magazine Weirdbook for fall 1977.[1][2] It has also been translated into Dutch and German.[2] Chronologically, "The Stone of the Witch Queen" is the fifth of de Camp's Pusadian tales, and the third to feature his protagonist Gezun of Lorsk.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Gezun of Lorsk becomes embroiled in schemes surrounding the magical gem the Potent Peridot, which confers control over the opposite sex. Having been once victimized by the gem he steals it and undertakes to return it to a former owner, the witch-queen Bathyllis of Phaiaxia, who has offered a reward for its return. With his ally Aristax he undertakes the harrowing journey to Phaiaxia and begins negotiating with the queen. But nothing is straightforward when dealing with a witch, and there are also other interested parties poised to complicate the situation...

Setting[edit]

In common with the other Pusadian tales, "The Stone of the Witch Queen" takes place in a prehistoric era during which a magic-based Atlantian civilization supposedly throve in what was then a single continent consisting of Eurasia joined with Africa, and in the islands to the west. It is similar in conception to Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age, by which it was inspired, but more astutely constructed, utilizing actual Ice Age geography in preference to a wholly invented one. In de Camp's scheme, the legend of this culture that came down to classic Greece as "Atlantis" was a garbled memory that conflated the mighty Tartessian Empire with the island continent of Pusad and the actual Atlantis, a barbaric mountainous region that is today the Atlas mountain range.

Critical reception[edit]

Groff Conklin described the Pusadian series as being "in the Conan tradition in every sense of the word, though better written."[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. p. 245. 
  2. ^ a b The Stone of the Witch Queen title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  3. ^ "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1954, p.122
Preceded by
"The Hungry Hercynian"
Pusadian series
"The Stone of the Witch Queen"
Succeeded by
"Ka the Appalling"