Masterworks of Adventure: Atlantis and Lemuria

The Ultimate Anthology

Atlantis tales were one of the most popular Lost World sub-genres of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This Masterworks of Adventure anthology is a collection of classic tales considered to be among the best and most influential works. We started with 333: A Bibliography of the Science-Fantasy Novel, by Crawford, Donahue and Grant (1953), which lists the best works published before 1950, then cross-referenced them with Science-fiction, the Early Years by Everett Franklin Bleiler and Jessica Amanda Salmonson’s Lost Race Check Guide, the ultimate checklist for collectors. You’ll find stories told in a variety of styles:adventure, dystopian, dark fantasy, philosophical adventure and pulp fiction. Some have been made available for Kindle for the very first time and are exclusive to ROH Press.

American Edition: 12 works
European and Australian Edition: 16 works
Canadian Edition: 23 works

What people are saying

The Lost Continent: "Splendidly colourful, imaginative and gloriously entertaining." ~ Lin Carter

Atlantida: “Well imagined, with much scholalry detail on the geography of French north Africa and the classical literature on Atlantis. The narrative is fast-moving and hold's one's interest well. All in all, perhaps the best of the older Atlantis fictions..” ~Everett Franklin Bleiler, Science-fiction, the Early Years

The Toll of the Sea: “One of the better lost races of the period, with well-realized moments, a convincing culture, reasonable characters, and competent writing.” ~Everett Franklin Bleiler, Science-fiction, the Early Years

Queen of Atlantis: Much the best of the Atkins adventures.” ~Everett Franklin Bleiler, Science-fiction, the Early Years

When the World Shook: “A really splendid romance, rich in color, fresh and gorgeous in its imaginative qualities and power, and needless to add, absorbingly interesting...” ~The New York Times (1919)

Elak of Atlantis: Thunder in the Dawn

Chapter 1: Magic of the Druid

THE TAVERN WAS ILL-LIGHTED AND cloudy with smoke. Raucous oaths and no less rough laughter made the place a bedlam. From the open door a cold wind blew strongly, salt-scented from the sea that lapped restlessly against the wharves of Poseidonia. A small, fat man sitting alone in a booth was muttering to himself as he drank deeply of the wine the innkeeper had placed before him, and Lycon’s quick, furtive glances searched the room, missing no detail.
For Lycon was a little frightened, and this prevented him from getting drunk as quickly as usual. His tall friend and fellow adventurer, Elak, was hours overdue from a clandestine visit to a lady of noble blood, the wife of a duke of Atlantis. This alone might not have troubled Lycon, but he was remembering certain curious events of the past fortnight—an inexplicable feeling of being trailed, and an encounter with masked soldiers in the forest beyond Poseidonia. Elak’s dexterity with his rapier had saved them both, and, later, he had attributed the attack to the soldiers of Granicor, the Atlantean duke. Lycon was not so sure. Their opponents had not been the swarthy, sinewy seamen of Poseidonia—they had been yellow-haired, fair-skinned giants such as were native to the northern shores of Atlantis. And for many moons Atlantis had been looking northward with apprehensive eyes.
The island continent is, roughly, heart-shaped, split down the middle by a waterway which runs from a huge bay or inland sea at the north down to a lake nearly at the southern extremity, thirty miles from the seacoast city of Poseidonia. For as long as men could remember the northern shores had been harried by red-bearded giants whose long black galleys had swept down from the frozen lands beyond the ocean. Dragon ships they were called, and those who manned them were Vikings—sea-pirates, plunderers who left ruin and desolation wherever they beached their craft. Lately rumors had spread of a great influx of these Northmen—and in taverns and by campfires men met and boasted and sharpened their blades.
There were two men in the brawling clamor of the inn who had attracted Lycon’s intent gaze—one, a gross, ugly figure clad in a shapeless brown robe, the traditional garb of the Druid priests. Beneath an immense bald head was a hairless, toad-like face glistening with sweat. These Druids, it was said, wielded immense power secretly, and Lycon habitually distrusted priests of any order.
Beside the Druid, Lycon watched a bearded giant whose skin showed traces of being darkened artificially, and whose hair was probably dyed, as it showed blue in the lamps’ glow. Casually the small adventurer touched the hilt of his sword. Somewhat reassured by the feel of its smooth metal, he banged his cup on the table and yelled for more wine.
“What watery swill is this?” he asked the innkeeper, a wizened oldster in a liquor-stained tunic. “It’s fit for babes and women. Bring me something a man can drink, or—or—”
On the verge of uttering a grandiloquent threat Lycon subsided, muttering softly. “Gods!” he observed to himself as the innkeeper moved away, “what’s got into me? These past weeks have made me a coward. I’ll be jumping at shadows soon. Where in the Nine Hells is Elak?”
He paused to throw a gold piece on the table and to lift a replenished cup to his lips. That was but the first of many cups, and presently Lycon’s apprehension and worry had crystallized into belligerency. The bearded giant was watching him, he saw.
Lycon drained his cup, set it down with a crash—and sprang to his feet, overturning the table. Dark faces were turned to him; wary eyes gleamed in the lamplight.
For all his fatness Lycon was agile. He leaped over the table and headed for the giant, who had not moved, save to set down his liquor.
Lycon was, by this time, very drunk indeed. He paused to drag his sword from its scabbard, but unfortunately it stuck marring the impressiveness of the gesture. Nevertheless Lycon persisted, and pulled out the weapon at last. He flourished it beneath the other’s nose.
“Am I a dog?” he demanded, glaring malevolently at the giant, who shrugged.
“You should know,” he said gruffly. “Go away before I slice off your ears with that toy.”
Lycon gasped inarticulately. Speech returned with a rush.
“Misbegotten spawn of a worm!” he snarled. “Unsheathe your sword! I’ll have your heart out for this—”
The blackbeard cast a swift glance around. He did not look frightened, but, oddly, annoyed, as though Lycon had interrupted some important project of his own. Yet he stood erect, and his blade came out flashing. The innkeeper hurried up, clucking his annoyance. In one of his hands was a bungstarter, and watching his chance he brought this down toward Lycon’s head.
From the corner of his eye the little man saw the movement. He ducked, whirled, felt his shoulder go numb beneath the blow. The giant’s sword swept out at his unprotected throat.
Something hit Lycon, sent him sprawling back, while razor-sharp steel raked his chest. He fought frantically to regain his footing. He came upright with his back to the wall, sword in hand—and stood staring.
Elak had at last arrived. It was his blow that had hurled Lycon from the path of the giant’s steel, and now the lean, wolf-faced adventurer’s rapier was engaging the blackbeard’s weapon in a dazzling flash and shimmer of clanging metal, while Elak’s laughter brought fear to his opponent’s eyes. The innkeeper crouched nearby, the bungstarter gripped in his hand, and swiftly Lycon caught up a heavy flagon and crashed it down on the man’s head. He fell, blood spurting, and Lycon turned again to watch the battle.
The blackbeard was being forced back by the rapidity of Elak’s onslaught. Few could stand successfully against the electric speed with which the adventurer wielded his rapier; already the giant was bleeding from a long cut along the forehead. He cried, “Wait! Wait, Elak—”
And his sword came down, leaving his throat unprotected.
But Elak also lowered his rapier. His wolfish face cracked in an ironic grin.
“Had enough?” he taunted. “By Ishtar, but you’ve little courage for your size.”
The giant fumbled with the fastenings of his tunic. Abruptly he brought out something thin and dark and writhing coiled about his arm. He flung it at Elak.
The rapier screamed through the air, but missed its mark. Elak sprang aside just in time; the dark thing shot past him and arched up to avoid the swinging cut of Lycon’s sword. For a brief moment it hung in empty air, while the silence of stupefaction stilled the tavern’s clamour.
It was a serpent—but a winged serpent! A snake, with two webbed, membranous wings sprouting from its body. Beady eyes glittered in the triangular head as the monster hung aloft. Then down it came, swift as an arrow’s flight.
Chairs and tables crashed over, and the thunder of frantic feet sounded. Lycon’s thrust almost spitted Elak. The winged snake, unhurt, flashed away, but its fangs had grazed Elak’s shoulder. The brown leather of his tunic darkened swiftly, while a stench of foul corruption was strong in his nostrils.
“Bel!” he ground out. “I can’t—”
Suddenly a bulky figure loomed before him—the Druid, huge arms lifted, shielding the adventurer with his own body. Elak made to thrust him aside. Then, staring, he paused.
From the upthrust hands of the Druid a pale flame was rising, twin fires that burned fiercely, dwarfing the yellow glow of the lamps. Incredibly the flames swelled and grew and abruptly took flight. The winged serpent twisted in mid-air, its wings whirring. But inexorably the flames raced down upon it.
They spread out lambent fingers, interlacing, till around the monster revolved a sphere of silently glowing fire. The serpent was hidden from view by a globe of flame.
And it swiftly diminished, shrank to a tiny glowing point—and vanished. Where flame and serpent had been was nothing. A grey dust filtered slowly to the rough planks of the floor…