Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review: 'Warlord of Ghandor' by Del DowDell

3 / 5 Stars

‘Warlord of Ghandor’ is Dell book No. 253 (253 pp., 1977). The cover painting is by Don Maitz.
It’s 1649 and Robert Dowdall, an Irish noble and adventurer, is preparing to lead the Clans of Ireland in an effort to oppose the landing of Oliver Cromwell and the English army. The eve before the battle that would come to be known as the siege of Drogheda, Dowdall stumbles upon a strange portal hidden in the evening mist. Stepping through the portal, he arrives on the planet of Ghandor.
Ghandor is a small planet that orbits the Sun in a position equidistant from the Earth, in a manner akin to the Counter-Earth of the ‘Gor’ novels. Being somewhat smaller in diameter than the Earth, and with a lighter gravity, Ghandor confers upon Robert Dowdall superhuman physical powers, including the ability to make leaps of more than 30 feet vertically or horizontally.
Dowdall soon embarks on a series of adventures among the barbarian peoples of Ghandor, with the goal of saving his beloved, the stunning Princess Marjano, from imprisonment at the hands of despots or primitives.
Author Del Dowdell clearly intends that ‘Warlord of Ghandor’ be a pastiche of the ‘Princess of Mars’ by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the exploits of Robert Dowdall will be quite familiar to those who have read the John Carter of Mars / Barsoom novels. There are strange races of men, various monsters and beasts, flying ships, exotic cities, strange technologies, and much swordplay all loose on the surface of Ghandor.
‘Warlord’ is aimed more at a young adult audience than seasoned readers of heroic fantasy. Dowdell adheres a bit too closely to Burroughs’s plodding prose style; for example, the reader must suffer through periodic expositions on the social, political, and technologic aspects of Ghandorian life, and even the most desperate, seemingly hopeless swordfight always allows for the participants to exchange conversations composed of clichéd remarks: “…it is an honor and a privilege to have you fighting here by my side, Zynthmai.”
But those with an affection for the John Carter novels, however the degree of their literary drawbacks, will want to give ‘Warlord’ a look.
[Since the 1970s Del Dowdell has authored numerous adventure, science fiction, and mystery novels, many self-published or published by small presses; some of these are available at]

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