Heroic Fantasy Sources
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Basic Information

This is a Bibliography page for useful resources in the Heroic Fantasy genre, including Swords & Sorcery and classic Gygaxian Dungeon Fantasy.



  • Alexander, Lloyd:
    • The Chronicles of Prydain — Young adult fantasy series inspired by Welsh legend
      • The Book of Three (1964)
      • The Black Caudron (1965)
      • The Castle of Llyr (1966)
      • Taran Wanderer (1967)
      • The High King (1968)
  • Anderson, Poul:
    • Three Hearts and Three Lions (1953) A Danish engineer finds himself in a world based on the legends of King Charlemagne and embroiled in the conflict between humans and the faerie realm. This book was an influence on Dungeons & Dragons, particularly in it's handling of the concepts of Order vs. Chaos.
    • "On Thud and Blunder" — an essential essay on common mistakes in Heroic Fantasy and ways to establish better verisimilitude. If you read no other works on this page, you must read this one.
  • Asprin, Robert
    • Another Fine Myth (1978) Heroic fantasy farce about a young wizard apprenticed to a demon; spawned several sequels and a comic book adaptation by Phil Foglio
    • Thieves' World (1979) a shared-world anthology edited by Asprin and set in a city of villany and intrigue. This book also spawned several sequels.
  • Bullfinch, Thomas:
    • Bullfinch's Mythology Published in three volumes:
      • The Age of Fable (1855) retells the myths of Classical Greece.
      • The Age of Chivalry (1858) gives an overview of Arthurian legend and selected tales from the Welsh Mabinogeon and
      • Legends of Charlemange (1862) does the same for some of the medieval Itallian romances.
  • Howard, Robert E. — wrote many short stories during his brief career. Many of them were collected during the late '60s and early '70s, and some of his unfinished tales were expanded into novel length by L. Sprauge de Camp and Lin Carter. These are some of his best-know characters:
    • Conan the Barbarian — 'Nuff said
    • Kull — An Atlantean barbarian
    • Bran Mak Morn — Historical fantasy about the King of the Picts during the Roman invasion of Britain
    • Solomon Kane — An Elizabethan-era puritan adventurer traveling in Africa and Asia
  • Leiber, Fritz:
    • the Fahfrd and Grey Mouser stories about a pair of swashbuckling sword & sorcery heroes. Originally written over several decades, the short stories were collected in the '70s.
      • Swords and Deviltry (1970)
      • Swords against Death (1970)
      • Swords in the Mist (1968)
      • Swords Against Wizardry (1968)
      • The Swords of Lankhmar (1968)
      • Swords and Ice Magic (1977)
      • The Knight and Knave of Swords (1988)
  • Tolkien, J.R.R.:
    • The Hobbit (1936) — largely a children's story, but containing hints of the Simarillion and the seeds for LOTR.
    • The Lord of the Rings The grand-daddy of Heroic Fantasy. Not the oldest work of fantasy by any means, but probably the most influential.
      • The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
      • The Two Towers (1954)
      • The Return of the King (1955)
    • The Simarillion (1977) A posthumous collection of stories edited by Tolkien's son Christopher outlining the ancient history of Middle-Earth


  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) The first of Ray Harryhausen's "Sinbad" pictures.
  • Clash of the Titans (1981) Harryhausen's last film. Apart from the embarrassing cutesy R2D2 owl, this is a wonderful piece of fantasy entertainment.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982) He conquered an empire with his sword. And then he went on to become governor of California.
    • Conan the Destroyer (1984) Sequel to the original movie. Not quite as good
    • Red Sonja (1985) Features Schwartzenegger's Conan as a supporting character. Unfortunately, Sonja does not wear her chainmail bikini.
  • The Dark Crystal (1982) Jim Henson fantasy about a pair of elf-like creatures who go on a quest to save their world from a cult of evil creatures.
  • Dragonslayer (1981)
  • Excalibur (1981) Flashy retelling of Arthurian legend with thunderingly good music
  • Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Considered by some to be Harryhausen's best movie. The battle with the skeletons is the reason why skeletons are included in the Monster Manual
  • Labyrinth (1986) A teenage girl has to make her way through the Henson Workshop and defeat the wiles of the Goblin King (David Bowie) to save her baby brother.
  • Sword of the Valliant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1984) It's bizarre and campy, but it has Sean Connory with green glitter in his beard as an unkillable sorcerer-knight; and believe it or not, it's more faithful to some of the medieval romances than you might think.

TV Series

  • Dungeons & Dragons (1983-1986) — Animated Saturday Morning series, followed the adventures of six kids from our world transported into a magical realm of swords & sorcery
  • Hercules: the Legendary Journeys (1995-1999) — Starring Kevin Sorbo and his amazing leather pants. Cheesy fun.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001) —Starring Lucy Lawless; spin-off of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys


  • Bastard!! (1992) — A heavy metal sword & sorcery epic about an amoral and egocentric sorcerer fighting against his former comrades and slowly becoming almost heroic. Almost, that is. Lots of scantily-clad women and puns based on heavy metal groups. The six-part OAV series unfortunately does not complete the story of the manga.
  • Dragon Half (1993) — She's in love with a dragon-slaying rock star, but she herself is half-human and half-dragon. Can she find love, or will she just have to kill a bunch of monsters? Silly, silly fun.
  • Record of Lodoss War (1990) — a 13-part OAV based on a series of fantasy novels by Japanese author Ryo Mizuno, themselves based on a Japanese RPG. Very good, with some spectacular dragon designs, although the quality of the animation flags a bit in the middle episodes. This is how Animated D&D should look.
    • Record of Lodoss War: Legend of the Heroic Knight, a sequel OAV series, not quite as good.
  • Ruin Explorers (1995) — A comedic take on dungeon delvers
  • Slayers (1995-1997) — a series of TV series, OAVs and movies about a young sorceress and her companions in a sword & sorcery world. [ I've never seen it, and know it only by reputation —quark ]
  • Those Who Hunt Elves (1996-1997) A goofy OAV series. It's just, goofy, okay? And it involves stripping elves naked. But there's a good reason for it. Okay, a goofy, totally gratuitous reason.
  • Villgust (1992) Super-deformed D&D. Pretty much all you need to know.


  • Amythest (DC) — a young girl discovers that she is actually a princess from another world ruled by magic. It was critically praised at the time, but did not last long.
  • Conan (Dark Horse) — the most recent translation of Conan into comic books
  • Conan the Barbarian (Marvel) — Roy Thomas' classic comics adaptation of the '70s
  • Prince Valiant (King Features) — The classic comic strip is still running. As a kid I thought it was stiff and boring, but recently I've come back to it and the strip has some really good adventuring plots set "In the Days of King Arthur"
  • Red Shetland (GraphXpress) — Furry parody of Red Sonja.
  • Red Sonja (Marvel) — She-devil in a chain mail bikini!
  • Warlord (DC) — A modern-day jet fighter finds himself in a Pellucidar-like world of sword and sorcery at the Earth's Core.


  • Dungeons & Dragons (TSR/Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro)

Game and Story Use

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