A collection of short fantasy fiction, 1982
by Roger Zelazny
. Individual stories copyrighted 1964
, not in the (chronological) order they appear in the collection. The subsequent Dilvish book, a full-length novel, is The Changing Land
200 years ago, Dilvish the half-elf, warrior and sorceror, broke the power of the demon Hashoran. Hashoran's servant, the sorceror Jelerak, subsequently made Dilvish's body a statue and consigned his soul to Hell. Now Dilvish has escaped Hell, accompanied by the metal demon-horse Black, and armed with all the magical Awful Sayings he learned there.
Some of the stories don't really stand on their own; they serve to establish character and fill in details of the setting. Other stories are mere diversions on the path to and from the Tower of Ice, where Dilvish hopes to confront Jelerak. (Compare Lance, with his "unbreachable" armor, in Passage to Dilfar, with Prince Gaynor the Damned in Michael Moorcock's The Chronicles of Corum.)
Zelazny's standard themes - the hero's return, armed with powers he gained in exile and torment, and the lust for vengeance that bars him from happier, more peaceful pursuits - are well-executed here. The two-way influence between Zelazny's work and FRPGs (particularly D&D) are also obvious; some references to the mechanics of magic in Dilvish's world could have been drawn from a gamer's campaign log. This aspect makes it highly suitable for FRPG adaptation/inspiration. Intrigue and suspense are well interwoven with breathless swordplay and vivid imagery.