Zothique

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Zothique is an imagined future continent featured in a series of short stories by Clark Ashton Smith. Zothique is also the title of the cycle of tales which take place there. In terms of number and extent, the Zothique cycle is the largest collection of stories written by Smith. The cycle begins to fantasy genre, and more precisely to Dying Earth subgenre.

The Zothique cycle

Clark Ashton Smith himself described the Zothique cycle in a letter to L. Sprague de Camp, dated November 3, 1953:

Zothique, vaguely suggested by Theosophic theories about past and future continents, is the last inhabited continent of earth. The continents of our present cycle have sunken, perhaps several times. Some have remained submerged; others have re-risen, partially, and re-arranged themselves. Zothique, as I conceive it, comprises Asia Minor, Arabia, Persia, India, parts of northern and eastern Africa, and much of the Indonesian archipelago. A new Australia exists somewhere to the south. To the west, there are only a few known islands, such as Naat, in which the black cannibals survive. To the north, are immense unexplored deserts; to the east, an immense unvoyaged sea. The peoples are mainly of Aryan or Semitic descent; but there is a black kingdom (Ilcar) in the north- west; and scattered blacks are found throughout the other countries, mainly in palace-harems. In the southern islands survive vestiges of Indonesian or Malayan races. The science and machinery of our present civilization have long been forgotten, together with our present religions. But many gods are worshipped; and sorcery and demonism prevail again as in ancient days. Oars and sails alone are used by mariners. There are no fire-arms—only the bows, arrows, swords, javelins, etc. of antiquity. The chief language spoken (of which I have provided examples in an unpublished drama) is based on Indo-European roots and is highly inflected, like Sanskrit, Greek and Latin.

Notable locations

  • Zul-Bha-Sair is a desert city on the continent of Zothique. Their god is Mordiggian to whom "it is the law and the custom" that all who die be given to his priests and offered to "him" as food. It is the home of the dark sorcerer Abnon-Tha, originally a native of Sotar, who enters into a compact with the priests of Mordiggian and suffers fatally for attempting to renege on their agreement in "The Charnel God" (1934).
  • Naat is an island off the continent of Zothique, infamous for its necromancy and called by many the Isle of Necromancers. It is reached via a terrible ocean stream called the Black River, in which the dead can be seen swimming on errands for their masters on the Island. The villians Mmatmuor and Sodosma who raise an undead army in Cincor hail from here, as do Narghai and Vemba-Tsith, the henchmen of the evil Abnon-Tha who dwells in Zul-Bha-Sair.
  • Yoros is a island country on the continent of Zothique. Its cities include Silpon, and Siloar and the capital Faraad. Its people were killed by the Silver Death, a long fore-told plague descended from the great star Achernar. The only survivour was the young king Fulbra, who was given a magic ring by the old sorcerer Vemdeez to protect him from the plagues ravages as long as he wore it, and three of his slaves. Attempting to sail to Cyntrom he instead came ashore on Uccastrog, commonly called the Isle of the Torturers. His fate as met there is described in "The Isle of the Torturers". The mute, one-eyed, negro slave Mouzda that Nushain the astrologer owns in "The Last Hieroglyph" was purchased in Yoros, although it is unclear whether or not he is a native.
  • Uccastrog, the Isle of the Torturers, is a located off the continent of Zothique. Its king is Ildrac and as the name suggests is noted for the sadistic inclinations of its inhabitants. In "The Isle of the Torturers" the king of devastated Yoros Fulbra lands there and brings the Silver Death upon the island by tricking Ildrac into removing Vemdeez's ring from his finger.
  • Cincor is a dead land "drear and leprous and ashen below the huge, ember-colored sun" on the continent of Zothique. It neighbours Tinarath on it's northern border but is an empty land, the people being killed long ago by a pestilence. Its capital was Yethlyreom. Mmatmuor and Sodosma, necromancers from Naat, used their black arts to raise the dead of the land to serve them and thus become emperors after a fashion. The first and last Nimboth kings thus animated act together in fulfilment of an ancient prophecy and gain vengeance upon their defilers. The entire tale is told in "The Empire of the Necromancers".

External links

  • The Eldritch Dark. This website contains almost all of Clark Ashton Smith's written work, as well as a comprehensive selection of his art, biographies, a bibliography, a discussion board, readings, fiction tributes, and more.

Original Wiki source: Wikipedia