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SMITH, CLARK ASHTON –THE DEATH OF MALYGRIS in THE EMPEROR OF DREAMS. 2002. 

 

Fantasy Masterworks #26. Gollancz Books. In an exotic magical kingdom, the king summons his favourite sorcerers to his side. An evil mage called Malygris who has proved to be much more powerful than any of the good warlocks appears to be dead. He is visible through a Cyclops eye shaped telescope sitting in the throne room of his castle’s high tower, motionless. The King is not sure if this is some sort of elaborate trap or not, so he prepares to have the matter investigated as cautiously as possible. Two impatient and greedy sorcerers in his employment however are unable to wait and find out. They go to rob Malygris of his occult jewels and precious amulets. Malygris, though dead, sets his familiar, an Adder able to turn into a Python upon them, and they are killed. Unaware of this, the King creates voodoo like effigy of the evil mage, and makes it rot away. He sees the same effects on the body of Malygris through the Cyclops telescope. Convinced now that Malygris is dead and powerless, the king and his small band of sorcerers go to Malygris’s castle. They are quickly infected with an ageing flesh rotting curse which makes them die slowly and horribly, rotting away until only their clothes remain at all. Malygris’s corpse now falls to bits too, and the snake, which might have been behind everything, or which now thinks its services are no longer required, leaves the city forever. There are great touches to this macabre fantasy. The King’s summonings for the sorcerers, by sending mutes to act as heralds to each of them; the Cyclops Telescope is a great devise, and the alliterative poetic feel to the story gives it a true sense of wonder and horror. http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/s/clark-ashton-smith/

 

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