Ten or eleven years ago I was working in consumer public relations on an account for a large exercise machine manufacturer. As part of my just-out-of-college entry level position, I monitored coverage of the product in a variety of fitness-related media. Every month or so I’d get a packet from a service with all the clippings related to our client, as well as several industry magazines.
The one that stood out the most was Exercise For Men Only, a men’s fitness magazine filled with new ab routines, personal workouts from famous instructors, and coverage of fitness-related products and clothing. The thing about it, though, was that it pretty obviously wasn’t an exercise magazine. What it was, bluntly, was a beefcake soft core magazine aimed at homosexuals thinly disguised as an exercise manual. I couldn’t believe some of the photo layouts in the magazine. There was no nudity, of course (it was sold in supermarkets), but some of the crotch shots in particular were best described as suggestive.
With that image in mind, we come to Dannus 5: The Slaves of Reglathium, a highly unusual sword and planet novel I picked up on a recent trip to Half-Price Books.
I’m fairly well obsessed with sword and planet, having read most of the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories in the vein as well as those by lesser (but still enjoyable) imitators like Otis Adelbert Kline and Ray Cummings. I’ve even followed the genre to its graduation into the hands of its most skilled and literate practitioner, Leigh Brackett. I’ve read sword and planet from all these as well as from Gardner F. Fox and Michael Moorcock and Mike Resnick and others, but I have never before heard of Dannus, or any of the five books that share the awkward word “Reglathium” in their titles.
The edition comes from Manor Books, and from the cover art to the back copy to (I presume) the story within, it comes off as a very tacky and cheap affair. The circular map of the world on page 6 is indistinct and difficult to read. Here’s the back cover copy, in its entirety:
“A RACE OF SLAVES
After their perilous voyage across the Dark Straits, Dannus and his men landed on the sinister Feroonian Continent and began to explore its dark interior, traversing a range of fiery, molten hills as they do so [love that editing, there]. Following a river they came upon a gentle race of fair-skinned people now enslaved by the Feroonians, sickly creatures with monstrously enlarged heads. Realizing that the Feroonians rule only by means of thought control, Dannus and the once docile slaves destroyed the power of the oppressors forever.
“THE SLAVES OF REGLATHIUM is the fifth and last of a series of fantasy novels about the career of the hero DANNUS, who fights for justice in the never-ending wars of the distant world, Reglathium. Other novels about DANNUS are: THE DARK STRAITS OF REGLATHIUM, THE PRISONER OF REGLATHIUM, THE CONQUERORS OF REGLATHIUM, and THE CAVES OF REGLATHIUM.
“MOVE OVER CONAN! HERE COMES DANNUS”
“Move over Conan” indeed.