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Ship of Ishtar Paperback – February 1, 1977


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Paperback, February 1, 1977
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Avon; Later Printing edition (February 1977)
  • ISBN-10: 0380009293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380009299
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 3.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,217,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 3, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Ship of Ishtar," a fantasy novel by A. Merritt first published in the mid-1920s, offers a world in which the Gods of ancient Babylon are real and palpable, if not necessarily Divine, and in which marooned voyagers from many times and lands encounter each other in furtherance of an ancient curse. It is probably to be counted as a version of "The Flying Dutchman," although no sailor on earthly seas ever caught a glimpse of the vessel of Ishtar on its unending voyage across a crystalline ocean. The this-worldly counterpart of the Ship is a relic of ancient Mesopotamia, sealed in a block with (long-unreadable) warnings since before the days of Hammurabi.

And the novel itself is a relic of a "modern" world now slipping into the past.

The King James Bible tells us that "There were giants in the earth in those days" (Genesis 6:4) -- the Hebrew can be understood differently, but the Dead Sea Scrolls show that it was once interpreted to explain Mesopotamian heroes like Gilgamesh ("Glgmsh"). And it sometimes seems that before radio dramas and movie serials, before adventure comic strips and science fiction magazines, and well before comic books, let alone television, Giants were roaming the Earth!

Or, at least, Giants were contributing to magazines like "Argosy" (Frank Munsey's pioneer all-fiction pulp) and "All-Story," "Adventure," "Golden Fleece," and the more general-interest "slicks" like "Colliers" and "The Saturday Evening Post." And some of their characters were Giants too -- prototypes of the superheroes of a slightly later day.

A few of these writers had star status, or at least their names had special drawing power (think of Lucas and Spielberg).
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Christophe S. French on June 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Ship of Ishtar is one of the better 1930's Indiana Jones style pulp adventure novels. An archeologist unearths a miniature ship artifact that transports him to another dimension, where he becomes a macho hero, who, with the help of an interesting assortment of new friends, assists a lovely priestess in a battle against some evil warlocks. His adventures lead him through some wonderfully imaginative fantasy locales, and the book has a spectacular ending.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By s.ferber on April 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"The Ship of Ishtar," one of Abraham Merritt's finest fantasies, first appeared in the pages of "Argosy" magazine in 1924. An altered version appeared in book form in 1926, and the world finally received the original work in book form in 1949, six years after Merritt's death. In this wonderful novel we meet John Kenton, an American archaeologist who has just come into possession of a miniature crystal ship recently excavated "from the sand shrouds of ages-dead Babylon." Before too long, Kenton is whisked onto the actual ship, of which his relic is just a symbol. It turns out that the ship is sailing the seas of an otherdimensional limboland, and manned by the evil followers of the Babylonian god of the dead, Nergal, and by the priestesses of the Babylonian fertility goddess, Ishtar. A force barrier of sorts prevents the two parties from coming into contact with each other, and they have been sailing thus for...nobody knows how long. It seems that, centuries ago, a priest of Nergal and a priestess of Ishtar had been guilty of the sin of falling in love; this eternal cruise is the punishment that has been meted out by the gods. Kenton becomes embroiled in this ages-old strife; falls in love himself with Sharane, a Babylonian princess; eventually takes over the ship; and then goes in pursuit of the Black Priest of Nergal, after Sharane is kidnapped. He is aided in his quest by a sword-swinging Viking, a hugely strong and mace-wielding man of Nineveh, and by a scimitar expert from Persia. The quartet makes for one formidable team, lemme tell you! This is high fantasy done to a turn, and Merritt is at the peak of his game here.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Meikle on March 20, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the books that turned me on to heroic fantasy fiction back in the early Seventies.

I've been a fan of Merritt's for a long time. He's little known outside a narrow field these days, but he knew how to drive a plot.

Our protagonist is "sucked" into a sculpure of a boat, finding himself part of the crew and forced to man the oars in a fantasy "Arabian Nights" setting.

That's just the start of a swashbuckling adventure worthy of a Douglas Fairbanks movie. There are sultry maidens, heroic rescues, and black magic, all you'd expect in a fantasy novel of the period.

The writing style seems pulpy and dated these days, but it's a great fast read, and should be on every fantasy reader's bookshelf, just so they can understand the history of the genre.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Middleton on November 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
This review is of the Paizo "Planet Stories" reprint of The Ship of Ishtar, first published in the 1920's. The format is of a classic pulp magazine, with a two-column layout and 10 full-page pieces of Virgil Finlay artwork.

The Finlay work is beautiful and atmospheric, and a fitting complement to the text.

The story itself is well enough described in earlier reviews: a modern (1924) man, with more than a touch of Indiana Jones about him, is cast into an alternate world where gods do battle, only to be locked in stalemate. Our Hero, John Kenton, breaks the age-old impasse with the help of doughty companions, finds love (and sex!), only to have it all snatched away and require a quest to recover.

The characters are well-rounded and developed, and the tale for the most part moves at a cracking pace. The language however may be a little difficult to overcome. For the modern reader, there seems to be an incredible surfeit of both dashes and exclamation marks. There is no doubt but that this is deliberate, and part of building a rhythm in the narrative, but it was jarring after several pages and did not cease to jar hundreds of pages later. Unfornately, I can't divorce the gripping tale from the telling, and while I enjoyed the book - and hope in a future re-reading it to enjoy it more - it was good but not great. It would make a wonderful movie, I think, without having to struggle under punctuation on the written page.
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