Richard Blade #5: Liberator of Jedd, Part 2


The Blade books have been translated into other languages, including Russian… and French. And holy tits. Those French publishers sure know how to make an eye-catching cover! Granted, I don’t have any idea what it has to do with Richard Blade visiting a prehistoric world and battling ape-men, but you know what? I don’t really care.


Alright, where were we? Oh, yes, Richard Blade is about to go on a murderous rampage.

After leaving Ooma at his new friend Mok’s house, Blade sets out. He’s a man on a mission: to become the head honcho of Jedd Town.

Step 1: Blade stakes out one of the carts carrying plague victims to the charnel pits. What could our hero be up to??

The cart went creaking beneath his perch. Blade sprang and, with no compunction at all, cut the driver’s throat with the stone knife. The man hardly had time to struggle.

Did he just cut his – ? Just some random dude and he -?


But our boy Blade isn’t done with his murderin’, no sir. He dons the dead man’s distinctive yellow uniform and then drives the cart into the center of the city, where the Empress’s palace is. The palace is in fact a pavilion setup on stilts in the middle of a lake. Blade is here looking for The Wise One. He waits for a while, and sure enough, the Wise One, distinguished by his enormous head, comes trotting out flanked by his personal guards. Blade follows them to the Wise One’s house. The Wise One goes inside and the guards begin patrolling around the house.  Blade waits until one of them goes past, and then he…

…took him from behind with one brawny arm about his throat to stifle any cry. With his free hand he brought the stone knife around and sought for the man’s throat just above the breastplate. The guard was strong and struggled mightily for his life, but Blade held him as he might a babe and slit the jugular neatly. Blood spurted, drenching the dying man and Blade as well. He did not mind. He wanted the blood on him.


Blade dons the guard’s armor and takes his sword. Then he approaches the second guard.

Blade used all his massive strength and put the iron sword into the guard just below the breastplate and above the groin. As he thrust, he twisted the the blade in a classic disemboweling cut.

Oh man. That disemboweling cut? Classic!!!

Continue reading “Richard Blade #5: Liberator of Jedd, Part 2”

Richard Blade #5: Liberator of Jedd, Part 1

Blade_Liberator (1)

God, this cover. Look at this nonsense! It’s like the artist couldn’t even be bothered to do the most basic research.

For starters, it doesn’t show Richard Blade naked. Where, I ask you, is the svelte, muscled ass that should be on full display? Or if not the ass, the well-shadowed groin hidden behind a strategically placed foreground object?!

If anyone involved in creating this nonsense had so much as skimmed the book, they would know that our hero is in the altogether with his wiener hanging out for much of the proceedings.

And then there is Blade’s female companion. Here again the artist has completely failed to calibrate the appropriate level of nudity. Virtually none of the women in this book are wearing clothing. This woman should, at the very least, be topless – how else would our hero be able describe her “superb breasts” which are “round and firm” and “crowned with rosy nipples”  with sufficient detail? He wouldn’t, would he.

Almost everything about this cover is a complete failure. Okay, fair enough: they did include an angry monkey.

Let’s try an alternative illustration:


Ahh yes, that’s much better.

So: this is book #5 in the Richard Blade series – Liberator of Jedd! – pseudonymously penned by various scribes; in the case of this volume, our ink-stained guide is once again Manning Lee Stokes.

Picture the scene!

Our hero, Manning Lee Stokes, is seated at his desk in his tiny, windowless office. Time and tide have streaked his hair with silver and weathered his narrow, bony figure. He is lounging in his chair, a celebratory glass of scotch in his hand (he keeps a small flask in the lower left drawer). He is enjoying a moment of quiet celebration because he has churned out the manuscript for Slave of Sarma in record time – and it’s a rollicking good read, if he does say so himself. Not Great Art – god no! – but he fancies its one of his better efforts. This, despite the relentless demands of his editorial paymasters. He rises his glass in silent toast to the naked bulb of the lone lamp that hanging from its chain above his desk.

Without warning, the door slams open! A short, balding man reeking of cheap cigars bustles in. Stokes curses inwardly – can’t the man fucking knock? But when he speaks, his words are conciliatory. “Chief! I’ve just left the draft for the next Blade book on your secretary’s desk.”

“Great job Stokesie, tremendous stuff,” bellows the editor. “Another triumph for ‘Jeffrey Lord,’ right? Hahah! And loooots of steamy love scenes, eh?” The man leers and nudges him. Stokes hates the way the editor calls him ‘Stokesie’.

“Boss, I literally just finished it. You can’t possibly have read it,” he protests.

“I don’t have time to read these things, Stokes! And neither do you! Our public is hungry for more. Listen, there’s an opening at the printers Friday after next. Think you can have the next manuscript wrapped up by then?”

“What?!?” Stokes sputters, covering his editor’s face in a fine scotch mist. “Boss, I haven’t begun the next one. I don’t even know what -”

“Easy Stokesie,” wheezes the editor. “Don’t sweat it. Just do your usual thing. Here, I’ve thought up a title for you: Liberator of Jedd! Like that one, hey? That’s a freebie!”

“Where’s Jedd?” asks Stokes sourly.

“Who the fuck cares?” says the editor. “Somewhere where there are lots of buxom broads in loincloths, that’s where! Hey, I’ve got it – Richard Blade travels to prehistoric times.”

“Blade doesn’t time travel,” objects the writer.

“It’s some kind of prehistoric dimension or whatever, alright? This one has ape men and volcanoes and dinosaurs everywhere, not to mention blonde cavegirls with big bouncy knockers who don’t know what ‘clothes’ are.”


“Sure! Hell, maybe she’s a cro magnon broad – still got a little bit of ape in her. An animal in the sack, you know what I’m saying?!?” The editor chuckles unpleasantly.

“Gross,” says Stokes.

“Hey Stokesie, you’re the writer. Don’t let me tell you what to do. Have it on my desk by the 18th or you’re fired. Hahah! Do me proud on this one, son, and maybe we’ll talk about that advance you’ve been bugging me for.”

With these words, the editor bustles out of the tiny office, slamming the door behind him. Stokes sags in his chair. He pours the rest of his meager supply of scotch into his glass and downs it with a single swig. Then, sighing deeply, he stuffs a blank sheet of paper into the typewriter and hammers out the words LIBERATOR OF JEDD. For just a moment he stares at the blank page with an equally blank look. Then the hammers start to clack as he begins to type…

Aaaaaand – scene!

Okay, so the above is very much a work of fiction, but don’t let that diminish its essential plausibility for you. Slave of Sarma felt like a book where the writer was able to stretch his legs and have some fun. For all its problems (and they were many) it was a diverting read. Solid pulp stuff.

Liberator of Jedd, on the other hand, feels very much like it was banged out to meet an all-too-short deadline. It contains very little of Stokes’ trademark purple prose. There are sadly few quotable lines. The action is not particularly memorable.

Nevertheless, there is plenty of pulpy gold to be mined here! Let’s get started.


We start with the usual sort of non-excitement – J has accompanied Lord Leighton to a lecture seminar put on by leading brain researchers. Thrilling stuff!

J is distracted, though. He is worried about only one brain – Richard Blade’s. J feels as though all these trips through the computer into Dimension X have caused personality changes in Blade. He thinks that the stress is taking its toll on him.

During Lord L’s lecture, J becomes suspicious that his Lordship intends to experiment on Blade’s brain. Afterwards they get into an argument about this. Lord L is all, “for science!” Although he has no particular designs on Blade’s brain at the moment, he likes to leave his options open. J objects vehemently and vows to fight him at every step. At the end of the chapter, J wonders where Richard Blade is at this very moment.

Naturally, Blade is almost naked and thinking about his penis.

Continue reading “Richard Blade #5: Liberator of Jedd, Part 1”

Richard Blade #4: Slave of Sarma, Part 2

richard blade 4b

This alternate cover showing a homoerotic scene with a naked man stabbing at another naked man with a long, pointy object sums up the rest of Slave of Sarma more accurately than you’d think. You’ll see what I mean.

We pick back up with Blade and Pelops in chains, being force-marched toward Samarcid, the capital of Sarma. It’s a three-day journey and they are in a long line of slaves/Battlemen. Princess Zeena was supposed to have gone to her mother the queen and tell her what a wonderful guy Blade was, how great he was in bed, etc. The idea being that Blade will get the royal treatment as Zeena’s bae, instead of whips, chains, and fiery death. By this time it’s clear that something has gone badly wrong with that plan.

Let us note here that Pelops had previously sworn to Blade that he would never be a slave again, and Blade had told him “Hey, it’s cool, so not gonna happen, man.” So this plan of Blade’s to infiltrate Sarmacid via the Battlemen? Which has landed the two of them right back in the chain gang? Kind of a shitty thing to do to Pelops.

Pelops is not the great, strapping hunk of beef that Blade is, so he’s not holding up well under the strain of these forced marches. Blade tries to nurse him along, because if Pelops falls too many times or gives up the slavers will just cut him down.

As they draw near the city, Pelops tells Blade more about the Queen, whom Blade will presumably soon meet (and, even more presumably, soon bang):

“Queen Pphira is cruel and hard, though not so much as Equebus, and she is jealous of her throne and her beauty. It is whispered that she orders girl children destroyed not because they are sick or ill-formed, but because they show signs of beauty. She has lived forever and will live forever. She has had ten thousand lovers and her beauty never fades. She never ages and will never die.”

Blade is skeptical of Pelops’s claims about the queen’s immortality. This is because Blade is an idiot.

I mean, c’mon. This is Dimension X, motherfucker. The sea is purple, there are giant crabs, and women wear boob armor with no bras. Why shouldn’t it also feature an immortal witch queen named Pphira?

(Somehow, the pronunciation guide is missing from the back of my copy of this book, so I have no idea how to pronounce that double-p in ‘Pphira’. I like to think it’s properly done by sputtering whenever you say it, and that if you inadvertantly spray the queen with saliva while addressing her it is considered a sign of respect and honor.)

Despite being eternally young and beautiful and the woman on top, it seems that all does not go P-p-phira’s way these days. Pelops tells Blade that a cruel man named Otto the Black forces her to pay him a hefty tribute every year.

“When Otto the Black arrives there will be sacrifices, and slaves and criminals will be executed. It is always so when The Black comes. Girl children are given to Bek – the criminals and slaves who are condemned go to Tor.”

The forced march having coincidentally ended just as Pelops finishes all this exposition, Equebus appears and tells Blade that he is summoned by Queen Ppppppphira.

Blade reflects on what he knows of the Queen:

As Queen she had the right to take as many lovers as she chose, where and when she wished. The lovers might be men or women. Perversion was not in the Sarmian vocabulary. Probably, thought Blade, because no one had thought of it yet. Just as nobody had thought of the wheel.

Oh yes, I suppose I should mention the whole wheel thing. Apparently the Sarmians, though otherwise a decently advanced culture – with telescopes and sailing ships and systems of law and shit – haven’t gotten around to inventing the wheel yet. So quaint, these Dimension Xers!

Blade is escorted to the queen’s audience chamber in chains. There he is informed that his marriage to Zeena has been annulled, and that she has been sentenced to banishment and hard rowing on a ‘punishment ship’. Then the queen’s advisers, known as the Council of Five, debate what to do with Blade. One of the council suggests they give Blade to Otto the Black.

“Now, we all know Otto’s tastes – therefore I suggest that we make him a present of this Blade. It will make a fine first impression. And when Otto has used him he will give him back to us and we can make a sacrifice to Tor.”

Holy homophobia, Batman!

The exciting prospect of being sodomized by Otto the Black does not distract Blade from ogling the royal tits, which are naturally on full display for this special occasion:

Unlike the other Sarmian women he had seen, Pphira wore no breastplates. She was as bare to the waist as Blade himself. Her breasts were surprisingly small, more like the breasts of a young girl than those of an “agless” woman, but were very firm and white and with long brown nipples each surrounded by a vermilion aureole.

Blade has an eye for tits the way some people have an eye for interior design.

At any rate, the adviser most dedicated to the idea of getting rid of Blade is an old priest named Kreed. Blade suspects him of being in league with Equebus, though he doesn’t know why. Kreed pushes hard for the Queen to send Blade to Otto. The Queen thinks it over.

Queen Pphira absently stroked one of her small pale breasts. Even at this moment, with his life in the balance, Blade felt himself aroused.

Continue reading “Richard Blade #4: Slave of Sarma, Part 2”

Richard Blade #4: Slave of Sarma, Part 1

Richard Blade_4

It’s the fourth entry in the Richard Blade series: Salve of Sarma! As you can see, after toasting his buns and pickle on the wreckage of a burning ship, our man Blade’s ladyfriend is forced to apply ointment too – ah, sorry, I now see that I misread that. It’s SLAVE, not SALVE. So I guess this image of a groovy 60’s chick copping an awkward feel while an insane Dick Blade attempts to spear the ocean conveys no pertinent information at all.

Apparently we’ll have to read the fucking book, then.


Joking aside, this one was actually not too bad. Manning Lee Stokes dips back into the swords-and-sorcery well a la The Bronze Axe, but this time with superior execution and writing. The result is fairly readable. Not great literature, not even remotely believable, but a fun read nonetheless.

We start with this prosy description of Olde Londontown:

Pavements were shiny and treacherous, slimed by fallen leaves. Fog horns on the river were raucous and surly, their mood matched by that of millions of Londoners as they began the vespertine shove into tube and train and car. A dour day, in all, with Indian summer gone and the drear of winter upcoming.

As is Stokes’s custom, we start out in media blehs, which is to say that nothing of interest whatsoever is happening.


Lord Leighton and J are meeting with a Member of Parliament who is attempting to audit Lord L’s super secret budget. He resents MPs meddling in top secret affairs that they don’t understand. Too be fair, he is spending millions a year to send a naked man into another dimension to play ‘loincloth inspector’ with various local floozies and bring back the occasional useless bauble. One might well question whether this was the best use of taxpayer money.

Lord L is having none of it, though. He manages to obfuscate the MP and send him packing, at least for the time being. “I’ll bet we’ll be hearing more about this later, though!” you think. Or, ideally, not.

J returns to his office to receive a message and get the actual plot rolling. Things are about to get interesting. J learns that Blade left Moscow two weeks ago.

Not the real Blade, no. Heavens no! He doesn’t do useful things like go on actual secret missions. We’re talking about Blade’s Russian body double, the product of a secret Soviet program called TWIN.

Continue reading “Richard Blade #4: Slave of Sarma, Part 1”

Meet Jeffrey Lord, Part 1

manningleestokesIt will come as a surprise to no one that Jeffrey Lord, supposedly the scribe behind 37* books about a dimension-hopping James Bond/Conan the Barbarian ripoff, is entirely fictional. The Richard Blade books aren’t the sort of thing any author with an ounce of self-respect would attach their real name to. And no one would churn out nearly 40 of these things unless they were some sort of literary sadomasochist.

So who were the poor souls being paid by the word behind this ultra-pulpy series? According to Wikipedia, Manning Lee Stokes wrote the first eight books. He then handed off scripting duties to Roland J. Green, who would pen all the rest of the books with the exception, for some reason, of #30, Dimension of Horror, which was written by Ray Faraday Nelson.

But Manning Lee Stokes wrote the first octet of Blade novels, including the three books reviewed so far, setting the tone for the rest of the series. So in this post let’s dig into what we know about the guy. We’ll save Mr. Green and Mr. Nelson for another day.

This is, unfortunately, something of an exercise in filling in the blanks, since there’s not much out there on the internet about Mr. Stokes, other than his extensive bibliography.

Manning Lee Stokes died in 1976, but was fairly prolific right up until the end. He had a 16 books published under his own name – mostly murder mysteries (this includes the amazing title, Corporate Hooker, Inc). He wrote another 69(!) books under pseudonyms, many of which were series that, similar to the Richard Blade books, featured a rotating stable of writers. In the late 40’s and early 50’s Stokes also wrote some comic books. This would have been right before the crash and the institution of the notorious Comics Code Authority. Unsurprisingly, he also contributed stories for men’s magazines of the era, such as Action for Men.

Stokes also had a couple of novels published in French, believe it or not. Almost makes him sound like a classy guy, but then you remember that he wrote Corporate Hooker, not to mention Slave of Sarma.

The weird thing is that Stokes does bring a certain air of dignity  even to the loincloth-clad adventures of Richard Blade. The vocabulary he deploys is miles above what is necessary for this kind of sleazy pulp. I have had to look up a couple words every time I cracked open one of Stokes’ Blade novels.

He also plots his books much more densely than the subject matter strictly requires – occasionally to the books’ detriment, as the various twists and intricacies get tiresome at times. The reader just wants to see Blade fight monsters and bone sexy ladies, and here comes Stokes layering on the subtleties and intrigue.

Stokes’ literary career, such as it was, picks up with The Wolf Howls “Murder” in 1945, which strongly suggests that Stokes fought in World War II. In his thirties during the war, he would not have been too old to take part.

I find Stokes’ writing in the Richard Blade series to be an odd blend of highbrow and lowbrow. It makes you wonder if he could have written something really fine, if he’d had time to take a breath and slow down for a minute. Instead he was churning out books for multiple series at what must have been a dizzying pace for most of his career.

Richard Blade wasn’t even Stokes’ first stab at writing a series featuring a James Bond ripoff. The Nick Carter (aka “Killmaster”) series was another house series that he wrote for. Nick Carter, as far as I can tell, never traveled to Dimension X, though.

Detailed biographical information about Stokes is sketchy. I can tell you that he married his brother’s wife after his brother died. I bet there is an interesting story there. Given his willingness to write under virtually any name for virtually any genre and even to try different mediums (magazines, comic books), he was clearly writing mostly to put food on the table. Was he content to slog in the trenches, writing pulp and sleaze under a series of pseudonyms? Or did he aspire to more?

Stokes did very little writing for ‘respectable’ publishers during his career. Pre-code comics, men’s magazines, pseudonymous pulp series, romance novels – this stuff was the dingy and disreputable bottom of the literary barrel. And yet, here is a guy who knew more than a few words and whose mastery of French was fine enough to write novels in the language.

I’m guessing that Manning Lee Stokes had aspirations beyond the pulps. Too bad for him, he never really got a chance to express them. But pop culture got some stuff that was a little more highbrow and erudite than it deserved.

If anyone finds any links with more information than what I’ve managed to unearth here about Stokes, I’d love to see them. Leave a comment.

We now return to our irregularly scheduled reviews of Richard Blade novels.


* That’s 37 books… in English. Here’s a fascinating tidbit from Wikipedia:

In the early 1990s the Russian publishers could secure the rights to only the first six books in the series, and approached the translator – Mikhail Akhmanov – to write the further adventures of Richard Blade. Together with then young sci-fi author Nick Perumov and others, Akhmanov wrote over sixteen sequels to the adventures of Richard Blade[.]

I dearly wish I could read Russian.