Lord Darcy

Created by Randall Garrett
Pseudonyms include David Gordon, John Gordon, Darrel T. Langart, Alexander Blade, Richard Greer, Ivar Jorgensen, Clyde Mitchell, Leonard G. Spencer, S. M. Tenneshaw & Gerald Vance

In a sort of parallel world where magic and ESP, not to mention knights and castles, co-exist peacefully alongside railroads, handguns and various other modern technology, LORD DARCY, who makes his home in Rouen, France, is the private security expert and chief investigator for Richard, Duke of Normandy. This alternate world somehow diverged from our own during the time of Richard the Lionheart, and is now ruled by a Plantagenet dynasty that has well survived into the twentieth century–and where magic is still alive and well.

But there’s magic. And then there’s magic.

Darcy uses it as an aid to his detective work, in much the same way that Sherlock Holmes used science. Playing Watson to Darcy’s Holmes (or Archie to Nero Wolfe) is Master Sean O Lochlainn, licensed sorceror. Definitely not a hard-boiled private eye type of guy, either by temperament or occupation, and yet the Darcy’s cases often evoke a certain hard, pulpish energy that added considerably to the charm of the stories. And to his credit, the author, Randall Garrett treated the magic as though it were science, explaining it and always playing fair with his readers–there was no last-minute appearance of some brand new hocus pocus to crack the case. All of which made the Lord Darcy stories one of the most enjoyable blends of fantasy and detective fiction.

Unfortunately, a debilitating illness left Garrett unable to write for the last seven years of his life, which is why there were no Lord Darcy stories from 1980 onward.

The series had proved so popular, though, that it was even briefly continued after Garrett’s 1987 death by Michael Kurland, a long-time fan, who contributed Ten Little Wizards (Ace Books, 1988), and A Study In Sorcery (Ace Books, 1989) to the canon. Sorry–no bonus points for guessing which tales these titles pastiche/parody.

Interestingly, Kurland’s own sf novel, The Unicorn Girl (Pyramid, 1969), though not a Darcy novel, is partially set in that alternate-reality timeline. It was written while Garrett was very much alive and well, undoubtedly with Garrett’s knowledge and approval. Presumably, this is why Kurland got the commission to write the continuation of the Lord Darcy series almost two decades later.

The Lord Darcy stories are a hoot, and the Joe Friday tone just sends them over the edge for me. Not to everyone’s taste, perhaps, but bound to appeal to those who don’t mind a few ladies in waiting, an occasional damsel in distress, and a lot of men in pantyhose.


Randall Garrett was a popular (or perhaps notorious) American science fiction and fantasy author, and a prolific contributor to Astounding and numerous other science fiction magazines of the 1950s and 1960s. He’s best known for his Lord Darcy stories, but he also wrote under a variety of pseudonyms including David Gordon, John Gordon, Darrel T. Langart (an anagram of his name), Alexander Blade, Richard Greer, Ivar Jorgensen, Clyde Mitchell, Leonard G. Spencer, S. M. Tenneshaw and Gerald Vance. An unrepentant fan of puns (once defining a pun as “the odor given off by a decaying mind”) and infamous womanizer, he won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Special Achievement Award for the Lord Darcy series posthumously in 1999.


  • Glen Cook’s private eye, Garrett, was named in honour of Randall Garrett.





  • “The Eyes Have It” (January 1964, Analog; 1979, Murder and Magic)
  • “A Case of Identity” (September 1964, Analog; 1979, Murder and Magic)
  • “The Muddle of the Woad” (June 1965, Analog; 1979, Murder and Magic)
  • “Too Many Magicians, Part 1” (August 1966, Analog)
  • “Too Many Magicians, Part 2” (September 1966, Analog)
  • “Too Many Magicians, Part 3” (October 1966, Analog)
  • “Too Many Magicians, Part 4” (November 1966, Analog)
  • “A Stretch of the Imagination” (1973, Men & Malice; 1979, Murder and Magic)
  • “A Matter of Gravity” (October 1974, Analog; 1981, Lord Darcy Investigates)
  • “The Ipswich Phial” (December 1976, Analog; 1981, Lord Darcy Investigates)
  • “The Sixteen Keys” (May 1976, Fantastic; 1981, Lord Darcy Investigates)
  • “The Bitter End” (September 1978, IASFM)
  • “The Napoli Express” (April 1979, IASFM; 1981, Lord Darcy Investigates)
  • “The Spell of War” (1979, Future at War, Vol. 1)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. A really big thanks to Rudyard Kennedy for helping me out with this one.

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