Farm-Fresh balanceYMMVTransmit blueRadarWikEd fancyquotesQuotes • (Emoticon happyFunnyHeartHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3Awesome) • RefridgeratorFridgeGroupCharactersScript editFanfic RecsSkull0Nightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out iconShout OutMagnifierPlotGota iconoTear JerkerBug-silkHeadscratchersHelpTriviaWMGFilmRoll-smallRecapRainbowHo YayPhoto linkImage LinksNyan-Cat-OriginalMemesHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
The Roaring Trumpet - Heimdall and Harold Shea Before Surt - The Brothers Hildebrandt

The Roaring Trumpet - Harold and Friend Face Surt - Art by The Brothers Hildebrandt

Harold Shea is the main character from a series of fantasy short stories and novellas. (The series is sometimes referred to as Enchanter, from the names of the collected volumes.) The first three stories were written in 1940-1941, and the subsequent two in 1953-1954, all of which were co-authored by L Sprague De Camp and Fletcher Pratt. A further nine stories were written from 1990-1995, two of which were written by L. Sprague de Camp and the rest by other authors. One more story (by Lawrence Watt Evans) was published in 2005 in a tribute anthology dedicated to L. Sprague de Camp after his death.

In the stories, Harold Shea and other characters visit various settings from mythology and fiction. Each story has one primary setting that is visited, although some visit other settings briefly. The primary setting for each story is: Norse Mythology, The Faerie Queene, Ludovico Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso, The Kalevala, Irish mythology, Orlando Furioso (again), Oz, Journey to the West, Don Quixote, The Aeneid, The Tale of Igor's Campaign, Baital Pachisi, John Carter of Mars, The Tempest, and finally Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan.


  • "The Roaring Trumpet" (May 1940 in Unknown Magazine) — Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp
  • "The Mathematics of Magic" (August 1940 in Unknown Magazine) — Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp
  • "The Castle of Iron" (April 1941 in Unknown Magazine expanded to novel-length as The Castle of Iron, 1950) — Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp
    • The Case of the Friendly Corpse (1941) — L. Ron Hubbard (Hubbard "killed off" Harold Shea without authorization.)
  • "The Wall of Serpents" (June 1953 in Fantasy Fiction Magazine,) — Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp
  • "Sir Harold and the Gnome King" (November 1990) — L. Sprague de Camp (later included in the 1992 anthology. The Enchanter Reborn)
  • "Professor Harold and the Trustees" (September 1992) in The Enchanter Reborn — Christopher Stasheff
  • "Sir Harold and the Monkey King" (September 1992) in The Enchanter Reborn — Christopher Stasheff
  • "Knight and the Enemy" (September 1992) in The Enchanter Reborn — Holly Lisle, from an outline by L. Sprague de Camp and Christopher Stasheff
  • "Arms and the Enchanter" (September 1992) in The Enchanter Reborn — John Maddox Roberts, from an outline by L. Sprague de Camp and Christopher Stasheff
  • "Enchanter Kiev" (June 1995) in The Exotic Enchanter — Roland J. Green and Frieda A. Murray
  • "Sir Harold and the Hindu King" (June 1995) in The Exotic Enchanter — Christopher Stasheff
  • "Sir Harold of Zodanga" (June 1995) in The Exotic Enchanter — L. Sprague de Camp
  • "Harold Shakespeare" (June 1995) in The Exotic Enchanter — Tom Wham
  • "Return to Xanadu" (May 2005) — Lawrence Watt-Evans

Tropes featured include:

  • Action Girl: Belphebe/Belphegor, Britomart/Bradamant
  • All Myths Are True
  • The Archer: Belphebe
  • Bawdy Song: Shea and Chalmers are forced to recite an epic poem or else be killed, but the closest thing that either one of them has memorized is The Ballad of Eskimo Nell.
    • This becomes doubly funny when one learns that in Spenser's political allegory, the Blatant Beast represents the Puritans.
  • Black Magician Girl: Duessa, in "The Mathematics of Magic."
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Many heroes and warriors met by Shea, including Thor in his very first voyage.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Gertrude Mugler
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: between the characters from the modern world and the inhabitants of the alternate universes they visit
  • Distressed Damsel: Subverted in the third story, when Harold breaks into the tent of Belphebe's captor to rescue Belphebe, finds a Bound and Gagged person there... who is Belphebe's would-be captor, who had been tied up by her.
  • Expy: In-story example: The Faerie Queene has expies of characters from Orlando Furioso.
    • However, is there really any such character as "Belphegor" in Orlando Furioso that is an expy of Belphoebe? I looked and didn't find any character name resembling that. And the names don't seem to be related, either; "Belphoebe" is from the the name of a Titan from Greek mythology plus a prefix meaning "beautiful", whereas "Belphegor" is from the name of a Moabitish deity "Ba'al Pe'or" mentioned in the Torah (or so says That Other Wiki).
      • In this case the "Phoebe" in "Belphoebe" is probably not the Titaness, but another name for the Moon-Goddess Artemis, who, as a virgin goddess, represents for Spenser the chastity of "The Virgin Queen" (as Gloriana represents her "glory" and Mercilla her "mercy").
  • Genre Savvy: Arguably the whole point of the series. When Harold visits a world that inspired our work of fiction -- oddly enough, he manages to do quite well by running with the tropes that he (or the people he's with) remembers. At times, this has even been used for prophecy -- he remembers how the story came out.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Belphebe
  • Insufferable Genius: Ras Thavas from the John Carter of Mars setting
  • Literal Genie: Magical spells sometimes give results different than what Shea or Chalmers intended, but which fit the literal meaning of the words they used.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Magic is stated to act this way, although how consistently the rules are applied may be debatable.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover
  • Memetic Mutation: "Yngvi is a louse!" became a meme among science fiction fandom long before the Internet.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The wivern that Busyrane rides in The Mathematics of Magic, described by Harold as "some kind of a long-tailed pterodactyl."
  • Public Domain Character: ...and public domain settings, too.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Britomart (as in The Faerie Queene)
  • Shared Universe: Originally the character belonged only to Pratt and de Camp (with one unauthorized use (See Take That, below)); many years later, de Camp, the surviving partner, allowed other authors (so far, Roland J. Green, Holly Lisle, Frieda A. Murray, John Maddox Roberts, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Tom Wham, and particularly Christopher Stasheff) to play with the Enchanter universe.
  • Take That: "Sir Harold and the Gnome King" has one directed at a certain other author who wrote Harold Shea into one of his stories without permission--and killed him off. (He got better.)
  • Trapped in Another World: The characters sometimes are prevented from returning to the "real" world until they've accomplished something.
  • Warrior Poet: Lemminkäinen from The Wall of Serpents.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The story from 2005, "Return to Xanadu", is about what happened to a minor character from "The Wall of Serpents".
  • You No Take Candle: The trolls in The Roaring Trumpet, Odoro the Imp in The Castle of Iron.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: This is the basic explanation given in the original story for how one is able to transfer oneself between different "worlds": the basic laws of each continuum are determined by the individual's acceptance of the natural laws of that continuum.  Some forms of insanity are explained as being caused by an individual's only partial acceptance of the laws of a particular world.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.