Friday, April 16, 2010

The Savages Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard, Part 1

I am a fan of Robert E. Howard. He single-handedly pushed Sword and Sorcery out of the shadows and into broad daylight. He created a number of characters still heard about today, and with Conan, one that is commonly a household name. Del Rey is publishing “The Robert E. Howard Library,” a set of trade paperbacks that collects Howard’s fiction. The volumes are very nice, fully illustrated and well presented. As released, the volumes (so far) are:

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian (the first of three volumes collecting the complete Conan stories)

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane (the complete Solomon Kane stories)

The Bloody Crown of Conan (the second volume of Conan stories)

Bran Mak Morn: The Last King (the complete Bran Mak Morn stories)

The Conquering Sword of Conan (the final volume of Conan stories)

Kull: Exile of Atlantis (the complete Kull stories)

The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volume 1: Crimson Shadows

The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volume 2: Grim Lands

The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard

El Borak and Other Desert Adventures (non-supernatural adventure stories)

Dark Agnes and Other Historical Adventures (coming out Spring 2011)

I picked up the second volume of the Robert E. Howard Library, The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane. I had read a few Kane stories previously, but this seemed like a good time to invest in the complete collection. As this is a substantial book, I decided to take a look at it in two parts. After a foreward by Gary Gianni, the illustrator, and a reprinting of “In Memorium: Robert Ervin Howard” by H. P. Lovecraft, we dive in. The stories reviewed in Part 1:

“Skulls in the Stars”: Solomon Kane is met with a trail that is haunted by a creature that lets no one passed. To stop it and allow passage, Kane must discover the secret evil behind the creature’s genesis.

“The Right Hand of Doom”: A man boasting of his capture of a necromancer is in store for a bit of revenge.

“Red Shadows”: Kane discovers a girl ravaged by the evil Le Loup and his band of thieves and marauders, and swears vengeance, following him all the way to Africa, facing both a tribe of men convinced that he is the evil one, and a primal evil that escapes the jungle.

“Rattle of Bones”: When Kane and a companion reach an inn for the night, Kane finds out the hard way what it is like to be surrounded by thieves and murderers.

“The Castle of the Devil”: A fragment that gives us the beginning of a tale, in which Kane meets a new companion and heads to fight an evil baron.

“Death’s Black Riders”: A very brief fragment in which Kane runs into a dark, ghostly rider.

“The Moon of Skulls”: The longest Solomon Kane story by quite a bit, this tale follows Kane as he journeys back to Africa, finding an ancient hidden city filled with people who worship a dark god, and have taken captive an innocent girl. Kane must stop the entire city if he is to rescue Marylin.

“The One Black Stain”: A poem in which Kane witnesses the execution of Sir Thomas Doughty, and sends Francis Drake a less than subtle message.

The first half of The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane proved to be a very compelling and exciting read. I will return soon to this volume and the world of the Puritan warrior, and I am sure it will be just as exciting.

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