Thursday, March 24, 2011


By Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard’s tales of Solomon Kane are some the best and least noticed works of early Sword & Sorcery. Kane is very much an REH action hero, but decidedly quite different from the lusty, brawling Conan. Kane is a 16th century Puritan, a man of deep piety, self-denying, relentless in his pursuit of wrongdoing, and a stone killer with a sword!

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane is Del Rey’s (once it was  a Wandering Star book, but that's another story) collection of Kane tales. It is absolutely thorough and includes all published and unpublished Kane stories as well as poems about Kane, synopses and fragments. This is a Kaniac’s dream.

REH is often assumed to have an affinity with the brutal and the bloodthirsty. His stories sometimes have a reputation for misogyny. Reading the tales of Kane will correct that. One of REH’s friends commented that of all his heroes, Howard was most like Kane, a believer in justice and chivalry.

The Kane stories are set in various places in Europe and Africa. “Red Shadows” is the tale that blasted the explosive force of Kane’s fury across the printed page. It is essential reading as it details Kane’s obsessive hunt of a French bandit, Le Loup. M. Le Loup is no Robin Hood, he is a rapist and cold blooded killer. Kane stalks him all the way to Africa, and meets his great ally and spiritual mentor N’Longa the Witchdoctor. Other yarns tell of battles with tribes of bloodthirsty revenants, visits to lost civilizations, and warfare with demonic hordes.

The book is richly illustrated by Gary Gianni, the full color plates that adorn the Wandering Star edition appear in half-tones in the Del Rey trade paperback. There are tons of black and white sketches. 

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane is the definitive collection of Solomon Kane stories and a landmark in Sword and Sorcery. If you are a serious S&S fan, buy this book.
-Dave Hardy

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