Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane Stories and Poem[s] (not the movie, or works by other authors)

Extollager

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#1
Here's a place to discuss certain stories by Robert E. Howard. The stories include:

Rattle of Bones
Red Shadows
Skulls in the Stars
The Moon of Skulls
The Hills of the Dead
Wings in the Night
The Footfalls Within

The Hills of the Dead

There is also a poem, "Solomon Kane's Homecoming," and one or two other poems. Perhaps someone can let us know if I have missed anything.

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The first seven stories listed, at least, should be available online for free.

Along with discussion of these works, it would be appropriate to discuss Robert E. Howard's concept of the character, how these stories relate to or contrast with other works by Howard, etc. I hope that comment on comic books, movies, games, etc. can be strictly excluded from this thread. If you don't find the stories and the poem interesting, this thread isn't for you. After all, there are already two Chrons threads about a movie from ten years or so ago.

Solomon Kane - Wikipedia

The Wikipedia article lists stories "edited" or "completed" by other authors, and fragments. It's up to visitors to this thread to discuss them or not. I would prefer to stick strictly to Howard's work.
 

Extollager

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#2
"Rattle of Bones"

This is readable, as Howard's work always is, but pretty poor. A supernatural element is supplied by the animated skeleton of a Russian wizard who was the victim of a tavern keeper in the Black Forest who preys on suspecting travelers. (No, I didn't mean "unsuspecting.") Solomon Kane is accompanied to the tavern by a man who turns out to be Kane's enemy. The tavern keeper means to rob and kill both of them. His form, as he lights the way to the room they will share, seems "to grow and expand in the light of the small candle which he carried" -- perhaps "grow" or "expand" would have sufficed. That night, Kane's companion gets the drop on him, but the tavern keeper kills him. Then the wizard kills the tavern-keeper. Kane doesn't do a lot in this story, and the Black Forest setting isn't developed even in a perfunctory way.
 

Extollager

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#3
"Skulls in the Stars"

Somewhere in England, Ezra the miser treated his insane cousin Gideon abusively. Gideon died, and Ezra left his body where he figured the ghost wouldn't trouble him. The ghost has been killing people; although Gideon hates only Ezra, his ghost is too crazy to "'tell one man from another,'" and so it kills anyone who comes close, with its claws. Kane encounters it. It's too tenuous for his bullets or sword to do any damage, while its hate gives its claws solidity. Kane's courage enables him to come to grips with it and he chases it. It tells him about Ezra. Kane fetches Ezra and leaves him for the ghost to demolish. After this, the ghost will be satisfied and will cease to trouble night travelers.

Kane's a Puritan, we're told, but he lets out a "'Name of the Devil!'" oath. Howard says that he thinks he's a passionate warrior against the devil, but really he relishes risking his life and the feeling of adventure (for its own sake).

This was a little better than "Rattle of Bones," but not very good. There's some clumsiness in the explanation of the origin and motives of the ghost, etc., so that it stands as certainly a pulp tale.
 

Extollager

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#4
"Red Shadows" could be the title of most of Howard's non-humorous stories, I suppose. In this one, Kane tracks down a group of robbers and murderers and kills them all, except (till the end) for the leader, le Loup, who had added rape to his crimes. Kane's vendetta takes him to Africa, where he witnesses old-dark-gods magic, with a ju-ju man sending his soul into a corpse's body and thereby killing a tribal chief, before his soul returns to his own body. Kane also beholds an immensely powerful native warrior, who has sought his life, being killed by a vengeful gorilla. I wondered if this story could be the one with Howard's first death-battle-with-giant-ape scene, something he returned to often, if I'm not mistaken. Kane's drivenness comes across. This one seems better written than the previous two, though it's basically just a pulp tale. Howard puts some emphasis on his now-familiar notion of humanity's barbaric roots. It's clear, too, that he imagines people in terms emphasizing race, but he has Kane feeling the pull of the barbaric too. As for Puritanism, it would seem to be (since I've been reading a lot of 17th-century literature lately) that Howard probably didn't know much aboutit it, if he did, he didn't draw on it for writing these stories, at least not so far.
 
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