Monday, July 30, 2007

32. Blood of the Gods and Other Stories by Robert E. Howard

Wreck of the Dumaru pictureThe little book troll of Mount Benson gave me this book (for my birthday, I think) a couple years ago. I have been slowly reading it one story at a time in between novels. Howard's short stories are so turgid and dense that you don't want to read one right after the other. It's best to take each story as a little novella on it's own and get right into it.

These are all short stories that take place in and around Afghanistan, during the period of Great Game. Most of the stories feature El Borak, a wild Texan who long ago adopted the ways of the desert and mountain people. He respects their culture and lives among them, but he also has to lay the beat down on them often when their naturally savage ways come to the fore. He delivers the same treatment to Europeans of weak moral fibre who come to this land to exploit and plunder.

The final story stars Kirby O'Donnel, whose exploits I had quite enjoyed in another paperback I found that were just about him. Those took place on the docks of pre-war Shanghai and he was mainly a boxer and dockman. Here, Kirby is in the desert as well, I guess just part of a world-jumping sailors many adventures.

Great stuff all around. There is a reason Howard is considered a master today. He always delivers and it is cool to read his fierce, adventuresome writing in a different context than Hyboria.

This collection was put together by Girasol Collectibles, who have been reprinting Howard's works (as have some other publishers). It is really great to be able to finally read Howard's work on its own as well as to find all these other lost gems that he produced.

2 comments:

dsgran said...

How was the shanghai stories book? Of interest to someone who wants to learn more about the history of that area? someone like me, perhaps?

Olman Feelyus said...

It was awesome, but I do not think it will help you with any history. REH never left Texas and his Shanghai is a mythical place of steamy waterfront bars, foggy docks and basement boxing rings. Still, it's definitely entertaining!