Robert E. Howard is famous for creating such immortal heroes as Conan the Cimmerian, Solomon Kane, and Bran Mak Morn. Less well-known but equally extraordinary are his non-fantasy adventure stories set in the Middle East and featuring such two-fisted heroes as Francis Xavier Gordon—known as “El Borak”—Kirby O’Donnell, and Steve Clarney. This trio of hard-fighting Americans, civilized men with more than a touch of the primordial in their veins, marked a new direction for Howard’s writing, and new territory for his genius to conquer.
The wily Texan El Borak, a hardened fighter who stalks the sandscapes of Afghanistan like a vengeful wolf, is rivaled among Howard’s creations only by Conan himself. In such classic tales as “The Daughter of Erlik Khan,” “Three-Bladed Doom,” and “Sons of the Hawk,” Howard proves himself once again a master of action, and with plenty of eerie atmosphere his plotting becomes tighter and twistier than ever, resulting in stories worthy of comparison to Jack London and Rudyard Kipling. Every fan of Robert E. Howard and aficionados of great adventure writing will want to own this collection of the best of Howard’s desert tales, lavishly illustrated by award-winning artists Tim Bradstreet and Jim & Ruth Keegan.
The late Howard (1906–1936) is best known for his sword-and-sorcery stories, but he was a prolific author whose work spanned many genres. This collection focuses on his Central Asian stories, offering 11 tales of derring-do along with various miscellanea and supplemental materials. Much of the book is devoted to Francis “El Borak” Gordon, an American caught up in the struggle among various imperial powers who seek control of the regions north of India. More self-centered adventurers like Kirby O’Donnell and Steve Clarney get fewer pages, but provide an interesting contrast with Gordon’s loyalty to his friends of all races. Many elements of these stories have aged badly, but Howard’s skill as a writer and his enthusiasm for the subject matter are undeniable. Illus. by Tim Bradstreet and Jim & Ruth Keegan not seen by PW. (Feb.)