fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewssword and sorcery book review Robert E Howard Solomon KaneThe Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard

Dressed in black with the tall slouch-hat typical of Puritan fashion, and armed with sword, flint-locks, and, later, an ancient carved staff, Solomon Kane stalks the 16th century world from the remote reaches of Europe to the bloody decks of the high seas, and into the deepest, darkest African jungles. Whether it be a witch-cursed monstrosity, hell-spawned vampire, mutant throwback, or just a wicked wretch of humankind, Solomon Kane will fight with equal determination and enthusiasm to see good triumph.

Robert E. Howard’s tales are so alive, you almost have to check yourself for wounds. Between the lines broods an ancient feeling of melancholy that lends such realism to the writing. And the beautiful, sweeping illustrations in this book by the award-winning artist Gary Gianni bring that classical storytelling feel to the forefront.

As with all of Howard’s heroes, Solomon Kane is larger-than-life, fearless, and inherited of an ancestral fighting prowess and unconquerable spirit. But Kane’s adventures are the product of his fanatical obsession to root out and destroy evil in any form. He seeks no personal reward — only claims to do the will of God. However, despite his staunch Puritan faith, his inner demons are almost as dark as those he combats. He is a man of violence, filled with a wander-lust to seek out what he judges as evil with a determination and recklessness that is psychotic.

What makes Solomon Kane so endearing to read is, on one hand, Solomon Kane is the archetypical swash-buckler — much like a character from a Robert Louis Stevenson adventure story. On the other hand (probably the left because left-handedness was once thought to be of the Devil), Kane is as foreboding as what he faces — most often horrors as nightmarish as anything Edgar Allen Poe ever created.

Reading these stories in this format is like a journey back to my childhood — when the jungles of an old Tarzan movie were more real than anything documented on the National Geographic channel, and when a horror comic hidden in a text book at school would make me too scared to sleep that night. It reminded me of when I was too young to be allowed to read such violent and terrifying tales but did so anyway because I knew therein were hidden truths of adventures still left in this world that my parents didn’t want me to know about.

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane — (2004) This omnibus contains these previously published stories: The Moon of Skulls (1968), The Hand of Kane (1970), Skulls in the Stars (1978), The Hills of the Dead (1979), Solomon Kane (1995) and some other stories, poems, and fragments. Publisher: With Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard created more than the greatest action hero of the twentieth century — he also launched a genre that came to be known as sword and sorcery. But Conan wasn’t the first archetypal adventurer to spring from Howard’s fertile imagination. “He was… a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan… A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things… Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect — he was true to his ideals of justice and right. Such was Solomon Kane.” Collected in this volume, lavishly illustrated by award-winning artist Gary Gianni, are all of the stories and poems that make up the thrilling saga of the dour and deadly Puritan, Solomon Kane. Together they constitute a sprawling epic of weird fantasy adventure that stretches from sixteenth-century England to remote African jungles where no white man has set foot. Here are shudder-inducing tales of vengeful ghosts and bloodthirsty demons, of dark sorceries wielded by evil men and women, all opposed by a grim avenger armed with a fanatic’s faith and a warrior’s savage heart. “In Memoriam,” H. P. Lovecraft’s moving tribute to his friend and fellow literary genius.


  • Greg Hersom

    GREG HERSOM’S addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He's been with FanLit since the beginning in 2007.