The 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.
For Solomon Kane fans; a Solomon Kane movie was just released in Europe. I haven’t seen it yet but I heard it was pretty good.