Solomon Kane Retrospective – 5th Post

The first post is here.

The second post is here.

The third post is here.

The fourth post is here.

We are almost there. One more post after this and I will be through all the Solomon Kane stories, at least those written by Robert E. Howard.

HAWK OF BASTI (a fragment)

While wandering somewhere in Africa, Solomon meets up with someone from his martime past, Jeremy Hawk. Apparently, Jeremy has a plan to topple a nearby African kingdom and install himself as king (again). All he needs is a gun, which Solomon has. Jeremy plays on Solomon’s nobility of character by mentioning the suffering that the locals endure under the current regime, and somehow convinces him to come along with this strange quest. Jeremy meets up with some warriors, kills one, and convinces the others to fight with them. Then it ends. Not too much to say, other than this had a lot of potential. Jeremy and Solomon are contrasted in this story as two sides of the same coin. From what I can tell, their past is a little sketchy. Solomon cleaned up his act, but Jeremy sank into the depths of depravity.

THE RETURN OF SIR RICHARD GRENVILLE

Richard Grenville was a real historical figure. Per Infogalactic, he died fighting the Spanish in a great naval battle. In the past, Solomon sailed with him.

The poem begins with Solomon sleeping and he is awoken by Sir Richard. A horde of naked men are coming for his blood! The two fight off the attackers and then Solomon is left alone in the jungle. Did a man come back from the dead and help Solomon? Or is it just a figment of Solomon’s imagination?

WINGS IN THE NIGHT

Yes, this is the story I talked about with JimFear138 when I filled in at the last minute! You can listen to the podcast here!*

While trying to get away from some cannibals, Solomon comes across a dying man who is able to mention a priest named Goru who tied him up and left him to die. Even the man’s own brother helped tie him up. After telling Solomon this, he dies. Solomon, once again, decides to avenge this man.

At night, he is ambushed by the cannibals, but while fighting one, the man is torn away from Solomon and disappears into the night sky. The man’s comrades flee and Solomon is alone again. The next day, a strange man-size bat-man-creature thing attacks him. It tries to carry him off, but Solomon kills it and plummets to the ground.

He awakens in a village being tended to by Goru, the priest that tied up the man at the beginning of the story. As he recovers, Solomon is told how the winged creatures love to eat people and are essentially “farming” the village for food. The man from the beginning was simply an offering to the creatures.

The village is safe from the nearby cannibal tribes, but the protection costs the death of many of their own. Also, there is a tale of a great hero N’Yasunna who traveled on a large war canoe in a great bitter lake and fought the winged creatures. Solomon ponders this and realizes that Jason of Greek myth, who fought harpies, actually existed…and so did the harpies!

The village asks Solomon to help fight the monsters and he agrees. Unfortunately, everything goes NOT according to plan and the entire village is wiped out. Solomon is the only survivor. In this moment, we see Solomon finally break down. His normally cool exterior is gone and all we are left with is his rage, his anger, and his vengeance. If I may quote Romans 12:19 from the King James Version of the Holy Bible,

for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord

Solomon is not having any of that. He will be the instrument of vengeance for this poor, forgotten village. No one will ever hear or no of his deeds; he could walk away and no one would ever know. But Solomon is a man of honor and loyalty. He is heavily wounded after the village attack, so he makes a trap.

He builds a hut and lures the harpies in. Then he sets it on fire. They burn.

Elmo

Artist’s representation of Solomon Kane praising the Lord after defeating the harpies.

Even in the midst of his triumph, Solomon humbly gives his victory to God. I do not know Robert E. Howard’s personal religious beliefs, but he writes a darn good Christian character. Solomon is flawed, but displays virtue in most of his actions. Solomon is played straight with his faith. No snark, no heavy-handed sermonizing, just a good, honest story.

When reading these stories, I am sometimes distressed by the fact that there is not much today (outside the Pulp Revolution) that is in the same vein. It is outright criminal that these kinds of stories are not taught in schools! Whenever someone laments the fact that young boys are not reading, I want to take this collection of stories and shove it in their face. TEACH THIS! Not that “Magic Barrel” story I vaguely remember about a rabbi trying to get married. I guarantee that they will come back begging for more if the teachers assign boys to read some Solomon Kane.

It’s almost like the public schools are not designed to teach or instill a love of learning, but to indoctrinate…but that’s crazy talk…right? Right?

Sorry for the rant. Have a great night!


* It is hard to listen to one’s own voice.

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3 thoughts on “Solomon Kane Retrospective – 5th Post

  1. Howard was agnostic, and Conan famously saw his god Crom as granting a man strength and will at birth but otherwise not intervening. But of course living in west Texas Howard would have known plenty of religious folks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Alt-Right DM says:

    This has been a great series – Solomon Kane has been a big hole in my reading for far too long. I’ll have to start watching for them to appear on the reading shelf at the local homeless shelter where I sleep. You’d be surprised at some of the good stuff people donate to the shelter when it doesn’t sell at their yard sale. I’ve seen some Vance and Andersen in dog-eared condition – clearly well read and loved – but never any Howard.

    Liked by 1 person

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