Archive for April, 2013

Weird Tales, Dec. 1934 - A Witch Shall Be Born

This rare Howard typescript for “A Witch Shall Be Born” recently sold at auction for $22,500. This is not the final version, as the description from the Heritage Auctions website (shown below) states, but rather the first draft of this famous Conan story.

A Complete Robert E. Howard Typescript of One of His Most Famous Conan Stories

A Witch Shall Be Born - First DraftRobert E. Howard. Original Typed Manuscript, Ribbon Copy, for the Conan Story, “A Witch Shall Be Born.” Forty-five pages (rectos only) on 8.5 x 11 inch typing paper. Originally published in Weird Tales in December, 1934 and later collected in the 1954 Gnome Press publication of Conan the Barbarian. Howard has inscribed and signed in pencil at the top of the first page of the typescript, “Best Regards, / Robert E. Howard.”

“A Witch Shall Be Born” is perhaps the best known Conan story of Howard’s career, particularly for the scene in which the mighty Cimmerian, after being beaten, tortured, crucified and left for dead, bites his way through the neck of an impatient vulture. Additionally, on the verso of fifteen pages of the manuscript, Howard re-used the paper to write another story, this one a western-themed thriller later published as “Knife River Prodigal” in the July, 1937 issue of Cowboy Stories. The pages are numbered sequentially 1-14, with an extra page 8, comprising fifteen pages of typescript.

The manuscript is quite clean, with errors corrected by erasure and retyping. Minor toning to the paper, with a few scattered, very occasional instances of thumb-soiling or spotting. Marginal perforations vertically along the left edge, likely as preparation for binding by its previous owner, and Lovecraft associate, Robert H. Barlow. A fine and unique Conan manuscript comprising two full Howard stories, with an inscription from the author on the first page (Howard signatures are quite rare in their own right), and likely the only time in a generation or two that one will be able to acquire such a treasure.

Accompanying the manuscript are several pages of provenance, comprised of the following: a four-page handwritten letter in pencil, presumably unsent, from Barlow to Robert E. Howard’s father, expressing his condolences on the author’s “shocking death”; a one-page handwritten copy (in Barlow’s hand) of a letter sent from Howard to Barlow, transmitting ownership of this very manuscript from the former to the latter (a photocopy of Howard’s original typed letter signed to Barlow is also included); photocopies of two other typed letters signed sent from Howard to Barlow; and a photocopy of a letter from Glenn Lord identifying the western story as “Knife River Prodigal.” From the John McLaughlin/Book Sail Collection.

McLaughlin was a world-renowned book collection who passed away in 2005. Fantasy author David C. Smith did a nice tribute to him here.

Some lucky Howard collector has added a magnificent item to his collection this month, but it cost him a whole passel of pazoors!

Solomon Kane by Jeff Jones

1583 — The beginning of “The Moon of Skulls” describes how Solomon Kane comes at last to Negari. He finds Marylin Taferal alive. She is now eighteen. The story describes her as “only a girl, little more than a child” but that may be Kane’s sentimental response. Eighteen was reckoned fully a woman in Elizabethan England. More importantly, it is hard to believe Kane finds her, discovers the secret of how the city can be destroyed, and rescues the girl, all within a week. More likely it took him months of walking a tightrope, as he learned the politics, power patterns and dark inner secrets of the place. REH probably telescoped events to move the story along.

Nakari, the city’s “vampire queen” may or may not be truly a vampire. It’s certainly her reputation. Kane’s first words to the first warrior of Negari he met were, “I seek the vampire queen …” Besides, in “Solomon Kane’s Homecoming,” REH writes:

And I have known a deathless queen in a city old as Death,
Where towering pyramids of skulls her glory witnesseth.
Her kiss was like an adder’s fang, with the sweetness Lilith had,
And her red-eyed vassals howled for blood in that City of the Mad.

The_Moon_of_SkullsOne wonders. Was she perhaps thousands of years old, one of the “captive girls dragged screaming through the portals of death” by the vampire princess Akivasha in Conan’s time? If anybody could survive the cataclysm that destroyed the Hyborian world, it would be a vampire. Nakari might have sought refuge in a forgotten outpost of Atlantis deep in Africa, as harpies (“Wings in the Night”) and other fiendish creatures had done.

She perishes at last, though. “The blind giant whirled her on high with one dying effort, and her last scream knifed the din of battle as Nakari, last queen of Negari, crashed against the stones of the altar and fell shattered and dead at Kane’s feet.”

1584 — Kane and Marylin leave the remnants of Negari to attempt a return to civilization. This occurs in January or February. Marylin doubts they can survive such a journey, but Kane urges her to have faith. He justifies his own faith by bringing Marylin home to Devon and her family by July. Old Hildred is beside himself with joy. Bess Rowley is glad past measure to see Kane alive – she still loves him – but when she urges him to stay in Devon for a settled existence, he fears he cannot. Bess says despairingly, “Solomon, are you a cursed spirit that you can never rest?” and he tries to explain. It doesn’t go over too well. Perhaps he confesses to her that he was the Earl of Essex’s slayer in Ireland and that this, if it is ever discovered, would mean disaster for any wife and family of his in England. After Kane departs, Bess, now twenty-seven, turns to Henry Taferal, a cousin of Marylin’s who has loved her for some time, and marries him.

1585 — Perhaps Kane’s heart aches more than he owns. On April 9th Richard Grenville leaves England on an expedition sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh. He commands five ships – the Tiger, Roebuck, Red Lion, Elizabeth and Dorothy. The Tiger is Grenville’s vessel, a ship of “seven score tun”. Kane sails with Grenville in the “Tiger.”

The fleet becomes separated in a storm off the coast of Portugal. Grenville’s “Tiger” arrives in Guayanillo Bay in Puerto Rico (“Baye of Muskito”). He raids and plunders the Spaniards there, while waiting for his other ships. In early July he re-unites with the Roebuck and Dorothy, but not the Red Lion, which has gone off on its own privateering – or to engage in out-and-out piracy.

Sir Richard GrenvilleTwo other Devon seamen, Black Roger Bellamy and Jack Hawksby, are pirates in the Caribbean, fighting the Spaniards, looting their ships and towns. They encounter Grenville and Solomon Kane at Puerto Rico at the time of Grenville’s Roanoake voyage. They join with Grenville to raid Cuba and Jamaica. Kane is thirty-one, Bellamy and Hawksby somewhat the same age.

1586 — Grenville arrives at Roanoake in August to find the place deserted except for three men mistakenly left behind by Drake. He re-establishes the colony. Raleigh and Elizabeth intended that the venture should provide riches from the New World and a base from which to send privateers on raids against the treasure fleets of Spain. Perhaps at this time Kane battles the Indians of the region.

On his way back to England, Grenville pillages the Azores and captures a Spanish ship. Kane is with him on these enterprises also. He comes to have a much higher regard for Grenville than for Drake, and Raleigh he despises as “a smug, scented lecher,” in REH’s phrase. Grenville is appointed English vice-admiral of the navy once back in England.

1587 — Kane has returned to England with Grenville. Hearing that Bess is married to a Taferal, he decides not to disturb her life, but he writes her a letter, the longest he has ever written, and the most difficult. He rips up a dozen before he sends the last. Basically he asks her pardon for having caused her grief and wishes her happiness always.

This is not the most momentous event of 1587. Kane and Grenville return to England after the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in February. Kane is filled with loathing for the deed, even though Mary was Catholic and a threat to Protestant England, for she was still a woman helpless among dark political machinations. Kane’s distaste for Elizabeth becomes greater yet. She had experienced life in prison, as a danger to the ruling monarch, in constant dread of the executioner’s blade. Kane despises Mary’s son James even more, for James did nothing to prevent his mother’s execution, merely lodged a feeble protest. Kane regards him thenceforward and for all time as a craven lacking any trace of manhood.

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Rann Njalsdaughter

Artist Nathan Furman has rendered exclusively for the TGR blog the above illustration. The subject of this piece is Rann Njalsdaughter, a character from the L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter Conan pastiche, “Legions of the Dead.” Nathan has been wowing Howard fans with his art in the pages of the TGR print journal since 2009. Nathan’s work first appeared in issue number12 and he followed it up with the color cover for issue 13 (shown below).

The Rann illustration is mostly graphite pencil, with some charcoal and hyper realistic, which is the style Nathan is working in a lot these days. Nathan is currently under contract with Manticore Verlag, a German company, illustrating books 18 and 19 for Joe Dever’s fantasy adventure Lone Wolf novels and he has recently finished pencilling and inking a comic book first issue with Roy Thomas, which the duo is hoping to find a publisher for. He also accepts commissions and does portrait work. You can contract him directly via e-mail.

Be sure and check out Nathan’s website. He regularly posts new pieces there and has information on his upcoming projects. And I have no doubt you’ll see his art in the next issue of TGR.

REH-Two-Gun-Raconteur 13

This entry filed under Howard Illustrated, L. Sprague de Camp, News.

Solomon Kane by Jeffrey Jones

Kane is now twenty-two. The slaying of Essex precipitates and sets his belief in himself as the instrument of God’s vengeance on the wicked and tyrannical. A modern person would say his paranoid tendencies are now full-blown, and REH more than once described Kane’s driven wanderlust and compulsion to avenge cruelty and evil as a “strange paranoid urge”. However, he retains a softness towards the weak and downtrodden and a will to protect them. “He neither knew nor questioned why. That was his obsession, his driving force of life. Cruelty and tyranny to the weak sent a red blaze of fury, fierce and lasting, through his soul. When the full flame of his hatred was wakened and loosed, there was no rest for him until his vengeance had been fulfilled to the uttermost.”

Kane is aware that if it becomes known that he slew Essex, he will stand for hanging, drawing and quartering in England, God’s instrument or not. He quietly leaves Ireland for Wales. His movements after that are uncertain. Perhaps he spends the winter in Wales and then, in the spring, wanders across to York or even north to the Anglo-Scottish border. He is definitely back in the south by the summer, however.

On the Devon coast he hears of a voyage planned by Francis Drake. The Taferals invest in Drake’s voyage; so do Kane’s kindred. Drake’s ostensible purpose is to chart the Straits of Magellan and seek the fabled North West Passage. Unofficially it’s also a pirate cruise.

1577 — Drake’s fleet departs from Plymouth in December. Drake commands the Pelican (later renamed Golden Hind). Kane sails aboard her as one of the dozen or so “gentleman adventurers” accompanying the fleet. This is highly ironic, since he killed the Earl of Essex for ordering the Rathlin Island massacre, and Francis Drake was also there, taking part in the atrocity with Sir John Norreys. Kane presumably was never aware of this.

1578 — The fleet sails down the African coast, taking half a dozen Spanish and Portuguese prizes. Off the Cape Verde Islands, Drake kidnaps a Portuguese pilot who knows the route to South America. After a difficult passage across the Atlantic, they reach Port St. Julian near the Strait of Magellan. In June Thomas Doughty is beheaded ashore. Kane clashes with Drake over the execution. (REH, “The One Black Stain.”)

After passing the Strait of Magellan, they are driven south by a ferocious storm for 50 days. One ship sinks and another turns back for England. On December 5th the Golden Hind reaches Valparaiso, Chile. Drake sacks the town and captures a valuable Spanish prize.

Drake captures the Cacafuego off Ecaudor.1579 — Drake takes another prize, the Cacafuego, near Cape San Francisco, just north of the equator on March 1st. The Cacafuego’s cargo includes gold, silver bars and silver coins. Its value is immense and the voyage is “made” as a result.

Drake continues north. He sacks Guatulco in Mexico and sails onward, looking for the fabled north-west passage to Europe, but is forced to turn back by extreme cold. Returning south, he repairs the Golden Hind in northern California. He sails eastwards in July, using captured charts which guide him across the Pacific to the Philippines.

Here this timeline departs from the history books, because there is no record of Drake touching the Chinese coast, but storms drive the Golden Hind northward to Taiwan and Nanching. Pirates plague this region. In former decades they had been Japanese, but now they are principally Chinese. The English rescue a Christian Chinese woman and her scholar father from a pirate admiral. They also capture a further load of silver bullion. After that they turn southward again and halt at Mindanao in the Philippines before sailing on to the Spice Islands (Moluccas). We are again with recorded history now.

The Golden Hind is trapped on a reef and almost lost. Drake is received in a friendly manner by Sultan Baber of Ternate, but has to step with care to avoid trouble with the Portuguese, who regard the Moluccas as their estate. Kane assists notably in scotching a Portuguese scheme to destroy Drake, and a supernatural menace from a local sorcerer. Despite this, Drake still mistrusts him and sees him as a threat to discipline.

1579 — Bishop Diego de Landa dies. During his tenure he has persecuted the Maya of Yucatan for heresy and idolatry with such relentless cruelty that large numbers of them have fled for refuge into the forests of the interior. He has also destroyed their written codices and sacred images.

1580 — Philip II of Spain gains control of Portugal, uniting the Portuguese and Spanish crowns, following the death of young King Sebastian of Portugal without heirs in 1578. The situation continues for the next sixty years.

1580 — Drake rounds the Cape of Good Hope and reaches Sierra Leone in West Africa. The history books say this was at the end of July. I am assuming for story purposes that it was in April instead. Solomon Kane leaves the ship’s company and makes his first adventurous lone foray into Africa. He doesn’t wish to meet the same fate as Doughty, and he no longer trusts Drake, any more than Drake considers him trusty.

On the coast of Sierra Leone, he comes to a castle built by a Portuguese noble (Dom Vincente da Lusto) in the late fifteenth century. This castle was the scene of the REH story “Wolfshead”. Dom Vincente is long since dead, and the castle was abandoned for a time, but now it is once again the site of a thriving commerce, particularly in slaves.

Map of Sierra Leone1580 — Kane travels inland. At this time the Mane people – a well organised warrior tribe — had conquered Sierra Leone over twenty years (1545-1565). They lived in fortified villages and the sub-chiefs among whom the country was divided frequently fought among themselves. A great motivation to fight these endless small wars was taking prisoners to sell to European slavers. It’s a truly damning comment that “When Europeans first arrived at Sierra Leone, slavery among the African peoples of the area was rare.” Kane may have seen the bestial business of slaving here for the first time, and learned to loathe it as he clearly did.

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This entry filed under Howard Scholarship, Howard's Fiction.

While digging through Robert E. Howard’s letters to Tevis Clyde Smith, I stumbled onto two poems that didn’t make it into The Collected Poetry volume. Both poems are imbedded at the end of prose paragraphs and not easily distinguished from them. Easy to miss if you’re scanning for lines of verse. Anyway, both of the items are in The Collected Letters, volume 3, page 489.

I found one of them a while ago and reported it to Paul Herman. That poem appears on the Howard Works website as “Untitled (‘Deep in my bosom . . .’),” but the other poem I just noticed today, a few lines above the other one. Neither has been published as a poem, only as part of the letter (and the wrong letter, at that, but that’s a story for another time).

The first new poem is in this paragraph:

I speak scathingly of vice—bad women, bad liquor and profanity. Hell. Let me dream by a silver stream till I sight my vision’s gleam, then let me sigh for the days gone by when I dreamed of a golden dream.

A little tweaking yields the following quatrain:

Let me dream by a silver stream
Till I sight my vision’s gleam,
Then let me sigh for the days gone by
When I dreamed of a golden dream.

The poem I’d found before is at the end of the next paragraph:

I am composed of two elements, intellect and animal instinct. Both are above average. My intellect tells, and proves logically that there is nothing to life, that it is a barren and empty bauble to which to cling. My animal instinct commands that I live in spite of Hell and damnation. My intellect sees, knows, and realizes; my instinct gropes blindly in the dark, like a blindfolded giant, seeing nothing, knowing nothing except the tremendous urge to exist. It does not reason, it does not weigh cause and result, nor seek the why and wherefore. All that it knows is Life and toward life it grasps and clutches as a tree gropes to the light. Deep in my bosom I lock him, the giant that grips me to life the floods of Eternity rock him, his talons drip red with the strife. He in the shadows is brooding, away from the light of my brain, but his hands are forever intruding, he anchors my soul with a chain.

Some more tweaking and we get these two quatrains:

Deep in my bosom I lock him,
The giant that grips me to life,
The floods of Eternity rock him,
His talons drip red with the strife.

He in the shadows is brooding,
Away from the light of my brain,
But his hands are forever intruding,
He anchors my soul with a chain.

I would not be surprised if there are more undiscovered bits of verse hiding in Howard’s correspondence. Let the hunt begin!

This entry filed under Howard's Poetry, Tevis Clyde Smith.

Robert E. Howard House Museum

Well, looks like it is time to geared up for Howard Days 2013. Hard to believe it is only two months from now that everyone will be gathering in Cross Plains for the two day celebration of the life and works of Robert E. Howard. The theme of this year’s Howard Days is “REH in the Comics.” To bolster that theme, REHupa OE Bill Cavalier posted recently on the REHupa website that TGR contributor Timothy Truman will be this year’s Guest of Honor. Truman is a Renaissance Man of many talents: writer, artist, musician, editor, etc. Currently, Truman is writing Dark Horse’s adaptation of The Hour of the Dragon.

Here is the preliminary schedule of events and activities:

2013 Howard Days Schedule (Summary Version)

Friday, June 7th:

8:30 – 9:00 am: Coffee and donuts at the Pavilion, compliments of Project Pride.

9:00 am – 4:00 pm: Robert E. Howard House Museum open to the public.

9:00 am – 4:00 pm: REH Postal Cancellation at Cross Plains Post Office.

9:00 am – 11:00 am: Bus Tour of Cross Plains and Surrounding Areas.

10:00 am – 5:00 pm: Cross Plains Public Library open.

11:00 am: PANEL: REH in the Comics.

Noon: Lunch hosted by Project Pride. Donations Welcome.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm: Pavilion available for REH items Swap Meet.

1:30 pm: PANEL: Tim Truman, Guest of Honor.

2:30 pm: PANEL: Travels with Bob, Rob and Bob

5:30 – 6:30 pm: Silent Auction items available for viewing and bidding at Banquet site.

6:30 pm: Robert E. Howard Celebration Banquet and Silent Auction at the Cross Plains Community Center.

Following the Banquet and Silent Auction: The Fourth Annual Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards.

9:00 pm: PANEL: Fists at the Ice House (meet at the Pavilion and walk to the Ice House).

Afterward there will be some extemporaneous REH Poetry Reading at the Pavilion.

Saturday, June 8th

9 am – 4 pm: Robert E. Howard House Museum open to the public.

9:00 am – 4:00 pm: BARBARIAN FESTIVAL held this year at Treadway Park, 3 blocks west of REH House.

10:00 am – 3:00 pm: Cross Plains Public Library open.

10:30 am: PANEL: REH and Dark Horse Comics.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm: Pavilion available for REH items Swap Meet.

Noon: The Robert E. Howard Foundation Legacy Circle Members Luncheon.

Lunch and Festival Activities at your leisure during the day.

2:00 pm: PANEL: REH and Texas.

3:30 pm: PANEL: What’s Up with REH? (at the Pavilion).

5:00 pm: Sunset BBQ at the Caddo Peak Ranch.

Note: The Robert E. Howard House Museum will be open again this year on Thursday (June 6th) from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. No docents on duty.

 Howard Days Pre-Registration

You do not have to pre-register to partake of the weekend’s festivities. All are welcome to attend, visit the House and enjoy all of the activities free of charge. Project Pride likes to pre-register folks primarily to get a head count of how many will be attending the Banquet on Friday night. All the panels, tours, Swap Meet, Pavilion activities e, etc.,are presented at no cost.

Your registration fee covers coffee & donuts Friday morning, lunch at the Pavilion at noon on Friday, the Friday Evening Banquet and the Saturday evening BBQ at Caddo Peak Ranch.

The cost for pre-registration this year is only $15.00 per person. Please send your name(s) and address with a check or money order:

Project Pride
Attn: REH Days 2013 Pre-Registration
P.O. Box 534
Cross Plains, TX 76443

Or you can or register via PayPal:

Please pre-register before June 1, 2013.

As you can see, it will be a Howard Days to remember. So don’t procrastinate, sign up now — there are only 120 seats available for the banquet. Be sure and check back here, on the TGR Facebook page and the follow new TGR Twitter account for further details.


And for you Legacy Circle Members, if you have not done so, there are only a few days left to get your nominations for the REHF Awards submitted for awards that will be given out at this year’s Howard Days banquet.


1502 — Reuben Kane and Hildred Taferal born in Devon, Reuben in April, Hildred in August. Reuben is the child of poor fisher-folk in the coastal village of Salcombe, Hildred a scion of gentry living in a manor house outside Kingsbridge. Hildred is a younger son; Reuben has two brothers and two sisters.

1511-1516 — Reuben grows up on fishing boats and has acquaintance with the smugglers and pirates who abound along England’s southern coasts. His father, injured at sea and unable to fish thereafter, works in the Taferal stables. Reuben assists him. He and Hildred get into scrapes together, both being venturesome and bold. Hildred, as a matter of course learning horsemanship and the sword, shares this knowledge with Reuben. They practice fencing together with sticks. Reuben for his part aids Hildred to enjoy boyish adventures on boats, and to become associated with a gang of smugglers.

The 1520s — Hildred becomes a soldier and travels on the continent, taking Reuben with him as his second-in-command. He becomes a condottiere of note in the Italian Wars. Reuben, however, becomes the better swordsman. He studies with a master of the Dardi school, the great Achille Marozzo.

At one time Hildred and Reuben attempt a mission for Cardinal Wolsey. Its purpose is to establish an Anglo-French alliance to break the Emperor Charles’ domination of Italy so that the Pope can safely annul Henry VIII’s first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon. Despite this and other gambits, Wolsey fails and falls from power.

Hildred and Reuben encounter Agnes de Chastillon, the “Sword Woman”, and her comrade Etienne Villiers. The encounter is friendly. At the sack of Rome Reuben meets the hot-headed Benvenuto Cellini, hears him boasting of having shot the Duc de Bourbon, and challenges him. He beats Cellini but spares his life upon discovering what an artist he is.

At home, Hildred’s brother Martin marries Edwina Denham.

1528-30 — Hildred and Reuben return to Devon, as close as brothers or closer than most. They woo and win their respective wives, marry at the same time, and proceed to father children. Reuben soon has a son and a daughter, Nathaniel and Violet. They are born in 1530 and 1532, respectively. Nathaniel will be Solomon Kane’s father.

1531-34 — Francisco Pizarro conquers the Inca Empire.

1535 — Reuben Kane’s wife Susannah dies bearing their third child. Reuben is shattered.

1536 — Hildred Taferal’s nephew John is born.

Map of Solway Moss AreaThe 1540s — Hildred and Reuben serve in Henry VIII’s wars against Scotland. They fight at Solway Moss (a disaster for Scotland) and in 1544 march with the Earl of Hertford, to enforce a betrothal between the infant Mary Queen of Scots and King Henry’s son Edward (later Edward VI).

They are also involved in the Italian War of 1542-46, in which Henry VIII takes part. An army of 40,000 men goes to Calais, but with little result. Politically, that is. Reuben Kane, eight years a widower now, does find his second wife, a Picardy girl of Protestant leanings named Lisette of Chauny. Given her religious beliefs, she’s safer in England. She will become mother to three of Solomon Kane’s aunts and two of his uncles.

1547 — Henry VIII dies early in the year. Hertford — now Duke of Somerset, with the title of “Protector” – continues England’s efforts in Scotland.

1548 — Reuben and Hildred return to Scotland as soldiers, under the command of Lord Grey of Wilton. The jocularly named “Rough Wooing” is a merciless, beastly business. The English relentlessly devastate southern Scotland, and the Scots play football with English prisoners’ heads.

Hildred gains the rank of baron; he’s now Hildred, Lord Taferal. He and Reuben Kane are both glad to return to their homes and wives. Hildred has children, but they die young and Hildred eventually passes away without issue. Reuben, on the other hand, has fathered (by his first wife) Nathaniel, Violet and Hester. Lisette, his second wife, bears Travers, Alcina, Joan (after Joan of Arc), and the twins Peter and Edith.

1549 — Franciscan monk Diego de Landa arrives in Yucatan to bring the Catholic faith to the Mayans. His first appointment is to the mission of San Antonio in Izamal. He’s a zealous man, to the point of fanaticism, which the Maya will have cause to lament.

1553 — Future English pirate and renegade corsair Jack Ward born in Faversham, Kent.

1554 — Solomon Kane is born at Salcombe, the son of Reuben Kane’s son Nathaniel and Nathaniel’s wife Dymphna, during the reign of Mary Tudor, or “Bloody Mary”.

1557 — The Portuguese gain a foothold in Macao. King of Spain bankrupt.

John Dee and Elizabeth I1558 — The Emperor Charles V dies. “Bloody Mary” also dies. Solomon Kane is now four years old. Mary’s sister Elizabeth ascends the throne of England. The magician John Dee, once well regarded at Mary’s court but then imprisoned for a time, has helped Elizabeth escape beheading by his arts, and will be much in the new monarch’s favor.

1559 — In June, at the betrothal of his daughter Elizabeth to Philip II of Spain, King Henri of France takes part in the jousting, wearing the black-and-white colors of his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Jousting against Gabriel, Comte de Montgomery, he receives fatal injuries and on the 10th of July he dies. From that day his queen, Catherine de Medici, takes a broken lance as her emblem, and the motto, “Lacrymae hinc, hinc dolor.” (“From this come my tears and my pain.”) The king’s death was prophesied by Nostradamus, then living and in great favor with Catherine.

1560 — The Roman Church is overthrown and Protestantism is established as the national religion in Scotland.

Solomon Kane is taught the sword from an early age by his grandfather Reuben.

1562 — Diego de Landa conducts the infamous auto-da-fe of Mani, at which some forty Mayan codices and 20,000 cult images are burned. He is recalled to Spain on charges of excessive violence and overstepping his authority.

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This entry filed under Howard Scholarship, Howard's Fiction.

It has been too long since we caught up with Charles Saunders. So let’s see what this longtime contributor to TGR has been up to recently.

Charles just put up a new blog post up on his website. It’s a reprint of an article called “Blacks in Wonderland,” which was first published in the October 1987 issue of American Visions of Afro-American Culture magazine. It was an overview of the situation of blacks in the science-fiction and fantasy genres at that time. Charles updates the article with a foreword and an afterword, reflecting how things have certainly changed for the better since then.

Per Charles, Griots II and Imaro V are on the horizon for this year. Griots II is subtitled “Sisters of the Spear,” so all the stories are about women warriors. Charles will also have a story in the forthcoming anthology Black Pulp. Currently, you can find an introduction by Charles to Ki-Khanga: The Anthology e-book available from The stories are based on characters in the Ki Khanga Sword and Soul Role Playing Game.

Of course, next year he will mark the 40th anniversary of the publication of the very first Imaro story in Gene Day’s Dark Fantasy magazine by doing something special to commemorate the occasion.

And Charles has also posted the interview he did for The Cimmerian print journal in 2007. The interview was conducted by the late, great Howard scholar and TGR contributor Steve Tompkins.

This entry filed under Charles R. Saunders, News, Sword & Sorcery.