Thursday, January 20, 2000

Pirate tales, written by the creator of Conan

Black Vulmea's Vengeance (Donald E Grant Publisher, 1976)
Author: Robert E. Howard
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

Donald E. Grant produced this and other deluxe volumes of R. E. Howard's stories a couple of decades ago, focusing primarily on the ever-popular Conan tales.
Well, like the six volumes of the Bean R.E. Howard Library (which, among other things, collected all the Bran Mac Morn, Solomon Kane, and King Kull tales in single, affordable volumes), Black Vulmea's Vengance collects a handful of Howard efforts that showed that he could create heroes, action, and character interplays far more interesting than anything found in his most famous stories.

Two stories and the novella found in this volume can either be read as top-notch pirate stories, or they can be read as typical Howard action tales. What *isn't* quite typical Howard, though, is the presence of female characters that display a bit more depth than one usually finds in his work.

Considering the relative age of this book and the fact that I received a first edition when I ordered it, I imagine that there are only a limited number of these left. I urge all Howard fans, as well as those who appreciate well-written adventure fiction, to order a copy. The price is definately right for these fine, hard-to-find tales. The book would have received Ten Stars if the colour plates present had been better executed. They were the only dissapointing aspect of this hardcover collection.