- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 41 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: January 13, 2010
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00346KO26
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane Audiobook – Unabridged
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This is, of course, a collection of short stories revolving around a single character, and therefore the character is the most important part Howard's stoic, tough-guy characters are inevitably cut from the same cloth: It is no wonder that his work has been so often adapted into comics, as his protagonists are generally only one or two steps away from what might be defined as a superhero. Indeed, characters such as Conan, El Borak and Solomon Kane all seem like the same person in character, though each with the distinct ideals of their time and place. Solomon Kane is little different from Conan in many ways, aside from his religious grounding in his conviction that it is his mission to destroy evil wherever he finds it. The situations he faces, however, are darker than those faced by Conan - In these tales Robert E. Howard takes great joy and care in describing horrific monsters that would not be out of place in the stories of his correspondent and contemporary H.P. Lovecraft.
That said, each of these stories, while predictable and pretty clear-cut, is not only written with a gleeful sense of ominous darkness but with a fierceness and brutality that can only come from Robert E. Howard. It is difficult not to relish Howard's blow-by-blow descriptions of fight scenes that resemble a sports commentator giving the details of a boxing match over the radio. It is also difficult not to delight in Howard's tough, masculine, ball-busting prose, or his dramatic proclamations about the evil supernatural forces that populate his character's world.
While certainly in these stories there is no complex exploration of morality (it is reiterated quite a few times that Solomon Kane is good and his enemies evil), nor are there many plot twists that truly come as a surprise. However, that is never what Robert E. Howard was about. Instead, in his work a reader will find pure, raw masculine energy, which in the dour puritan adventurer Solomon Kane is given a slightly darker flavor. It is not complex stuff, but Howard's prose and descriptions, like the pounding thump of tribal drums, bespeak the pounding heartbeat of a warrior.
Still, worth every penny. I just wished there were more.
For those searching for background so they can run or play Solomon Kane-themed games, this is your encyclopedia.
The book is well made, though I find most of today's paperback covers a bit on the flimsy side. Fortunately there are no "clever" marketing ploys like cutouts, so the book sits nicely in the hands and doesn't fight the reader or get snagged on clothing.
The cover has a nice color plate depicting the hero, Solomon Kane, and inside there are lavish B&W illustrations and four full-page B&W plates produced specially for this volume. The artwork is nice, but positioned oddly in some places, in the middle of the text, forcing the reader to skip over the space taken up by the drawing, often during a tense action sequence. Why the art was placed like this is a mystery, since had it been to one side or the other the text could have flowed much cleaner. I found this distracting and drop a star for it.
The text has been "restored" by an editorial team, and there are a few pages containing the details of the redactions for the keen collector or scholar of Howard's work.
I almost forgot: There is a forward by the illustrator, and a memorial by H.P. Lovecraft written at the time of Howard's death that serves as an introduction of sorts to the book.
Even though there is a lot of whitespace in this Trade Paperback (a trait of the format that makes me angry usually) the presence of the artwork makes good use of much of it and at least justifies the otherwise wasted tree. In this volume the whitespace serves to present the text and artwork beautifully (for the most part).
All in all an excellent way to get to know Robert E. Howard's Puritan hero.