- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey; Original edition (January 25, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345505468
- ISBN-13: 978-0345505460
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures Paperback – January 25, 2011
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"The Farmer's Son" by John Connell
"A fascinating portrait of a single sensibility, a born noticer, someone on whom nothing is lost, observing birth and death, the landscape, and his own heritage." ―Colm Tóibín, author of "Brooklyn" Learn more
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"There's no denying [Howard's] ability to craft epic tales with memorable characters in well-researched, colorful surroundings, including some of history's most volatile periods. An excellent essay by Howard Andrew Jones help put these stories and Howard's career in perspective." --Publishers Weekly
“[Behind Howard’s stories] lurks a dark poetry and the timeless truth of dreams.”—Robert Bloch
“The voice of Robert E. Howard still resonates after decades with readers—equal parts ringing steel, thunderous horse hooves, and spattered blood.”—Eric S. Nylund, author of Halo: The Fall of Reach
“Howard had a gritty, vibrant style—broadsword writing that cut its way to the heart, with heroes who are truly larger than life.”—David Gemmell, author of Legend and Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow
About the Author
Robert E. Howard is one of the most prolific short story writers in American history, and has created such beloved characters as Conan the Barbarian, Kull of Atlantis, Soloman Kane, Bran Mak Morn, El Borak, and Dark Agnès de Chastillon. He tragically passed away in 1936.
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Howard’s writing throws you into the action, vividly sketching scenes showing the color of dawn or darkness, the sharp scent of fresh-spilt blood, the grit of dust flying in each battle. Each tale may follow hero and villain in turns, brave knight and errant knave, driven by promise of glory or riches or fame. Most tales herein are set during the various waves of Crusades into the exotic sands and coastlines of the eastern Mediterranean.
Characters loom larger than life and take action almost before you’ve properly met them, or their enemies, and part of the fun is to discover their true motivations. One such grim fighting soul is Cormac FitzGeoffrey in The Blood of Belshazzar and other tales:
“The giant Norman-Celt was an opportunist. He knew that such chance as had led him into the heart of his foe’s stronghold was not likely to favor him again. Life was uncertain in Outremer; if he waited another opportunity to strike at Nureddin and Kosru Malik, that opportunity might not come. This was his best opportunity for the vengeance for which his barbaric soul lusted.” - excerpt from Hawks of Outremer
Robert E. Howard wrote prolifically to meet market demand for his work, diving into his stories, possessed by the need to craft them. I recently watched the film “The Whole Wide World” based on the journals kept by his very close friend Novalyne Price Ellis, and this touching and profound film showcases the passions that drove Howard. Even through the dark days of the Depression and the shrinking of spare income, Howard’s stories sold, and the magazines selling such thrilling tales of adventure and romance and thrilling mystery abounded, publishing as often as three times per month.
“‘Such eyes had Editha,’ said he softly. ‘Aye, child, your face bears me back half a century. You shall not fall into the hands of the heathen while the last Saxon king can lift a sword. I have drawn my blade in many a less worthy brawl on the red roads I have walked. I will draw it again, little one.’” - The Road of Azrael
Howard could have brought so much wonderful storytelling into the world, had he lived beyond the tender age of 30. Had he seen what came later in so many genres: mystery, fantasy, horror, and beyond. He not only wrote prolifically, he loved the research involved in his craft. Fascinating would have been Howard’s approach, as he might have explored and applied his prodigious talent and writing skill.
In the Appendices of this volume, Howard Andrew Jones wrote a helpful study about REH’s writings, entitled “Howard’s Journey: Historical Influences to Historical Triumphs” and it tidily sums up the world, attitudes and time in which these stories were created, explaining the pulp market and the battle of popularity each genre suffered over the years. I found this a helpful way to wrap up the reading of this exciting book.
The two stories and one fragment about Dark Agnes, the Sword Woman herself, never saw publication during Howard’s life, possibly due to the greater demand for male protagonists and the more typical plots of sword and sorcery, adventure and mystery tales. Set in France in the mid-1500s, she was born Agnes de le Fere and her bold spirit flares in contrast to the conventional thinking about women in similar swashbuckling tales:
“‘Ever the man in men!’ I said between my teeth. ‘Let a woman know her proper place: let her milk and spin and sew and bake and bear children, nor look beyond her threshold or the command of her lord and master! Bah! I spit on you all! There is no man alive who can face me with weapons and life, and before I die, I’ll prove it to the world. Women! Cows! Slaves! Whimpering, cringing serfs, crouching to blows, revenging themselves by — taking their own lives, as my sister urged me to do. Ha! You deny me a place among men? By God, I’ll live as I please and die as God wills, but if I’m not fit to be a man’s comrade, at least I’ll be no man’s mistress. So go ye to hell, Guiscard de Clisson, and may the devil tear your heart!’” - Sword Woman
Sword Woman covers his short stories regarding women protagonists in historical fiction. These aren't wilting flowers, these are women to be respected and feared, capable of cutting their own swath through battle. One character, Sonya, appears to be the inspiration for "Red Sonja" popularized by Marvel Comics and the horrible 80s movie. There's even some sort of lawsuit between the Howard Estate and the copyright holders to "Red Sonja" that was finally settled a while back.
Howard's warrior women wore practical clothing, no chainmail bikini armor here. They earned respect, demanded respect, and when that failed, took respect by force.
Recommended for easy reading.