Armies of Night

Solomon Kane: The Hills of the Dead by Robert E. Howard with Ramsey Campbell containing the following stories:“The Hills of the Dead”,  “Hawk of Basti” (Completed by Ramsey Campbell), “The Return of Sir Richard Grenville” (poem), “Wings in the Night”, “The Footfalls Within”, “The Children of Asshur” (Completed by Ramsey Campbell), “Solomon Kane’s Homecoming” (poem) and “The Mystery of Solomon Kane” (Introduction) by Ramsey Campbell (1928-1968; 1979):

Bantam’s second (and last) 1970’s volume of the adventures of Robert E. Howard’s quasi-Puritan monster-fighter takes place mostly in Africa. Not historic Africa, but an Africa almost as fantastic as the world of Conan the Barbarian. Howard aficiando and acclaimed horror writer Ramsey Campbell finishes two Howard fragments here, to solid effect — the seams don’t show.

This time out, Kane battles an army of vampires, an army of carnivorous hawkmen, a couple of lost civilizations, and an unnameable Cthulhuian horror. He gets a lot of help from his African magician pal N’Longa and from the ancient staff N’Longa gives him to fight evil with, a staff the stories tell us may predate the existence of the Earth itself. Solomon Kane fights for an ostenibly Christian God, but he does so within a fantastic framework that resembles H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, one in which evolution is taken as a given.

Howard’s racial sensibilities will offend some, though they seem surprisingly progressive in a “White Man’s Burden” sort of way. N’Longa is a great help, and Kane spends a lot of time liberating African slaves or fighting to save villages from terrible supernatural menaces. He’s a real gent. Highly recommended.

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