First Look at the New “Swords” Books From Bison


Howard Andrew Jones, fantasy author, editor and the man who gave Harold Lamb to the twenty-first century, just put the news out over the æther that the final two volumes in Bison Books’ “Harold Lamb Library” are available for pre-order and will ship on May Day, 2010. Y’all feast your eyes on these tasty blurbs…

Swords From the Sea:

Vikings, pirates, heroes, rogues, and explorers . . . all have heard the siren call of the sea, and master storyteller Harold Lamb chronicled some of their most daring exploits. This single volume contains all of Lamb’s historical seafaring stories, drawn from rare and fragile pulp magazines. Never before collected, these short stories and novels are a treasure trove of adventure. Best known for his stirring tales of Cossacks and crusaders, Lamb was no stranger to swashbuckling, and his sea stories deliver it in buckets.

Written On the Hearts of Men: Swords From the Desert


These fragmentary histories were jotted down on “date leaves, bits of leather, shoulder blades, stony tablets or the hearts of men.” But, put into words by men born and bred to war who spent most of their lives in the saddle, the written hadith have a real ring to them. Here we find no lengthy memoirs, no monastery-compiled chronicles, or histories written long after events. We have the word-of-mouth narrative of men who were on the scene.

Harold Lamb, in a letter to Adventure magazine, concerning the traditions of the Arabs.

While Swords From the Desert (Bison Books) is a light-weight in page-count when matched against its hefty companion volume, Swords From the West, it definitely holds its own in quality. Weighing in at a “mere” three hundred and seven pages, it’s crammed full with the timeless adventure tales for which Harold Lamb should be more justly renowned.

(Continue reading this post)

The Iron Men Ride: Swords From the West


Adventure was considered the most prestigious pulp magazine in America. It was the very best that the pulps had to offer. And the very best author in Adventure was Harold Lamb.

Robert Weinberg, excerpted from his introduction to Swords From the West

I have been waiting for Swords From the West (or something very like it) for a long time. A massive book (over six hundred pages) bursting at the bindings with tales of conflict and courage, all sprung from the masterful pen of Harold Lamb.

The common thread which connects all the stories in this volume is that each one of the main protagonists are of European extraction. Sometimes their foes are fellow Europeans, other times the antagonists hail from points further East. As series editor, Howard Andrew Jones *, notes in his foreword:

What may be surprising is Lamb’s unprejudiced eye when portraying non-Western peoples. Lamb’s Mongolians and Arabs are painted with the same insight into motivation as his Western protagonists. He takes no shortcuts via stereotype: foreign does not necessarily equate with evil and villains can be found on either side of the cultural divide.

(Continue reading this post)

Harold Lamb: John J.Miller Weighs in at The Wall Street Journal


Lamb’s obituaries in 1962 barely mentioned his fiction. By then, the cheap magazines that had published his yarns were long forgotten except by a few passionate collectors. Like a burial mound’s hidden hoard of treasure, they lay undisturbed, awaiting their rediscovery by Mr. Jones — and now a growing band of admirers.

Such is the coda of John J. Miller’s article concerning Harold Lamb’s career and the publication of Swords From the West, one of a brace of (very recently published) editions collecting Lamb’s work put out by Bison Books.


(Continue reading this post)

New Harold Lamb Collections From Bison Books



Two new books collecting Harold Lamb’s pulp adventure fiction are on the horizon and I could not be happier. Swords From the West and Swords From the Desert are slated to thunder into bookstores this September, courtesy of the Bison Books imprint from the University of Nebraska Press. Scott Oden (who wrote the introduction for Swords From the Desert) and Morgan Holmes have both weighed in on their respective blogs. I thought I would toss in my two debased dinars.

(Continue reading this post)

A Review of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13

My copy of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13 came in the post on the same day that a long-awaited guest arrived. Due to previously scheduled essays, I’m only now getting around to singing this issue’s praises. Morgan Holmes has already weighed in on the REHupa site, but I hope that this review will complement his.

I must admit that I never read the earlier issues of “TGR” when they were published back in the 1970s. I was but a wee lad back then. However, I have perused the “Out of Print” section on Damon C. Sasser’s website. REH: Two-Gun Raconteur has always been a worthy publication, mixing real Howardian scholarship, quality art and fannish fun. That was definitely my impression when I bought the first “relaunch” issue in 2003.

REH: Two-Gun Raconteur #13 greets you with a full-color cover depicting Kull and Brule whaling away at serpent-men. Sasser went with color covers (one of the advancements of civilization we can all be thankful for) a while back. That move got my unequivocal support at the time, and this cover changes that opinion not one whit.


(Continue reading this post)

Harold Lamb continues his comeback


Howard Jones, Managing Editor at Black Gate and the major Harold Lamb scholar working today (see his website dedicated to Lamb), has announced on his blog that the four volumes of Lamb’s Cossack stories published by the University of Nebraska’s Bison Books imprint have sold well enough for Bison to agree to publish a further three volumes of Lamb’s best work.

For those of us who have enjoyed the Lamb books Bison has published to date, this is great news. Harold Lamb was one of Robert E. Howard’s all-time favorite authors, a regular in top-tier pulps like Adventure as well as many other popular magazines of the day. He was also a scholar of barbaric times and cultures, and his many biographies and histories remain valuable. Just a few months back I heard popular radio talk-show host Michael Savage off-handedly recommending Lamb’s biography of Genghis Khan to listeners, a tome I myself recently found at a used bookstore’s going-out-of-business sale.

Reading Harold Lamb’s work today, one can see why REH was so taken with his writing. While he lacks the primal fire and prose poetry that fuels Howard at his best, Lamb was the superior plotter, expertly utilizing the pulp template to lace his thrilling tales of warfare and derring-do with enough twists and turns to make a Stygian wizard’s head spin. His stories about the elderly but still feral Khlit the Cossack struck me as a shadowy glimpse into how Conan might have looked and acted at that age, had Howard ever gotten around to writing about his twilight years.

Jones promises that the three new volumes will contain much of Lamb’s very best work. Crusader yarns, Mongol stories, Viking tales. Robert E. Howard fans who value books like Lord of Samarcand will have a lot of fun with Lamb’s breakneck pacing and deft evocation of the Middle East during the Middle Ages. These days it’s all too rare to find and enjoy pulp pleasures of the kind offered by writers like REH and Lamb. meaning collected short stories that can be leisurely read, one per night, over a glass of wine — the perfect sedative to a hard day spent at the office.

So if you haven’t yet, pick up the four Cossack volumes, and keep an eye out for the next three. REH adored these tales, and you will too.

A Haven for Sword-and-Sorcery


Howard Andrew Jones has been a good friend of Robert E. Howard scholarship for years. Best known as the guy who’s been studying, publishing, and popularizing the work of Adventure writer Harold Lamb, he has often used Lamb’s work to cast insight into REH’s. Readers of the V3n11 issue of TC (November 2006) know that Jones was a staunch defender of Two-Gun on one of the REH-themed panels at the 2006 World Fantasy Convention, thoroughly rebutting some “REH was juvenile” evaluations of our favorite Texan’s style.

Jones has recently become the editor at Black Gate magazine. While the publication has always tipped its hat to Sword-and-Sorcery and the classic writers who made the genre what it is, under Jones’ editorship it is slated to become even more of a repository for the latest and greatest in rugged fantastic adventure writing. Cimmerian proofreader, blogger, and regular contributor Steve Tompkins has already published a tribute to David Gemmell at the Black Gate website, and Cimmerian contributor Darrell Schweitzer has landed items in the magazine — in fact, an evaluation of Darrell’s fantasy writing is available there.

I especially liked the recent entry at the Black Gate blog, which details Mr. Jones’ foray into the massive BG slush pile. He constructs a fine list of clichés and problems with most of the stories he receives, warnings that potential authors would be wise to heed when writing their own efforts.

Fans of Howard’s desert adventure writing will definitely want to check out all of the great Harold Lamb books Jones has been willing into print over the past few years. Amazon now has the complete Khlit the Cossack stories of Lamb available in four volumes: Wolf of the Steppes, Warriors of the Steppes, Riders of the Steppes, and Swords of the Steppes. Jones notes on his Curved Saber website dedicated to Lamb that L. Sprague de Camp said of these stories:

They are tales of wild adventure, full of swordplay, plots, treachery, startling surprises, mayhem, and massacre, laid in the most exotic setting that one can imagine and still stay in a known historical period on this planet.

Pretty cool endorsement, I think you’ll agree. And note that, further on down the homepage of the site, Jones reveals that he got his Lamb collection from none other than John D. Clark, who once wrote to Robert E. Howard way back in 1936, and who later was involved in editing the Conan stories for hardcover in the 1950s. Small world.

As if all of that isn’t enough, Jones was also instrumental in creating and growing the foremost website dedicated to Sword-and-Sorcery, the aptly-named Lots of interviews, stories, reviews, and other material for the fantasy and S&S enthusiast, including several Howard related items.

So scoop up those Lamb books to get a major Howardian style fix of adventure fiction, and if you are a lover of Sword-and-Sorcery, do yourself a favor and subscribe (and submit) to Black Gate. With the proper editing and the right fan base, it could slowly grow into a modern answer to the great venues and authors of old.