Over at the Official Robert E. Howard Forum, Paradox rep Jay Zetterberg proffered REH fandom the lowdown regarding the final contents of El Borak and Other Desert Adventures. This volume, due out February 2, 2010 from Del Rey/Ballantine, looks like another keeper. For those not willing or able to click over to conan.com, I reproduce the table of contents (and submit some random thoughts of my own) below.
Introduction (Steve Tompkins)
Sword of the Hills
The Daughter of Erlik Khan
Three-Bladed Doom (long)
Hawk of the Hills
Blood of the Gods
Sons of the Hawk
Son of the White Wolf
Gold from Tartary
Swords of Shahrazar
Trail of the Blood-Stained God
The Fire of Asshurbanipal
Three-Bladed Doom (short)
Untitled Fragment (“Feel the edge, dog, and move not!”)
Gunfighters of the Wild East (David A. Hardy)
Notes on the Original Howard Texts
Looks like a solid package to me. It’s easy to see why the Publishers Weekly reviewer liked it. The “Artists’ Forewords” should be interesting. I’m especially looking forward to what Tim Bradstreet has to say, since I’ve never read his opinions regarding Robert E. Howard.
If anyone ever mentioned that Steve Tompkins had written the introduction to this volume, I wasn’t aware of it. That is fantastic news. One of the first things I ever read by Tompkins was his “There’s a White Wolf on the Ottoman” essay from The Dark Man #6. The man had real insights regarding Francis X. Gordon. I’m assuming that this will be the last such piece we will ever see from the keyboard of Mr. Tompkins. Howard Studies will feel that lack in the future.
“Gold from Tartary” had me slightly bemused until I realized that it must be an alternate title for the Kirby O’Donnell yarn, “The Treasures of Tartary.” Some of the El Borak titles may also sound unfamiliar to long-time REH fans. I suggest going here to sort things out. I’m looking forward to reading the “Untitled Fragment,” which, according to Paul Herman, is the first four pages of an alternate version of “Swords of Shahrazar.” I’ve also never read the “short version” of “Three-Bladed Doom.” That particular yarn has an interesting history behind it. If you’re curious, click on over to REH: Two-Gun Raconteur and check it out.
David A. Hardy has long been considered one of Howardom’s most knowledgeable and thoughtful scholars in regard to REH’s “desert adventures.” He earned his credibility with ground-breaking, well-researched essays like “The Great Game” and “Indomitable Wildness, Unquenchable Vitality,” both written for The Cimmerian. I have no doubt that Mr. Hardy’s “Gunfighters of the Wild East” will be up to his previous standards.