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‘Imprisoned in its Flat Bosom’
Casonetto’s Last Song by Robert E. Howard
Unpublished until 1973, reading from Del Rey’s The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard, 2006, pages 71-4
Stephen Gordon is a Lovecraftian protagonist—meaning of the intelligently inquisitive but sub-heroic type—employed by Howard in his contemporary horror stories, and replaced in fantasy by Conan’s female co-protagonists. So that the retrospective telling of this tale might be possible, another contemporary Howard hero, the boxing seaman, Costigan, is present to thwart the fascinating sorcery afoot.
In this simple strong concept story, again, a one scene treatment featuring conversing parties, Howard reveals his vision of the sorcerer in a story that may well have been passed over because of its direct treatment of the satanic black mass.
Giovanni Casonetto is an evil operatic genius with a voice so magnetic its range transcends the grave. Here is the villain in his own words:
“Before me stands the shrine unnamable and before it the red-stained altar where many a virgin soul has gone winging up to the dark stars. On all sides hover dark mysterious things, and I hear the swish of mighty wings in the gloom.”
It is also notable that Howard continued to sketch characters of Scottish descent with the sir name Gordon, even as he forever changed the patrimonial name of his dark Irish heroes.
A Well of Heroes
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