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'Like Old King Death'
Rattle of Bones by Robert E. Howard

Reading from The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, 1998, illustrated by Gary Gianni pages 75-83, first published in Weird tales, June 1929

The illustrations of this addition better fit the atmosphere of the stories than any commissioned illustrations I can recall in other such posthumous collaborations between writer and illustrator. Gianni did right by Howard.

"Landlord, ho!" The shout broke the lowering silence and reverberated through the black forest with sinister echoing."

Echoed by the opening passage quoted above, Rattle of Bones is Howard's most direct tale, so there is little sense to examine elements of the plot. It is of interest that Howard exposes Kane for the most vulnerable of his major heroes in this quick story. The cold hand of the grave seems present everywhere Kane turns I this excursion on "the continent," a place he seems to favor less than dour, miser-haunted England and darkest, blood-drinking Africa. In short, Kane is at home in no land—a man adhering to a stark faith to severe for anyone but himself and a code of behavior unmatched by any hero half as unfriendly as Howard's "dour puritan."

Kane's sense of honor, his commitment not to dissemble or lie, puts him in jeopardy as he travels a lonely road through Germany's Black Forest and shares a troubling stay at a sinister tavern attended by an outwardly unsavory innkeeper.

No odd diction Graces these few pages, merely direct dialogue as Solomon Kane's stern and unwavering character is shown to be both his undoing and his salvation, his soft underbelly and his armor of God.

By the Wine Dark Sea

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