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‘Like Souls in Torment’
The Temple of Abomination (Outline) by Robert E. Howard
Reading from Cormac Mac Art, Baen, 1995, pages 205-209
Howard’s outline is nearly identical to the incomplete story for the first two pages, then varies drastically. Of course, this is the seed, the outline as inspiration. In the outline, Cormac explores the temple alone, cleaves the fiend, and then retreats to the Vikings and tells the chief to send his men in and does not accompany them. This is a very realistic heroic behavior, in that he took the extreme risk of facing horror alone, informs the war band and then stays behind as they crash in to do their part.
In the incomplete story, Cormac is psychologically up-gunned to a more committed personality, like a Conan, who is as eager to lead as to forge on alone. In the outline Cormac is a taboo personality type, a shamanic figure.
The dialogue between three members of the band is unusual for Howard and is quite appealing in this scene.
The best aspect of the outline is the following passage of relentlessly dark atmospherics, blamed on the “slime of decadent Greece”:
“Anthropoid, leprous shadows loping down colossal black basaltic corridors of pulsing, inhuman night. Mowing slavering abominations of an Elder world squatting on a lone bare hill in a grisly ring, howling brain-shattering incantations to a hag-moon. Titanic shapes of blasphemy and gibbering madness growling out of the night and silence of a midnight oak forest.”
White in the Savage Night: A Politically Incorrect Life In Words: 2016
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