Book Review: The Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane

Howard, Robert E. The Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane (Del Ray Reprint, 2004) E-book.

Although best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Robert Howard had a number of other memorable protagonists, including the lean Puritan with glittering dark eyes, Solomon Kane. He traveled the world righting wrongs and sending the doers of evil to their fate, whatever that might be. The stories are set in Europe and Africa of the late 1600s, although there are a number of hints and nods to lost civilizations such as Atlantis and Mu. Continue reading

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Miner and Empire: The Hard Part

it took more than just stone to build a smelter. The stones are the easy part for Aedelbert and Caedda.

Thunk. The mattock’s flat face bit into the creamy-grey clay. Aedelbert grunted with effort as he wiggled it loose, prying the lump of clay farther out of the wall of the pit. He raised the tool and brought it down again. He heard a quiet splash behind him, and Caedda’s familiar grunt as he tossed water out of the hole.

“Be nice if the rain had waited,” Caedda said at last. Thunk. They took turns bailing as rainwater oozed and trickled into the trench.

Aedelbert saved his energy for digging. The weather had turned chill and damp, of course. Radmar of the skies they should have called the god, not Radmar of the Wheel. Bad enough to be digging at the edge of a marsh, but the rain… Well, now they knew that the clay would keep water out if anyone needed it for that. The hired cart should return soon, and he wanted to have a good load for it, since they paid by the day, not by weight. Continue reading

Duluth, MN: Some Flying

I had not quite reached the insurance minimums for the plane, so I was flying copilot.

We lift off five minutes before late summer sunrise. As our light twin climbs up to six thousand feet, a molten gold ball spreads over the eastern horizon, turning the few morning clouds purple and gold. Another beautiful, sky-borne sunrise with promises of a sunny warm day in the Plains. But we aim more north and east, heading for (to me) the unexplored territory of Duluth, Minnesota, on the western point of Lake Superior. Threads of fog trace their way south, gray against the green-shaded fields on the river banks. At altitude, a bend in the jet stream adds a welcomed forty knots to our ground speed. Tom points to the mileage ticking down on the GPS read out and smiles. The earlier we arrived, the better our odds of getting home before the morning’s 0300 wake up call starts to show. Our passenger snores quietly, making up for his own early start. Continue reading

Miasmas and Disease

Why do people get sick? The ancient Greeks and their medieval followers thought that an imbalance in the humors could do it, as well as outside forces such as planetary misalignment, and miasmas.

Those of you who have read the Merchant and Empire books know that these disease theories are prevalent in that story-world. Tycho and his physicians (and wife) have a long-running dispute over what he should eat: cooling, moist foods that match his nature, or the hot, crispy fried things he enjoys. He, and others, are also aware of the poisonous exhalations of the earth that they call miasmas. Continue reading

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day…

… the guns on the western front of “the War,” soon to be called the Great War or the World War, fell silent. Fighting in the east continued for another four years, and more if you count the Russian Civil War.

When I was younger, Veterans Day was about veterans and the First World War just happened to end on November 11th. Which is also the feast of St. Martin of Tours. I seem to remember parades, or I might be mis-remembering, because the weather didn’t favor parades in November. Continue reading