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El Borak and Other Desert Adventures Paperback – Feb 9 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Original edition (Feb. 9 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034550545X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345505453
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #260,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Howard’s writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks.”—Stephen King

“Howard had a gritty, vibrant style—broadsword writing that cut its way to the heart, with heroes who are truly larger than life.”—David Gemmell 

“For stark, living fear . . . what other writer is even in the running with Robert E. Howard?”—H. P. Lovecraft

About the Author

Robert E. Howard was born January 22, 1906, southwest of Fort Worth. His father, a country physician, moved the family around Texas before settling in the small town of Cross Plains in 1919. While in high school, Howard began submitting stories to magazines, and Weird Tales magazine accepted Spear and Fang. Solomon Kane was the first of his continuing characters to see print; others included King Kull and Bran Mak Morn. Howard tried detective fiction, horror, and Paul Bunyanesque tales, then in 1933, Weird Tales introduced Conan the Cimmerian. In 1935 his mother was admitted to the King's Daughters Hospital. Told she would never recover, he committed suicide in 1936.

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By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Feb. 24 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Del Rey has done it again in bringing yet another fantastic compilation of Robert E. Howard's work. At over 550 pages, this is the biggest compilation yet. It focuses on Howard's "desert" adventures. They feature tough, fast, and dangerous men who have been able to carve out a precarious living amongst the tough Asian desert lands and their peoples. An appendix called "Gunfighters of the East" is an appropriate summary. These stories are not his most well-known, yet they sold exceptionally well towards the end of his brief career. Some were later poached by L. Sprague de Camp and butchered into Conan tales (e.g., Three-Bladed Doom was re-written as "The Flame Knife"). Readers familiar with those stories can see how they fare as originally written. Personally, I really like these stories, particularly the El Borak stories. While the plots are rarely complex, the action is awesome. Most of the stories have little to no magic in them, so they're just straight-up action from around the 1920's. What I found particularly interesting is how well Howard's description of Afghani warriors and peoples holds up to much of what we have witnessed over the last twenty to thirty years in that country. The introduction by the late Steve Tompkins (who only just passed away) is superb, as are the copious drawings by Tim Bradstreet (who draws photograph-like drawings in only black and white, no grey) and Jim & Ruth Keegan (whose work reminds me of Gary Gianni).

They include:
Swords of the Hills
The Daughter of Erlik Khan
Three-Bladed Doom
Hawks of the Hills
Blood of the Gods
Sons of the Hawk
Son of the White Wolf
Gold from Tatary
Swords of Shahrazar
The Trail of the Blood-Stained God
The Fire of Asshurbanipal
Three-Bladed Doom (original manuscript)
Unfinished fragment

If you love Howard or if you love action and adventure, this collection is highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ed4fc18) out of 5 stars 21 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f3f8654) out of 5 stars In the spirit of Lamb and Mundy... Feb. 11 2010
By Jay - Published on
Format: Paperback
As an anthology of Robert Howard's nonfantastic Arabian adventures, this book is top-notch. Although less well known than his justifiably famous Conan, Howard's El Borak, Steve Clarney, and Kirby O'Donnell are all powerful characters who dominate the tales Howard writes about them. Of all the stories, Three-Bladed Doom--the long version--is probably the best though I can't think of any I wouldn't recommend. The action is suitably bloodthirsty and well described while Howard's trademark breathless pace is evident throughout each of these desert yarns. As noted in the title of my review, the influence of Harold Lamb and Talbot Mundy is present although subtle at times even as Howard makes this material original enough to be identifiable as his. Thankfully the editors did the yeoman's work of giving us copious background material in both the introduction and the afterword even as the shorter version of Three-Bladed Doom and an untitled O'Donnell fragment serve as a miscellaneous appendix. Appropriately for the material, the artwork is shadowy and gritty much like the characters. This is an improvement for the Keegan's, whose artistic contributions to the Best of Robert E Howard volumes earlier in this series were not nearly up to the level of the artwork by other artists in other volumes. Overall, this is a fine addition to Del Rey's brilliant series, and I hope the publisher plans to continue. Maybe next time they can focus on his westerns or a two-volume collection of all his boxing stories. I hope so anyway.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f3f86a8) out of 5 stars An absolute blast Jan. 7 2011
By James Patrick Conlon - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was in a book store and unable to find what I was looking for, namely early 20th century setting, non-fantasy exotic adventure until I stumbled upon this. (When did the SciFi/Fantasy section become a spill over zone for Romance novels?) While I knew of Howard's King Kull, Solomon Kane and, of course, Conan, I had never heard of El Borak. Since it was the only thing in the store matching what I wanted to read, I picked it up.

This new-to-me character is, like Howard's other protagonists, an adventurer, but Howard did not create clones. Francis Xavier Gordon has no discernible interest in wealth, tries to smooth things over between conflicting friends and, for those inexperienced enough to be romantics, there is a... wait for it... hand holding scene. Not being entirely without sentimentalism, I thought it was a nice touch from the master of skull cleaving fiction.

The prose is clear, lyrical in places, fast and furious. Mr. Howard knew his craft well.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f3f8ae0) out of 5 stars Howards Best Non-Conan or Kane Work June 10 2010
By Tim Janson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Robert E. Howard is best known as the creator of Swords & Sorcery heroes like Conan, Kull, and Solomon Kane. But Howard was nothing if not pragmatic as a writer. Working during the Great Depression, Howard went where the work was in sold in any market--any genre he could to make money. Some of Howard's best work in fact was in the field of adventure fiction where he created characters such as Francis Xavier Gordon, aka El Broak, a gunfighter and adventurer from Texas, and Irish American treasure hunter Kirby O'Donnell. These were both early 20th century characters, set in the 1920s, post World War I against the exotic backdrop of the Middle East. Seven El Borak tales and three O'Donnell tales are collected together in this huge new volume and restored back to the definitive Howard version with their original titles. Several stories did not see publication until after Howard's death and thus some of the titles had been altered when previously published.

"Son of the White Wolf" has Gordon on the trail of Turkish troops under the command of Germans who wipe out a village and steal all the women including a beautiful German spy. Gordon sets out to rescue her and get revenge.

In "The Daughter of Erlik Khan" Gordon must rescue a runway princess from the husband who wants her returned and executed and has hired a pair of English assassins to do the deed.

"The Lost Valley of Iskander" finds Gordon discovering a lost civilization that dates back to the time of Alexander the Great and an evil king who wants him dead.

"Three-Bladed Doom" is the longest tale, near novel in length, as Gordon has to track down a ruthless cult that is killing regional leaders who are loyal to the British.

In "The Curse of the Crimson God" O'Donnell is on the trail of a stolen treasure map that leads to a fabulous jeweled idol call the Bloodstained God.

The O'Donnell stories have a distinct "Indiana Jones" type of feel to them as O' Donnell is disguised as an Arab, Ali el Ghazi for much of the time. The stories are filled with a lot of intrigue and loads of two-fisted, sword-swinging, gun-blazing action. These two heroes are more than just modern day versions of Conan. They each have their own unique character traits that set them apart from Howard's other characters. If you love Conan, Kull, or Solomon Kane, you owe it to yourself to check out this collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f3f8ea0) out of 5 stars Escapist adventure tales for everyone June 19 2015
By bugsplat - Published on
Format: Paperback
I bought this from my local book store because I've been a REH fan since I was a teen in the 60's. Some of the stories have been printed into other earlier collections of Howard's works. Most of these stories were written later in Howard's career when he had hit his literary stride. These stories are outstanding. They are pure adventure stories that set the hook deep at the outset of each story. For all readers who are familiar with his Conan, King Kull, and Solomon Kane adventures, will be entertained by these stories. If escapist reading is your means of relaxation, I can do no better than to recommend this volume.

However, being a Howard devotee' for many decades, within one of the stories there has been a changed ending. "The Fire of Asshurbannipal" was published in the scintillating collection of Howard's stories in the Lancer 1967 pb edition titled "WOLFSHEAD" with the Frazetta cover art. This story was published not long after L.Sprague de Camp took over control of the papers and writings of Howard's from estate executor Glen Lord. De Camp, a fantasy/swords and sorcery fiction writer himself, may have changed the story ending to make it more marketable in de Camp's estimation. Comparing the story ending in the Lancer edition is different from the story ending in "EL BORAK". Though the ending is significantly different in the Lancer edition and not the intended ending as in the EL BORAK, as written by Howard himself. Though the endings are different, they are both worthy of consideration and very good.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f3f8f84) out of 5 stars Great Pulp Fiction Aug. 31 2014
By Milo of Croton - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great format, especially since these pulp fiction stories have appeared in less durable paperback format. My originals did not survive Hurricane Andrew and were cheaply made to begin with so a durable version is very welcome. Astute Howard readers may recognize some parts of these stories as having been used in stories of other Howard heroes. Sheer escapism although current events make some of the references more familiar.