Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Red Shadows" by Robert E. Howard

Source: LibriVox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 1 hr, 2 min
Reader: Paul Siegel

The story: Robert E. Howard is probably best known for his muscular barbarian, Conan the Cimmerian. This story introduces one of Howard's other great action-adventure characters, Solomon Kane. While Conan is hedonistic anti-hero, Kane is a Puritan and a righteous avenger of God. With his adventures set in the early 1600s, Kane pursues his enemies with rapier and flintlock, exacting divine vengeance with a dour visage.

In this story, Kane finds a young woman, raped and dying and vows to kill the leader of the bandits that murdered her and looted her village. Kane's pursuit ranges across continents and into the heart of dark Africa. This is a story full of slashing swords and purple prose. Howard is one of the better pulp fiction magazine writers and his stories crackle with action. This story, and those like it, are one of my favorite literary guilty pleasures.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Siegel's expressive narration adds to the atmosphere of dark adventure. He adopts a variety of accents that sound as if they came from 1920s radio villains, as befits this type of pulpy story. The recording has a bit of hiss that I could detect, but nothing distracting.

(Cover image from SFFaudio)

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