Monday, November 19, 2018

‘Each Deathly Eye’

James LaFond's impressions of Death’s Black Riders by Robert E. Howard

Death’s Black Riders is a tiny fragment, an opening scene of pure horror, as the dour Puritan swordsman—an Aryan avenger in Christian disguise—stands before an onrushing image up from Hell, unwavering, not shaken with superstitious dread but rather with the taste of the hunt for evil.

As an image which combines Tolkien’s Nazgul and Washington Erving’s Headless Hessian Horseman, with Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name, the opening scene—for it is a completely realized scene crafted in under 350 words, Kane is uncharacteristically depicted as a horseman.

The power of the scene begs for a full treatment, however, Howard seems to have despaired of selling the resulting story. I am certain had he completed it he would have unhorsed Kane as a self-purification rite before facing not only the rider of the opening scene but those others inferred by the title.  

(c) 2018 James LaFond

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