Saturday, January 16, 2021

‘In A Black Boat’

Swords of the South: Chapter 11 of Robert E. Howard’s The Hour of the Dragon
Reading from pages 164-170 of the DelRey edition

Impressions by James LaFond

Inspired by Osirian mythology, the illustrator has chosen to depict the great dark slave steering the boat of the Asuran dead down the river to the far blue sea, as a jackal-headed Anubis.

Conan is depicted as insatiable for defining action, a rampaging egotist barely able to enforce his own warrior discipline as he steers impatiently downstream to his destiny. Howard describes this as, “The fire of his grinding desire…”

The above passage brings to mind the only historical characters that seems to have been equal to Howard’s fictional barbarian, Harald Hardrada, who died at Stamford Bridge in 1066 and Nathan Bedford Forrest with more horses killed under him than even the fantasy hero.

Howard writes the knights of Poitain, who behave like a cross between Spanish conquistadors and Comanche warriors, as a distinctive breed of fighting man, as he had already depicted the Gundermen, Bossonians and Nemedian adventurers as unique types of fighting men, fighting with crafty ferocity under their leopard banner. 

Conan’s conversation with the Count of Poitain is revealing as Howard imbues the barbarian usurper of a civilized kingdom as having very European American sentiments:

“I have no desire to rule an empire welded together by blood and fire. It is one thing to seize a throne with the aid of its subjects and rule them with their consent. It’s another to subjugate a foreign realm and rule it through fear.”

In this passage, written exactly halfway through America’s bid for world empire, which would result in over 900 military bases on foreign soil and also in it losing its sovereignty to globalist concerns, Howard voiced the standard American belief in isolationist foreign policy of the 1930s, in the wake of their tens of thousands of dead and maimed, that had been and would repeatedly be overcome by fictions so improbably mean that Howard’s fantastical tales stand like pillars of truth by comparison to the contemporary American propaganda, which is even now, 80 years later used in barely rewritten form to mesmerize the ever less intelligent American slave mind into supporting a cause more evil than Xaltotun’s ancient ambitions.  

The character of Conan is authentically meat-headed enough to endear him to some more cerebral readers. 

The closing illustration depicts a raging lion emerging from a crown and holding a battle axe between its paws.

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