Robert E. Howard Readers discussion

13 views
El Borak: Francis Xavier Gordon > March 2012 Group Read: Blood of the Gods

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments This month we're reading one of Robert E. Howard's El Borak stories, Blood of the Gods, which you can find in Son of the White Wolf, El Borak and Other Desert Adventures or to read online here.


message 2: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Have you read this yet ?


message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments Not yet. I've gotta finish A Princess Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs for the millionth time before the movie comes out, then I've got to read The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien for a Group Read at J.R.R. Tolkien. Though, I should possibly get Blood of the Gods squeezed in between them.


message 4: by Mohammed (last edited Mar 01, 2012 01:02PM) (new)

Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments I was thinking to read it just after to compare what we think.

Hehe i will also read A Princess of Mars but for the first time. Not to see the film afterwards but the film reminded me of SFF shame of not having read JC book yet. Many Howard fans, other fans have recommend the book warmly to me. Other than being the grand daddy of Sword and planet genre.


message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments I first read Princess when I was about 13 and it's one of those books that I can just re-read over and over. I'm still thrilled as I read about John Carter's adventures, and a bit jealous that you get to read him for the first time!


message 6: by Peregrine 12 (last edited Mar 18, 2012 07:21PM) (new)

Peregrine 12 (peregrine12) | 75 comments WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Okay, I read 'Blood of the Gods' this morning. It was my first El Borak story and I thought it was great. It was new to me and, I thought, an exciting tale. Good choice, Michael! (El Borak could be my new favorite REH hero...)

I really liked the detail put into the story. It showed more terrain, more strategy, more culture, than a lot of the Conan stories.

I think El Borak stood for Howard's alter ego, maybe. I keep thinking of the comment someone posted from a Howard letter: Howard wrote that if he had more money he would have traveled the world. I feel fairly confident in saying that Howard would have gone to East himself if he could have. Ridden a camel, learned Arabic, and all that. A regular Indiana Jones 50 years before Indiana Jones. (How cool would that have been?)

The storyline was good: Gordon's going to warn a friend that bandits are coming to get him. Simple, direct; in the way, of course, are about a kabillion Bedouin bad guys with a background of blood feuds with Gordon. He gets through on luck - clever twist, I thought, when he arrives at the caves alone - and then uses strategy to defeat superior numbers.

I particularly liked Gordon's musings late in the story when he reflects that so much of combat is sheer luck, but his number wasn't up yet. Grim. Fatalistic. I was wondering if there is a story in which he does die, because it seemed like foreshadowing. (Don't tell me, please!)

The one thing that I didn't like in this story is that El Borak makes long-range, impossible shots - every time. He wins his hand-to-hand battles completely and decisively - every time. He never slows. He never gets tired. He doesn't need to sleep (at least, not enough to interfere with his physical functioning).

I guess I would've liked it better if success wasn't absolutely guaranteed to Gordon/El Borak, if perhaps he had a chance of slipping up, missing a shot, etc. Would make him seem more human to me, and definitely ratchet up the suspense.

Also: I read and reread the final fight scene with Hawkston. How did Hawkston die? A gout of blood and he died. But after that detailed parley-counterthrust description, I was a little confused when he just went down with no further detail.

Nonetheless, the ending had me in its grip! I thought FOR SURE the jewels were hidden in the old book in the hermit's cave... I felt so clever when I figured that out and I just couldn't wait for the hermit to repay Gordon in rubies. Then I learned that the rubies weren't in the book. Dangit.

I've got the 'El Borak' collection featured at the top of this page and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of them.

End Note: I finished the story, sitting on my back step this morning, and I wondered aloud, "Why, Robert Erwin? Why did you kill yourself? Man, if you had only known..."

The guy was good.

P-12


message 7: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments I haven't read this yet, so only read the very beginning of your review. I will come back to it shortly (I hope) and I'm really glad you enjoyed it so much :-)

I'm well stuck into The Silmarillion, which I need to complete first. A very different book to anything by REH and one I'm enjoying immensely, hence my general silence over here! Normal service will be resumed soon :-D


message 8: by Peregrine 12 (new)

Peregrine 12 (peregrine12) | 75 comments Good to hear from you, Michael. It's been a while.

I wish you luck with the Silmarillion - it's one I just couldn't get through, and I'm a Tolkien fan.

I'll be moving in two weeks (buying my first house) so I may be a little scarce myself in the coming weeks. Will try to keep up as best I can.


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments Well, I've been most remiss with the March 2012 Group Read and am starting it on 01 April! I'll queue up a Conan story for the April read - Default position!

P12: Have you moved yet? If so, I hope it all went smoothly. If not, I hope everything's on target :-D


message 10: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments Finished this at last - another fantastic outing for El Borak!

The story's fairly straight forward, and well-summarised by Peregrine 12, above. I liked the loyalty shown in the story between Salim and Gordon and between Gordon and Al Wazir. Hawkston (a caddish English villain several decades before Hollywood decided we were the safest nation for them to routinely insult) just doesn't understand why Gordon would stay behind to protect Al Wazir in the face of almost certain death.

There's a hint of the supernatural in the Djinn of the Caves, but El Borak's world (at least to this point) is firmly grounded in reality. I thought it was a nice bit of atmosphere, though.

P-12, that fight: (view spoiler) Obviously, this all happened in less time than it takes to tell :-D


message 11: by Peregrine 12 (new)

Peregrine 12 (peregrine12) | 75 comments Hmm... you got all that from the final fight scene? Well, okay.

"a caddish English villain several decades before Hollywood decided we were the safest nation for them to routinely insult" - hmm, that's true. I never noticed that before. Maybe people in the 20's were still bitter about the whole 'world domination' thing.


message 12: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments I don't think REH was stereotyping the English: we were very active in the region at the time and, well, we could be caddish on occasion!

Hollywood, on the other hand, seems to have got stuck on casting the English as the bad guys in the last couple of decades, which I think is likely due to the fact that when offended we are more likely to "tut" and look disapproving rather than blow up a studio.


message 13: by Peregrine 12 (new)

Peregrine 12 (peregrine12) | 75 comments Well, Hollywood does do a lot of things that play on stereotypes - what better way to gain mass appeal? Seen through American eyes, the British can seem very understated. And I suppose the opposite is also true.

One thing that's really impressed me is Howard's way of using his limited resources in rural Texas from a socially conservative time to create these incredible stories of other times and places. Just the right person in the wrong place? (or maybe his lack of resources drove him to greater creativity?)


message 14: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Peregrine 12 wrote: "WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Okay, I read 'Blood of the Gods' this morning. It was my first El Borak story and I thought it was great. It was new to me and, I thought, an exciting tale. Good choice..."


This is a good story but not the most challenging, hardest enemies for Gordon. He struggles more with his fights in other stories.

He is a great warrior but he seldomely lives on impossible shots.

You are right about the detail put in the story, Howard researched his El Borak stories well.

I have read El Borak in that complete Del Rey collection, there are finer stories than this.


message 15: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments I've moved onto The Country of the Knife (gotta get some books, not just stories, under my belt for the REH Challenge!) and it is really good.

I like the atmosphere in Blood of the Gods and how Gordon is pitted against the desert environment as well as his human enemies, but The Country of the Knife is properly a part of the Great Game, and that just raises it up a level or two for me. REH was good when he wrote about intrigue and deception.


message 16: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Michael wrote: "I've moved onto The Country of the Knife (gotta get some books, not just stories, under my belt for the REH Challenge!) and it is really good.

I like the atmosphere in Blood of the Gods and how Go..."


What was that story about again ? Several of the stories has Great Game vibe to it. You have not read every story yet?


message 17: by Michael (new)

Michael | 305 comments No, I've not read them all yet. I've read The Lost Valley Of Iskander and am part way through Son of the White Wolf. Once I've finished that, I've got Three-Bladed Doom to read.

I think those three volumes contain all of Howard's mature El Borak stories, but I'm aware that there's some juvenalia as well.

Re The Country of the Knife, MASSIVE SPOILER (view spoiler) I haven't finished it yet, so don't tell me anything!!


message 18: by Mohammed (last edited Apr 11, 2012 01:21PM) (new)

Mohammed  Burhan Abdi Osman (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Michael wrote: "No, I've not read them all yet. I've read The Lost Valley Of Iskander and am part way through Son of the White Wolf. Once I've finished that, I've got [book:Three-Blad..."

Oh yeah thats one of my fav stories of El Borak. It and Hawk of the Hills are so grim,brutal stories in the dangers Gordon deals. There is the Great Game but when things go wrong!!


back to top