Most of the tales in this volume are in 1st-person; however, the reader would do well to remember that sometimes stories may chronicle a *deceased* narrator. For one thing, the style I refer to as "flashback/present" involves a present-day narrator who, in the midst of the present-day story, recalls a dramatic story of a past life, which (while complete in itself, as a story) fills in background for the present story. Some stories end in tragedy, some in triumph - and others in both.
"The House of Arabu" (a.k.a. "The Witch from Hell's Kitchen") - As in many Howard stories, the protagonist is a northern warrior far from his birthplace: Pyrrhas, an Argive warrior serving as general of mercenaries in Nippur. Since he burned Anu's temple, no priest will help when the night spirit Lilitu marks him for prey. Pyrrhas extracts a name from his mistress, Amytis, of one who might help: Gimil-isbi, an apostate priest turned diabolist. But did pain bring the truth out of Amytis, or did she lay a trap for hate of Pyrrhas?
"The Garden of Fear" - Flashback/present, courtesy of James Allison's remembrance of a past life. (In this life, a riding accident left him with the need to live in the past.) As Hunwulf, the narrator once fell in love with Gudrun, and the pair fled from the vengeance of the Aesir tribe after Hunwulf slew Gudrun's promised mate for her sake. Having fled across terrain that no one less desperate would attempt, they fancied themselves safe when they reached a peaceful little village on the far side of the mountains. They didn't understand the villagers' signs of distress at their intention of travelling further south, not sharing a common language - until the assault of a winged fiend, and its kidnapping of Gudrun, made their fears all too plain...
If this one appeals to you, see also Howard's "Wings in the Night" in _Solomon Kane_, and Marion Zimmer Bradley's _Falcons of Narabedla_.
"The Twilight of the Grey Gods" (a.k.a. "The Grey God Passes") - One of Howard's depictions of the battle of Clontarf, beginning well before the battle. See also "The Cairn on the Headland" in _Beyond the Borders_, in which the aftermath of the battle is remembered (somewhat differently) in a flashback.
"Spear and Fang" - Often Howard depicts humanity as under siege from other species who once owned the Earth - the snake-people fought by Kull, for example. His treatment of this theme is much less supernatural than that of his friend Lovecraft, but if you like one, try the other as well. In this tale, a Cro-Magnon tribe lives in a forest haunted by monstrous Neanderthals, although neither tribe, of course, uses those terms. The maiden A-ea fears far more than rape when she's captured and borne away through the forest.
"Delenda Est" - The Vandal conqueror Ginseric and his people are faced with the same problems the Romans had when they conquer Carthage: a small knot of aliens ruling a huge area, too small a group to really change the fundamental character of the place. When a mysterious Carthaginian stranger comes aboard, though, he seems more concerned with Ginseric's dealings with Rome than the taking of his native city.
"Marchers of Valhalla" - Really cool flashback/present, courtesy of James Allison - another tale of one of the migrating tribes of Aesir, this one (an all-male warband) having crossed the ancient land bridge across the Bering Strait to finally reach an area that would later lie near (possibly under) the Gulf of Mexico. When they reach the city of Khemu, the younger men are happy enough to spare it in exchange for food and women. But are the people of Khemu really as accomodating as they seem?
"Sea Curse" - When John Kulrek raped Moll Farrell's young niece, he and his crony Lie-Lip Canool feared no retribution - as the roughest sailing men in Faring Town, they knew no man dared bring them to account, even when the girl's drowned body came ashore, a suicide. Even when Moll, as the local witch, cursed them to their faces, that each would be the other's death, and that the sea that took her girl would not have them, they only laughed and boarded ship for a long voyage. How can she bring the curse home to them, now that Lie-Lip has returned alone and Kulrek jumped ship at Sumatra, a world away?
"Out of the Deep" - Another Faring Town story. Adam Falcon sailed at dawn, only to be washed ashore at dusk, drowned. But rather than kiss him one last time in farewell, his promised bride Margaret shrieks that this is not Adam. Is this merely the horror of a woman at her lover's death, or has she seen what others have not?
"In the Forest of Villefere" - The swordsman de Montour, bearing news of a treaty to the duke of Burgundy, travels both by day and night, even through the forest, despite villagers' tales of bandits - and worse. Meeting a masked stranger, Charles le Loup, after taking a wrong turn, de Montour learns not only the track to Villefere, but something that will change his life forever after.
"Wolfshead" - Dom Vincente da Lusto was an unusual man, who founded his trading empire not in his native Portugal, but on an estate (complete with castle and warehouses) hacked out of the African coast. Once a year, he invited companions from Europe to make merry, once including the narrator as well as his own mink-faced cousin Carlos, and a swordsman of Normandy, de Montour. Something strange was in the air: de Montour, one of the few guests to remain sober, asked certain revellers to bar and bolt their doors in the night. What would attempt to force not only the doors of young women but tough swordsmen?