12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Easy to read, highly flavourful and ultimately light of heart, 24 July 2010
This volume contains all of the Solomon Kane stories Howard finished in his lifetime. Although there are longer volumes that include fragments, or other authors' versions of Howard's unfinished works, this book is a "Complete Solomon Kane". The stories combine elements of horror and suspense with a slightly detached, amused tone to very pleasing effect. The stories are thrilling without being at all disturbing, and despite their often gruesome subject matter, offer much more in the way of speculative wonder than speculative dread. In many ways they are an optimistic and humanistic counterpart to Lovecraft's cosmic horrors. Kane might live in a world of ancient mystery and supernatural evil, but his will and cunning always allow him to triumph over his foes.
Howard's prose will not be for everyone. It is usually functional rather than beautiful, and sometimes even breaks down into clumsiness. Like Lovecraft, Howard has a tendency to over-rely on certain archaic or unusual words when creating atmosphere. However, these disturbances are invariably minor, and have little or no effect on enjoyment. Being reminded of the story-teller in this way is not really a problem in this type of writing. Overpoweringly, Howard's prose imbues his stories with a particular flavour which lingers on in much fantasy writing to this day. Although hard to label, it is that quality which allows us to use this kind of story as a springboard for our own imaginations. Because of this quality, I find the Solomon Kane stories excellent bedtime reading, a sort of appetiser for exciting and pleasant dreams ahead.