|Solomon Kane character|
|First appearance||"Red Shadows"|
|Created by||Robert E. Howard|
|Portrayed by||James Purefoy|
Solomon Kane is a fictional character created by the pulp-era writer Robert E. Howard. A late 16thâearly 17th century Puritan, Solomon Kane is a somber-looking man who wanders the world with no apparent goal other than to vanquish evil in all its forms. His adventures, published mostly in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, often take him from Europe to the jungles of Africa and back.
Howard described him as a tall, sombre and gloomy man of pale skin, gaunt face and cold eyes, all of it shadowed by a slouch hat. He is dressed entirely in black and his weaponry usually consists of a rapier, a dirk, and a brace of flintlock pistols. During one of his later adventures his friend N'Longa, an African shaman, gave him a juju staff that served as a protection against evil but could easily be wielded as a weapon. It is revealed in another story, "The Footfalls Within", that this is the mythical Staff of Solomon, a talisman older than the Earth and unimaginably powerful, much more so than even N'Longa knew. In the same adventure with N'Longa, Kane is seen using a musket as well.
When Weird Tales published the story "Red Nails", featuring Conan the Barbarian, the editors introduced it as a tale of "a barbarian adventurer named Conan, remarkable for his sheer force of valor and brute strength. Its author, Robert E. Howard, is already a favorite with the readers of this magazine for his stories of Solomon Kane, the dour English Puritan and redresser of wrongs".
Most of the Solomon Kane stories were first published in Weird Tales. The order of publication, however, does not coincide with the order in which the stories were written.
First published in Weird Tales, August 1928, alternatively titled "Solomon Kane". This was the first Solomon Kane story ever published. In France, Kane finds a girl attacked by a gang of brigands led by a villain known as le Loup. As she dies in his arms, Kane determines to avenge her death, and the trail leads from France to Africa, ending with Kane's first meeting with N'Longa.
"Skulls in the Stars"
First published in Weird Tales, January 1929. In England, Kane is on his way to the hamlet of Torkertown, and must choose one of two paths, a route that leads through a moor or one that leads through a swamp. He is warned that the moor route is haunted and all travelers who take that road die, so he decides to investigate.
"Rattle of Bones"
First published in Weird Tales, June 1929. In Germany Kane meets a traveler named Gaston L'Armon, who seems familiar to Kane, and together they take rooms in the Cleft Skull Tavern.
"The Moon of Skulls"
First published in Weird Tales, Part 1, June 1930; Part 2, July 1930. Kane goes to Africa on the trail of an English girl named Marylin Taferal, kidnapped from her home and sold to Barbary pirates by her cousin. When he finds the hidden city of Negari, he encounters Nakari, "the vampire queen of Negari".
"Hills of the Dead"
First published in Weird Tales, August 1930. In Africa again, Kane's old friend N'Longa (the witch doctor from "Red Shadows") gives the Puritan a magic wooden staff, the Staff of Solomon, which will protect him in his travels. Kane enters the jungle and finds a city of vampires.
"The Footfalls Within"
First published in Weird Tales, September 1931. In Africa again, Kane encounters Arab slave traders busily engaged driving slaves to market. He rushes to save a girl whom the slavers are mistreating but is himself overwhelmed and taken prisoner.
"Wings in the Night"
First published in Weird Tales, July 1932. In Africa again, Kane comes across an entire village wiped out, and all of the roofs have been ripped off, as if by something attempting to get inside from above.
"Blades of the Brotherhood"
First published in Red Shadows, Grant, 1968. Also known as "The Blue Flame of Vengeance". On the English coast, Kane battles the Fishhawk and his fellow pirates in a historical action tale with no fantasy elements. Writer John Pocsik was commissioned by Arkham House founder August Derleth to "edit" Howard's prose and to add a weird element for his 1964 anniversary anthology Over the Edge. REH scholar L. Sprague de Camp and author Fritz Leiber are both reported to have thought highly of the "new" version. Pocsik went on to pen several other Kane pastiches, only one of which, "The Fiend Within", saw print in Ariel (with "Solomon Kane" changed to "Jonathan Flint").
"The Right Hand of Doom"
First published in Red Shadows. Kane plays a minimal role in this story. A condemned wizard, Roger Simeon, seeks revenge on John Redly, the man who betrayed him.
Kane arrives in a tavern, where he is greeted by John Redly, whom is bragging about having played a fundamental role in the capture of Roger Simeon, a necromancer that will be executed the following morning. Kane despises him as a traitor, even though his action had allowed the capture of an evil individual. During the night, Kane is awakened by a strange noise that seems to come from outside the room window and, when he watches outside, he can see something entering the room next to his. Kane holds his sword and enters the nearby room, where Redly is asleep. The window is open and a weird thing, similar to a large black spider, is crawling inside. Kane is paralyzed by terror as he watched the thing climb the bed of Redly and, than, drop down to his neck and, an instant later, crack its bones. As John Redly lies dead, Kane is able to peirce the thing with the tip his sword, only to see that it is a human hand, covered with black hair and with a snake-shaped ring on its middle finger.
The following morning, Kane is leaving the town and meets a young boy, whom tells hime that Roger Simeon, the necromancer, has been hanged at dawn and when he died, he had a deep smile on his face. Asked by Kane, the boy also tells him that the wizard went to the gallows pole with one hand only, since, as his last will, the night before, he had asked the prison guards to cut his right hand and cast it outside the prison window. As he was lying in the prison, Simeon, kept on murmuring what seemed directions to an invisible auditor and, at dawn, when he was already hanging from the rope, in a last effort, he seemed to strangulate someone with his handless arm. Having understood what had happened, Kane, finally, asks if Simeon's hand were covered by black hair and had a snake-like ring, and the boy confirms.
"Death's Black Riders"
First published in The Howard Collector #10, Spring 1968. Just a few lines completed. Kane meets a shadowy ghost rider on the road.
"The Castle of the Devil"
First published in Red Shadows, Grant, 1968. In the Black Forest Kane tells John Silent, an English mercenary, that he cut down a boy from the local Baron's gibbet. Both men head to the Baron's castle for a reckoning.
"The Children of Asshur"
First published in Red Shadows. Kane comes across a lost city of Assyrians.
"Hawk of Basti"
First published in Red Shadows. Kane's old acquaintance, Jeremy Hawk, was once the king of an African lost civilization, and wants to resume that role.
- Ramsey Campbell has completed Howard's three sizable fragments, and several compilations contain some of these collaborations. The 1978 and 1979 Bantam editions and 1996 Baen edition (ISBN 0-671-87695-3) in which Campbell's continuation and completion of Howard's fragments are printed do not delineate the exact spot at which the author changes. Comparing these to the 2004 Ballantine edition, The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, gives us that information:
- The Castle of the Devil: The final Howard sentence is the following:
- "Your speech is wild and Godless," said Kane. "But I begin to like you." (page 64 of Bantam edition, Skulls in the Stars)
- Hawk of Basti: The final Howard sentence is the following:
- Then calling to a man who had the appearance of a chief, he ordered him to walk between himself and Kane. (page 33 of Bantam edition, The Hills of the Dead)
- The Children of Asshur: Howard completed parts I through III (Part III ends on page 129 of Bantam edition, The Hills of the Dead)
- Javier Martin Lalanda has completed Howard's fragments in Las Aventuras De Solomon Kane, the complete Spanish edition of the Kane stories.
- Gianluigi Zuddas has completed Howard's fragments in Solomon Kane, Fanucci, Rome, 1979, the complete Italian edition of the Kane stories.
"The One Black Stain"
"The Return of Sir Richard Grenville"
Kane fights side-by-side with the ghost of Sir Richard Grenville, at whose 1591 death Kane had been present.
"Solomon Kane's Homecoming"
After years of wandering, Kane comes back to England "to live forever in my place." Then he hears "the howling of the ocean pack" and leaves again. This work contains a dialog exchange between Kane and a local man: "Where is Bess? Woe that I caused her tears."/"In the quiet churchyard by the sea she has slept these seven years." Most fans of the character have assumed that Bess is Queen Elizabeth I of England and consequently date the incident to 1610 but this is wrong. In the Howard fragment, "Hawk of Basti," Kane says of this monarch, "She herself has lied to and betrayed the folk of my faith...," an historian described Elizabeth as "a huge boulder in the path of Puritanism, unavoidable, insurmountable, immovable," and she is buried in Westminster Abbey which does not fit the description of Bess' burial place.
Some fans consider "Bess" to be the love interest of Solomon Kane. There is no other mention of Bess in the stories, but given the character of Kane, a story has been read between the lines: Bess and Kane have shared a love, but the wayfaring nature of Kane has forced him to pursue his adventures. Perhaps he has planned to come home to start a family with Bess, but upon hearing of her death, breaks all connections to home and leaves again without returning.
The Staff of Solomon
The Staff of Solomon is an ancient staff that N'Longa presented to Kane to aid him in his adventures. It is described as sharp-pointed on one end and with the head of a cat on the other, made of a wood that no longer exists on Earth. The staff is covered with ancient hieroglyphs which, along with the cat's head, were added a very long time after the staff was created. Using the staff Kane can communicate over distances with N'Longa, and it has also been used to slay vampires and evil spirits. Having carried it for an extended period seems to have endowed Kane with the ability to sense the presence of otherworldly beings.
When Kane is taken prisoner by slavers, one of their party, "Yussef the Hadji", recognizes the staff for what it is. He says the staff is older than the world itself and holds mighty magic. The cat-head is a representation of Bast, and the priests of Bast used the staff in ancient Egypt. The feline head which now decorates the staff's top was itself carved out of a pre-existing decoration, though it is now impossible to say what manner of eldritch symbol (or creature) was originally effigiated on it. With the staff Moses (known as Musa in Arabic) did wonders before the Pharaoh and carried it with him when his people fled Egypt. For centuries it was the Scepter of Israel (mentioned in Numbers 24:17), and Solomon used it to combat magicians and capture djinns. The staff may be related to Aaron's rod, Moses' rod or the Rod of Asclepius.
He is an ancient African shaman, who is driven to study magic. He has travelled the world in ancient times as a slave, secretly studying under various sorcerers and holy men of the Middle and Near East. In Judea he acquired the Staff of Solomon, which he later gave to Solomon Kane to aid him in his wanderings. N'Longa's magical powers derive from his ability to send his spirit out of his body. He can take over the bodies of the living and dead through this method, to communicate with Solomon Kane through the Staff of Solomon, and also summons the vultures by sending his spirit to parley with them.
A French criminal mastermind (his name means "the wolf") whom Kane spent several years tracking down to avenge the murder of a dying girl he found, and her whole village. Kane eventually tracks le Loup to Africa, where he first meets N'Longa, and justice is served.
His real name is Jonas Hardraker and he is known on all coasts of the civilized world as a ruthless pirate. He is a tall, rangy, broad-shouldered man, with a lean hawk-like cruel face. Solomon Kane hunted him for two years after Hardraker sank a ship that was carrying the daughter of an old friend of Kane, the old friend having gone mad after hearing of his daughter's death. Kane finally confronted and killed Hardraker in England where Hardraker was smuggling alcohol with Sir George Banway.
There are currently three audio-book recordings of Solomon Kane stories and poems, all currently available for purchase and download through Audible. There is one free audio drama production:
- The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, an unabridged audio-book of the collected Solomon Kane stories released by Tantor Audio and narrated by Paul Boehmer, originally available on CD (ISBN 1400142288).
- A 2019 unabridged recording in French released by Hardigan Audio and read by Nicolas Planchais.
- A 2013 recording of the poem "Solomon Kane's Homecoming", released by Spoken Realms Audio and read by Glenn Hascall.
At the 2006 San Diego Comic Con, it was announced that Solomon Kane, a feature film based upon the eponymous character, was in development at Davis-Films, with Michael J. Bassett writing and directing. The film was produced by Samuel Hadida, Paul Berrow and Kevan Van Thompson. Shooting started in Czech Republic in January 2008, with James Purefoy (Rome's Mark Anthony) as Kane. Max von Sydow plays Kane's father, and Pete Postlethwaite, Alice Krige and Jason Flemyng are among the supporting cast. Patrick Tatopoulos, creature designer for Godzilla, Underworld, Silent Hill, I Am Legend and others, conceptualized the monsters Kane fights in his battles with the forces of evil. The film was released in France on December 23, 2009, in the UK on February 19, 2010 and in the US on September 28th, 2012
- Marvel Comics published several comic books featuring Solomon Kane in the 1970s and 1980s.
- It was announced at the 2006 Comic Con that Paradox Entertainment has completed a publishing deal with Dark Horse Comics for a Solomon Kane comic series, to be written by Scott Allie, drawn by Mario Guevara, and colored by Dave Stewart. As of 2012, three mini-series were published: Solomon Kane, Solomon Kane: Death's Black Riders, and Solomon Kane: Red Shadows.
- Andrew Cain, a fictional 19th century monster hunter in the Italian comic book Zagor was inspired by Kane.
Pinnacle Entertainment Group has published a role-playing game based on the character utilizing the Savage Worlds rules system, titled The Savage World of Solomon Kane. In addition to game rules, the book features a background and summaries of Howard's original stories and an original adventure campaign featuring a group of wanderers following the path of Kane and revisiting places changed by Solomon's actions.
Mythic Games is developing a narrative adventure board game simply titled Solomon Kane based on Robert E. Howard's original stories and characters. The game was funded via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter in July 2018 and has been in development since, with initial release slated for summer 2020.
The game is a co-op style board game where players represent the virtues that drive Solomon Kane forwards in his quest against darkness. Kane's various adventures are told in the game through one or more acts, which break down into smaller chapters of gameplay. These are scenarios with multiple possible outcomes and branching story arcs, where the players also have a chance of diverging from the original stories of Robert E. Howard and instead explore a number of "what if" scenarios written by Mythic Games.
Copyright and trademark
Trademark on the name Solomon Kane and the names of Robert E. Howard's other principal characters are claimed by Paradox Entertainment of Stockholm, Sweden, through its US subsidiary Paradox Entertainment Inc. Paradox also claims copyrights on the stories written by other authors under license from Solomon Kane Inc. Since Robert E. Howard published his Solomon Kane stories at a time when the date of publication was the marker, the owners had to use the copyright symbol, and they had to renew after a certain time to maintain copyright, the exact status of all of Howard's Solomon Kane works are in question.
Project Gutenberg, for example, holds only some of Robert E. Howard's stories (none of which include Solomon Kane) while Project Gutenberg Australia has a more complete selection, implying that the stories are unambiguously free from copyright under Australian law, while the possibility of copyright renewal disbars many from Project Gutenberg's inclusion criteria in the United States.
Subsequent stories written by other authors are subject to the copyright laws of the relevant time.
Tales of the Shadowmen
Tales of the Shadowmen is an anthology series edited by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier, where characters from French adventure literature exist in the same universe. Tales of the Shadowmen, Volume 3: Danse Macabre includes a story entitled "The Heart of the Moon" by Matthew Baugh which features Solomon Kane as one of a group of adventurers visiting FÃ©val's vampire metropolis, Selene. Tales of the Shadowmen, Volume 4: Lords of Terror includes a story entitled "The Anti-Pope of Avignon" by Micah Harris featuring Solomon Kane as the central protagonist supporting the Huguenot cause in Avignon.
The Wold Newton Family
In Philip JosÃ© Farmer's Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, Farmer identifies Solomon Kane as being a direct ancestor of adventurer Doc Savage. This book is part of a larger literary conceit that the (real) meteorite which fell in Wold Newton, Yorkshire, England, on December 13, 1795 was radioactive and caused genetic mutations in the occupants of a passing coach. As luck would have it many of these occupants were also already of heroic stock. See the Savage Family Tree.
Howard's stories, poems, and fragments featuring Solomon Kane have been published several times as a collection in book form. Not every publication has been a complete collection.
- Red Shadows, Donald M. Grant, 1968 (all but Death's Black Riders, assembled by the Howard estate's literary agent, Glenn Lord, in what he considered internal chronological order.
- Three-volume set, all but Death's Black Riders:
- The Moon of Skulls, Centaur Press, November 1969.
- The Hand of Kane, Centaur Press, October 1970.
- Solomon Kane, Centaur Press, February 1971.
- Two-volume set, all but Death's Black Riders, with introductory essays by Ramsey Campbell, who also completed the three sizable fragments for this collection:
- Solomon Kane: Skulls in the Stars, Bantam Books, December 1978.
- Solomon Kane: The Hills of the Dead, Bantam Books, March 1979.
- Solomon Kane, Baen Books, November 1995. (ISBN 0-671-87695-3) (This edition contains the same texts & Ramsey Campbell material as the Bantam set.)
- The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, Wandering Star, November 1998. (British edition)
- The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane (2004) Howard, Robert E.; Illus. Gianni, Gary. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-46150-9. (North American edition)
- The Right Hand of Doom & Other Tales of Solomon Kane, Wordsworth Editions, 2007. (ISBN 978-1-84022-611-9)
- Las Aventuras de SolomÃ³n Kane, Ultima Thule, Ed. Anaya, Spain, November 1994. (A complete collection of stories, poems, and fragments featuring Solomon Kane, in Spanish translation.)
- Ten (?) volume set from Wildside Press, the publisher of Weird Tales, as a complete collection of Howard's entire Weird Tales catalog.
- Shadow Kingdoms: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume One, Wildside Press, 2004. (ISBN 0-8095-6236-7)
- Moon of Skulls: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Two, Wildside Press, 2006. (ISBN 0-8095-6236-7)
- People of the Dark: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Three, 2006.
- Wings in the Night: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Four, 2007.
- Valley of the Worm: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Five
- The Garden of Fear: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Six
- Beyond the Black River: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Seven
- Hours of the Dragon: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Eight
- Volumes 9 and 10 are awaiting publication.
- Campbell, J. Ramsey, "The Mystery of Solomon Kane," Solomon Kane: The Hills of the Dead, Bantam Books, March 1979, pp. ix-xii.
- The REH Forum Archived 2009-01-05 at the Wayback Machine.
- The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane.
- Solomon Kane.
- Solomon Kane's Homecoming.
- IMDB description page
- Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane Returns at Dark Horse, August 18, 2007, Comic Book Resources
- Zagor - Il terrore dal mare/The sea terror "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2010-09-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Solomon Kane, Mythic Games
- Solomon Kane by Mythic Games, Inc, Kickstarter
- Mythic Games 2020 update, January 10, 2020, Facebook
- Solomon Kane, BoardGameGeek
- Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States at Cornell University
- Paul Herman's research on the copyright status of Robert Howard's works
- Howard, Robert E. (Robert Ervin), 1906-1936 at Project Gutenberg
- Robert E HOWARD (1906-1936) at Project Gutenberg Australia
- Sargent, Pamela, ed. (c. 2004). Conqueror Fantastic. New York: DAW Books.
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