Saturday, May 8, 2010

Master of Adventure

One of Robert E. Howard's favorite authors was noted adventure writer, historian, and biographer Harold Lamb. Lamb basically got his start writing historical adventure stories in the aptly named Adventure Magazine which is where REH first read Lamb's stories and wandering Cossacks and adventurers. Later on Lamb would go on to write screen plays for Cecil B. DeMille and best selling biographies and histories set for the most part in Asia. As a kid I remember reading his World Landmark series book on Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan and the Mongol Horde (Landmark#W-12)

Recently University of Nebraska's Bison Press has been re-publishing many of Lamb's stories from the period of his pulp writing days, roughly just before and during the "Roaring Twenties". I'm currently reading Riders of the Steppes: The Complete Cossack Adventures, Volume Three and the stories contained therein are excellent. Supposedly some of the stories in this volume were those read by noted Howard in the early twenties before he began writing professionally himself, going on to create noted fantasy characters such as Conan and Solomon Kane. I can see how Lamb's well written action scenes and vividly realized three dimensional individual heroes were an influence on Howard later on. I've become a major fan of these stories and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in good adventure fiction in a realistic historical setting.

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