Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Fire of Asshurbanipal - Robert E. Howard

It's traditional for fans of Robert E. Howard's work to read something by him on his birthday. This year I picked one of his stories that I hadn't read in a good number of years, "The Fire of Asshurbanipal". What a wonderful yarn it is, too. You've got a lost city in the desert, ancient and abandoned and sinister. You've got a skeleton sitting on a throne clutching an enormous red gem supposedly forged from the fires of Hell itself. You've got two brave adventurers, American Steve Clarney (I'll bet he's a Texan, although the story doesn't say so) and his Afghan sidekick Yar Ali, who are after the gem and pursued by a gang of Bedouin outlaws who want revenge. Oh, and did I mention that the gem is supposed to be cursed? And that this story is connected to the infamous Cthulu Mythos? Throw in one of my all-time favorite pulp covers, the work of J. Allen St. John, and you've got an excellent way to spend the evening and pay tribute to the great Robert E. Howard.


Chap O'Keefe said...

I think I have this one in the Skull Face omnibus ... can't remember any of the details of the story, but your notes whet my appetite! I'll hunt through my boxes right away.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great story selection!

Scott D. Parker said...

This story seems to have everything I love.

Desert setting: check
Hidden cities: check
Supernatural aspects: check
Redoubtable adventurers: check

I just put El Borak and Other Desert Adventures on hold at the library.


Kurt said...

This sounds terrific! I know this story is in his Cthulhu Mythos collection Nameless Cults, edited by Robert M. Price. I have to look for more of his Adventure yarns.

Adventuresfantastic said...

It's been years since I read it. And I don't think I've ever seen that cover. I thought I'd seen all the Weird Tales covers from that period, but either I missed one or it faded into the mists of memory.

Magister said...

Please remember that there are two different versions of this story, one of which is overtly supernatural while the other one is a little bit more open to interpretation. Both versions are excellent.
The version in El Borak and Other Desert Adventures is the (possibly) non-supernatural one, while the one in Nameless Cults is the openly Cthulhuvian one.