Robert E. Howard
Beyond the Borders (C) (1996)
The Robert E. Howard Library Vol. VII
Reviewed: 2000-09-17

This seventh and final volume of Baen's Robert E. Howard library takes us beyond the borders of the known world. From dark Africa or inner Mongolia to mysterious Ireland, there are lost cities, ghosts and demons, a mad scientist and a shapeshifter, a deal with the devil, deadly curses and horrors of the mind, strange lands inhabited by inhuman creatures, and sometimes it is man himself who turns into a wild beast. It is a world where magic and ancient evil lurk in dark corners, and science and civilization are only mentioned to stress their absence.

Howard's stories are centered around violence, and his emphasis of racial characteristics is somewhat embarrassing by today's standards. His medium is the short story, so there is little room to expound anything. The characters are simplistic and don't see any development. The plots are straightforward, the action is furious. It is trivial to point to flaws in Howard's work, but much harder to explain his qualities as a storyteller that continue to hold much fascination: His ability to express sheer ferocity and liveliness simply is second to none.

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