Tag Archives: sword and sorcery

THE JAMES ALLISON TRILOGY: ROBERT E HOWARD’S NEGLECTED CHARACTER

base x betterJAMES ALLISON – American author Robert E. Howard is, of course, best known for his Big Three pulp heroes – Conan (debut year 1930), Kull (debut year 1929) and Solomon Kane (debut year 1928). Among his many overlooked creations was James Allison, whose trio of short stories serve as a perfect analogy for readers who long for adventures that the modern world denies them.

marchers 2MARCHERS OF VALHALLA – Ironically, this tale which introduces James Allison was never published during Robert E. Howard’s lifetime, even though the two follow-up stories were. We meet James Allison, a man living in early 1930s Texas.

James feels profound disappointment over his mundane existence and the era in which he lives. Most of all, he feels inferior to his brothers, who were slain in the World War, and his father, who was wounded while charging up San Juan Hill with Theodore Roosevelt.

Even if the drab, stifling modern era DID serve up an adventure, Allison feels he is in no condition to pursue it because he has lost one of his legs in a riding accident. One day James limps his way up a hill to take in the scenery when a beautiful (of course) woman approaches him. Continue reading

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JIREL OF JOIRY: NEGLECTED PULP HEROINE

Jirel of JoiryJIREL OF JOIRY – From 1934 to 1939, the female author C.L. Moore wrote six stories featuring Jirel of Joiry, a sword-wielding woman warrior from late Medieval France. Moore’s thirteen tales of Northwest Smith, the 1930s version of Han Solo, were reviewed in 2014 here at Balladeer’s Blog, including the 1937 crossover story with Jirel in which they faced a time-traveling sorceror from her era.

With this blog post I’m at last beginning my promised examination of the Jirel of Joiry pulp stories from the iconic publication Weird Tales. She was the forerunner of so many recent heroines from Xena to Cara Dune. 

black god's kissBLACK GOD’S KISS (1934) – This debut story opens with Castle Joiry having for once suffered the fate that Jirel had forced upon so many other strongholds: its armies defeated and their commander, Jirel herself, taken prisoner.

Still fully armored, she has been brought before Guillaume the Conqueror, the first man to have ever beaten Jirel militarily. The cocky Guillaume, having taken the castle, is seated upon Jirel’s throne as he inspects the freshly seized enemy commander being held by two of his men who can scarcely keep the warrior restrained.

Soon he has another of his soldiers remove the helmet from the commander and is shocked to see that inside the armor it is a beautiful woman who nearly defeated him that day.

jirel coverNOTE: Since so many people are still so into the Game of Thrones universe picture a fully armored Jason Momoa as Guillaume and for Jirel picture a fiery combination of Arya, Daenerys and Brienne with Sansa’s long red hair.

Back to the story, Guillaume infuriates Jirel by talking to her as the prisoner she is and she breaks free of the two men holding her and nearly escapes before Guillaume himself catches up with her and recaptures her. He forces a kiss upon Jirel, who, the minute their mouths are disengaged, bites into his exposed neck, just missing his jugular vein.

Things escalate and Guillaume smacks our heroine unconscious. She awakens that night in the dungeons far below Castle Joiry. She easily escapes from her cell and overcomes the guard Guillaume assigned to keep watch over her. Continue reading

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