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|Solomon Kane character|
|First appearance||"Red Shadows"|
|Created by||Robert E. Howard|
|Solomon Kane character|
|First appearance||"Red Shadows"|
|Created by||Robert E. Howard|
Solomon Kane is a fictional character created by the pulp-era writer Robert E. Howard. A late 16th–early 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 sombre and gloomy man of pale 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 latter 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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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").
First published in Red Shadows. Kane plays a minimal role in this story. A condemned wizard seeks revenge on the man who betrayed him.
First published in The Howard Collector #10, Spring 1968. Just a few lines completed. Kane meets a shadowy ghost rider on the road.
First published in Red Shadows, Grant, 1967. 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.
First published in Red Shadows. Kane comes across a lost city of Assyrians.
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.
Wherein Solomon Kane speaks out to Sir Francis Drake, objecting to his execution of Sir Thomas Doughty in 1578 Patagonia, South America (actual historical people and events)
Kane fights side-by-side with the ghost of Sir Richard Grenville, at whose 1591 death Kane had been present.
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 way-faring 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 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 hieroglyphics 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 recognize 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's 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.
Before this, when the world was young, Atlantean, pre-Adamite, priests in silent cities beneath the seas used the staff to fight evil, millions of years before mankind was born.
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.
At the 2006 San Diego Comic Con, it was announced that a feature film based upon the character of Solomon Kane 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.
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.
Trademark on 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 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 Féval'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.
In Philip José 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.
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