THE CONQUERING SWORD OF CONAN BY ROBERT E. HOWARD

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Copyright 2005 storied written between 1935-36.

THE SERVANTS OF BIT-YAKIN

Conan is in the kingdom of Keshia and plots to steal the Jewels of Ghwahlar from the ancient palace at Alkmeenon. An abandoned palace set in the crater of a mountain. He finds that another rogue, a Stygian named Thutmekri is also trying to scam the king out of the jewels. Thutmekri plans to use a Corinthian slave girl to impersonate a goddess as the king visits the palace. Conan manages to get to her first and use her to tell the king to give Conan the jewels. Meanwhile some of the cannibalistic servants of Bit-Yakin are still inhabiting the palace.

BEYOND THE BLACK RIVER

Conan is a scout for the Aquilonians in the province of Conajohara a recently settled province in the Pict Wilderness. Zogar Sag a witch doctor has united the various Pict clans to retake the province. With a young ranger named Balthus, Conan attempts to assassinate the wizard. The endeavor ends in failure and now Conan and Balthus must alert the settlers to evacuate the province. Conan also has to fight the beasts of Jhebbal Sag and a demon.

THE BLACK STRANGER

Conan was captured by the Picts and escapes. He goes west to the coast and finds an abandoned cave. The cave contains the treasure of Tranicos and a demon. Farther on the coast a Zingaran Valenso has built a fortress. He is in mortal terror of a Black Stranger that is a wizard he betrayed. One day a Barachan pirate comes and demands a treasure. He attacks the fort but has to flee with the arrival of Black Zarono a Zingaran privateer. Eventually the three band together and Conan enters the mix with knowledge of the treasure’s location. Only now they have to battle the Picts, the mysterious Black Stranger and each other.

THE MAN-EATERS OF ZAMBOULA

In the desert city of Zamboula Conan stays the night at an inn. This innkeeper has a deal with the local cannibal slaves to sell travelers for their feast. Only Conan kills the cannibal and wanders around the streets at night. He rescues a girl from them. The girl named Zabibi tells a story of how the priest of Hanuman drove her lover mad and she needs a potion to restore him. Conan helps her by battling the strangler Baal-Pteor. At the end he finds out the girl was the mistress of the satrap but Conan already knew that and managed to steal the Star of Khorala. He also gets revenge on the innkeeper.

RED NAILS

Valeria a pirate in the Red Brotherhood is forced to flee mercenary service in Stygia. She comes to an abandoned city in the middle of the plains. Conan has followed her and together they have to fight a dragon. After killing it they explore the city and find two factions in a blood feud. They join one side that puts a red nail into a post for every rival they slay.

WOLVES BEYOND THE BORDER DRAFT A & B

Civil war is being fought in Aquilonia. Gault Hagar is a ranger along the border with the Picts. He finds a plot by a renegade Aquilonian to join forces with the Picts to attack loyalists to Conan.

LETTER TO P. SCHULYER MILLER

A letter to some men from Howard in response to their probably outline of Conan’s career. He elaborates on what is right and fills in the blanks.

HYBORIAN GENESIS PART III by Patrice Louinet

An essay on the origins of Howard’s stories in this volume and background of Howard’s life.

The final volume of the collected works of Conan by Howard. This has his latter stories and they are probably the best. You can see Howard as he experiments with new ideas. My personal favorite is Beyond the Black River. This is the first I was exposed to in the comics. Red Nails is considered is finest. These collections from Ballantine are probably the finest to get the unedited Conan that Howard envisioned.

THE BLOODY CROWN OF CONAN BY ROBERT E. HOWARD

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Copyright 2003. Stories written between 1934-1936.

THE PEOPLE OF THE BLACK CIRCLE

The king of Vendya is dying from magic. The Black Seers of Mount Yimsha are responsible and his sister Yasmina must kill him to save his soul. She seeks revenge and goes to the border province where seven Afghuli headmen are held captive. She wants to negotiate with their chieftain Conan for their release. In exchange for the headmen he must kill the Black Seers. Only Conan has come to the border town and seized the opportunity to kidnap Yasmina. At this time a servant of the Seers is convinced by Yasmina’s handmaiden to rebel and uses his powers to form his own empire. So the first thing he does is kill the seven headman so they can’t be used to ransom Yasmina. Then he kills the chief of a tribe who is a friend of Conan and giving him shelter. His plan is to use Yasmina for his own purposes.

Unfortunately for this ambitious servant the Black Seers kill him and his lover. They take Yasmina and Conan must join forces with Kerim Shah a spy for the Turanians. With his forces they assault Mount Yimsha and destroy the Black Seers. At the end Conan wants to run away with Yasmina but comes on his Afghuli hillmen being destroyed by an invading army of Turanians. At this time forces loyal to Yasmina are arriving and she directs them to help the hillmen. The Afghulis are saved and the two lovers must part ways because of their respective duties to their people.

THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON

Four conspirators use dark sorcery to revive the ancient Acheron wizard Xaltotun. They use him to first install one of their number on the throne of Nemedia. A plague kills the king and his heirs. Then using magic Xaltotun paralysis King Conan before a battle and a magical induced rockslide shatters this army. With his people leaderless another conspirator is placed on the throne of Aquilonia. Conan did not die and is taken prisoner by Xaltotun for possible use by him. Zenobia a harem girl of the king of Nemedia has fallen in love with Conan and helps him escape. Conan arrives back in Aquilonia and finds his country now firmly under the control of the conspiracy. A witch woman tells him the only way to regain his country is find the Heart of Ahriman. A power gem that once defeated Xaltotun. Only the king of Nemedia had it stolen and sent someone to toss it into the ocean.

Conan thus starts a journey to Argos. He gets captured and sold as a galley slave. His fellow slaves are old Black Corsairs from his pirate days. He leads a revolt and continues on to Khemi in Stygia. A wizard there now has the gem. He sneaks into the temple and fights an ancient vampire. Also mysterious wizards serving the Aquilonian pretender king have tracked him there. A three way fight between the Stygian, the wizards and Conan results in Conan getting the Heart of Ahriman. He manages to raise an army of rebellion and with the Heart defeats Xaltotun and his confederates. At the end he promises to go get the harem girl Zenobia and make her his queen.

A WITCH SHALL BE BORN

Queen Taramis of the small state of Khauran is confronted in the night by a woman that looks just like her. It is her twin which was though dead. Born with the mark of the witch the young baby was left in the desert to die. She was found by a traveling Khitain magician and trained in the black arts. When the magician decided the young girl named Salome was nothing special he cast her out. Now Salome has decided to take over Khauran. With a mercenary named Constantius they put Taramis in the dungeon and Salome takes her place.

Next day she assembles the army and disbands it for her new husband Constantius and his mercenaries will now protect Khauran. Conan who is captain of the guard can see that this is not the real queen. He rebels but most of the Khaurani soldiers have been disarmed and it is a slaughter. Conan is taken outside to the desert and nailed to a cross. Olgerd Vladislov the chief of the desert bandits known as Zuagir frees him. The Kharani are soon living under the tyrannical rule of Salome who introduces the worship of a dark god. Conan manages to gain control of the Zuagirs and use them to defeat Constantius’s mercenaries. The true queen is rescued and dies along with a giant frog like creature named Thaug. Conan gets his revenge by nailing Constantius on the same cross.

UNTITLED DRAFT AND SYNOPSIS

Amalric a survivor of a mercenary army destroyed in Stygia is now in the desert with some shady brigands. One day they bring back a beautiful girl named Lissa and Amalric has to kill his companions to save he. She tells of coming from a city not far away. A place called Gazal was founded by Hyborians but now has become decadent and fallen into disrepair. Also the city is haunted by a demon from a red tower. The two go there and Amalric has to kill the demon using a spell he learned from a shaman. Almaric and Lissa are chased by seven demon horsemen but are rescued by Conan another survivor of the mercenary army. Conan tells how he was captured by Tombalku a with with two kings. One that represents the Stygian people and another the black people. The black king is an old comrade of Conan and makes him a general in the army. Eventually fighting breaks out between the two factions and Conan, Almaric and Lissa must flee.

HYBORIAN GENESIS PART II by Patrice Louinet

An article on the origins of these story and possible influences.

The second in the series has three stories and one fragment. The first was a novella and dealt with the Indian part of the Hyborian world known as Vendya. It has a lot of mysticism and hypnosis. Interesting Howard was probably influenced by his doctor father who was known to use hypnotism. A notable part of this story was the introduction of a strong female character. Not the helpless clingy ones that usually populate his stories. In fact this is Conan’s second true love. He really wanted to run off with Yasmina and was going to. But the pull of duty for both to their respective people drives them apart. An enjoyable story.

The next one is his only actual novel. Howard was trying to sell a collection of his stories to an English agent. They were rejected but the agent showed interest in a novel along the line of his stories. Eventually he wrote The Hour of the Dragon. It cannibalized elements from his other stories. I can see elements from The Phoenix on the Sword, Black Colossus, and the Scarlet Citadel. It does make it any less enjoyable as this is very exciting story. It highlights most of this fictional world Howard created. It has wizards and demons. Great epic battles and high sea adventure. It showed he could write a full novel and sadly one wonders if he lived longer if he could have wrote many more.

The third is a fairly average story. In fact Conan isn’t even in half of it. It is famous though for the crucifixion scene. Where he actually kills a vulture with his teeth. This is truly a badass scene. One that Milius decided to use in his movie.

Finally we get one of his first attempts at writing a novel. Reading it you can see why he abandoned it as being unworkable. Roy Thomas did actually adopt it to the comic magazine Savage Sword of Conan. I have to say he did a really good job.

THE COMING OF CONAN THE CIMMERIAN BY ROBERT E. HOWARD

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Copyright 2003. Individual stories written 1932-34.

CIMMERIA

A poem written in Mission, TX suggesting the memory of the hill country in Fredricksburg seen in the mist of a winter rain.

THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD

Four conspirators in Aquilonia are conspiring to overthrow King Conan. The leader a former lord now bandit named Ascalante is the leader and has arranged for the guard at the palace to be absent. Then three of the conspirators and nineteen men will sneak in and kill Conan. Ascalante’s slave is sent to watch over the cowardly Dion so he doesn’t panic. At the baron’s palace the slave Thoth-Amon finds that the baron has his serpent ring. He kills the baron and with the ring summons a demon to kill his former master and anyone with him. The conspirators enter Conan’s bedchamber and find him waiting and ready. Conan was contacted by the spirit of a dead priest and given a Phoenix symbol on his sword. A fight ensues where Conan is about to be overwhelmed but the demon shows up. After killing Ascalante, Conan uses his shattered Phoenix sword to destroy the demon.

THE FROST GIANT’S DAUGHTER

Conan a young warrior is fighting the Vanir with the Aesir. He is the sole survivor and in his wounded state approached by a naked woman. She is beautiful and white of skin. She entices Conan who chases her and is ambushed by her frost-giant brothers. Conan manages to kill them and the girl calls on her father Ymir who takes her away. Later his comrades find him and don’t believe the story until the find the gossamer garment clutched in his hand.

THE GOD IN THE BOWL

Conan is stealing from a rich noble’s museum when he comes the dead body of the noble. A guard finds him and summons the watch. They think he killed the noble but the captain makes a full investigation. It is found out a mysterious gift for a priest of Iblis was being stored in the museum. Inside is a giant snake with a head of a man. The snakes kills or scares off everyone except Conan who kills it.

THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT

Conan a thief in Zamora gets into an argument with another about the Tower of the Elephant. He kills this man and later decides to steal from the tower. There he meets up with another thief who has planned the theft. He has lotus that kills the lions that guard the yard. They climb the tower and the thief is killed by a giant spider which Conan kills. Inside he finds Yag-Kosha an alien with body of a human and head of an elephant. He is an ancient race that came to Earth and was enslaved by the evil sorcerer Yara. He begs Conan to kill him, cut his heart out and squeeze the blood on a gem. Then take it to Yara. Conan does this and the gem sucks up Yara. Conan escapes the tower before it collapses.

THE SCARLET CITADEL

King Conan comes to the aid of his ally Ophir. Only he is betrayed and a combined army of Ophir and Koth defeat him. The wizard Tsotha-Lanti locks him in his tower as the armies go to conquer his leaderless country. Conan manages to escape after an enemy from his corsair days tries to get revenge. Conan finds a rival wizard captive and frees him. The wizard conjures a giant pterodactyl to fly him to his capital. He rallies his people and defeats the invading army. Tsotha-Lanti has his head taken by a giant eagle and the headless body chases after it.

QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST

In Messantia Conan is escaping from court. He decided to chop off the judge’s head and jumps on a departing merchantman bound for the Black Coast. While traveling they are attacked by Belit and her Black Corsairs. The ship is captured but Conan is spared because Belit decides to take him as her mate. Conan joins the crew and raids for some years. Eventually their travels take them to a ruined city and they find treasure. Only it is guarded by a flying ape and his jackels. They kill Belit and the crew. Conan waits at night and fights them. Belit comes back from the dead to save him and Conan kills the flying ape. He sets the pirate ship on fire as a pyre for Belit.

BLACK COLLOSSUS

A thief breaks into the tomb of the evil sorcerer Natohk and resurrects him. Natohk conquest some desert tribes and cities. His next conquest is the small state of Khoraja. It’s ruler the princess Yasmela consults the god Mitra who instructs her to give command of her army to the first person she meets on the street. That happens to be Conan. He is made commander and successfully defeats Natohk’s army.

IRON SHADOWS IN THE MOON

Shah Amurath is chasing his escaped slave girl Olivia into the reeds along the Vilayet sea. He catches her but also comes face to face with Conan. Conan was chief of the Kozaks who were massacred by Amurath’s forces. Conan takes his revenge and with Olivia the two set out on the sea in a small boat. They come to a mysterious island with a huge temple filled with iron statues. Oliva has a dream that they come alive and runs out at night with Conan following. They then fight a giant man-ape. Pirates come to the island and Conan kills their captain but is treacherously knocked on the head. Later at night Olivia manages to sneak in when the pirates are drunk and free Conan. The iron statues come alive and kill many of the pirates. Conan takes their ship and won’t let them on until they acknowledge him the captain which they gladly do.

XUTHAL OF THE DUSK

Conan and a freed slave girl Natala are the only survivors of a mercenary army destroyed in Stygia. They have escaped into the desert and come on a strange city. It appears deserted but is filled with a strange yellow race that seem to be in a drugged state. From a girl Thalis they find that the race is advanced but now spends their time in a drugged state. Also a creature named Thog goes around eating people. Thalis wants Conan and manages to kidnap Natalia. While whipping her Thog comes and eats her. Conan runs into the inhabitants and in a fight falls through a trap door. He has to fight Thog and after finding a miracle elixir that heals him the two leave Xuthal.

THE POOL OF THE BLACK ONES

Conan who was on a leaking rowboat in the Western ocean manages to make it on a Zingaran privateer. The captain Zaporavo lets Conan join the crew. Later they land on an island that has treasure. Conan follows the captain when he goes off alone and kills him. Later he finds the crew captured after being knocked out by eating the island’s fruit. Giant black creatures take the crew to a green pool that shrinks them to a small size. Conan with the help of captain’s girl Sancha manage to rouse the crew and defeat the black giants. Then they escape the island as the green pool erupts and floods the island.

ROGUES IN THE HOUSE

Murilo a noble has been found out to be selling secrets to a hostile nation. The Red Priest Nabonidus is going to expose him. So Murilo makes a deal with Conan who is in jail about to be executed. Conan agrees to kill Nabonidus. Only the jailer that was to help him escape is arrested. Conan manages to free himself eventually and takes revenge on the man and woman who betrayed him. Conan sneaks into Nabonidus’s house and finds Murilo who went in to kill him. They find Nabonidus who is also in danger. His man-ape Thak has escaped and taken over the place. They work together to defeat Thak. Nabonidus then turns on Murilo and Conan but Conan is too quick and brains him with a thrown chair.

THE VALE OF LOST WOMEN

Livia is a Nemedian captured and sold into slavery to the chief of the Bajujh. One day the Bamulas come lead by a white chief. Conan is now chief of the Bamulas and is there to form an alliance with the Bajujh. Livia manages to sneak out and Conan agrees to help free her. He later attacks the Bajujh and during this Livia fears for her safety and manages to grab a horse and flee. She comes to a valley with strange women who tie her to an alter. A bat creature comes to take her but Conan arrives and slays it. He promises to see Livia safely back to civilization.

THE DEVIL IN IRON

A fisherman on the Vilayet comes to an island with ruins. A storm has opened an old tomb and he reawakens the inhabitant. Meanwhile Jehungir Agha the lord of Khwarizm comes up with a plan to get rid of the Kozak leader Conan. He uses a slave girl Octavia to entice him. Then plant a story she escaped to the island of Xapur. Only Octavia does escape to the island. She and Conan find that the ruins have been miraculously restored. The inhabitants are also resurrected but seem in a sleepy state. The one responsible is the god who first founded the city. After being resurrected Khosatral Khel used his magic to recreate the city. Conan has to fight a giant snake, Jehungir and his men to get a magical knife. This knife is the only thing that will penetrate the iron skin of Khosatral Khel.

THE PHOENIX ON THE SWORD FIRST DRAFT

The first draft of the story that was rejected.

THE HYBORIAN AGE

A detailed history of the Hyborian age from it’s beginning to it’s end. Shows how the various fiction people became the modern peoples of today.

UNTITLED SYNOPSIS

Nestor a Gunderman leads a squad of Zamorians after the thief Conan. Conan manages to trigger an avalanche that kills the squad except Nestor. The two eventually join to fight a giant monster in a ruined city. At the end Conan takes a gold serpent statue with gem eyes. It turns into a real serpent and bites a magistrate that tries to arrest Conan.

UNTITLED FRAGMENT

After a battle Conan finds a wounded woman and takes her to the city of Yarlet. Atalis and Prince Than are conspiring about something.

UNTITLED SYNOPSIS AND DRAFT

Conan visits the Black Kingdom of Cush ruled by a degenerate king and his sister Thanada. A pig like beast has killed a popular officer and Tuthmes a noble is in control of the creature. He frames Thanada to use in his scheme to take the throne. Thanada is saved by Conan from an attacking mob and made her captain of the guard. Tuthmes uses a white slave girl Diana in his scheme.

HYBOREAN GENESIS by Patrice Lounet

An article on how Howard started writing Conan and the literary influences for the stories that appeared in this book.

I was introduced to Conan through the old Marvel comics of Roy Thomas back when I was a kid. I loved them and the movies. Yet I never read Howard until this volume came out. A complete collection of his Conan in order of how he wrote it. No pastiches or rewritten stories but the pure Howard. I loved them. In fact they so inspired me that the short story I wrote is the only one I have ever sold. He has such a beautiful prose to his stories. These are before political correctness and focus groups. He truly believed in the philosophy that barbarism is the natural state and civilization is the abnormal. He didn’t idealize barbarism just accepted it as the natural state. He wrote them jumping all over Conan’s life from young impetuous thief. To a mercenary captain in an Assyrian type army. A desert chieftain to a pirate. Finally to a king who is a patron of the arts. Howard said that it was meant to be someone telling stories of his life and people just tend to jump around not in chronological order. He created a very rich fictional world that didn’t require and research but familiar enough so the reader could identify the setting.

I really love his writing and this book is an excellent place to start with his Conan to get a true feel for the author.

THE MONSTER FLY AND OTHER STORIES OF THE UNREAL BY CHARLES A. PIDDOCK

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Copyright 1974

THE MONSTER FLY

Sam and Charlie are hiding out from the police outside Yuma City. They see what looks like a plane crash and decide to get out before the police arrive. They drive to the crash site and find a giant ball that changes color. It releases white spheres from an opening. They hatch giant flies which attack them. Later the citizens of Yuma City are attacked by giant flies.

TO THE MIDDLE OF THE EARTH

Captain Leo Leopold is in a meeting with the President of the United States. Seems that Dassia is drilling to the center of the Earth to plant a bomb. They then can threaten to blow up the Earth unless their demands are met. So Leo is to drill down and leave a device that will neutralize the bomb. So he drills down and ends up in Hell with the devil waiting for him.

THE MEN FROM OUTER SPACE

Two aliens Kral and Gak land on a strange new world. They are attacked by a giant centipede. Then they are crushed by the foot of little Billy Cranshaw. The two year old makes sure no more visitors will ever come to planet Earth.

THE TIME MACHINE

Red and Billy are two bums looking for a warm place to spend the night. They come on a garage and see a guy who is building something leave. Going in they find that the thing he was working on is a time machine. They try it out and end up in 1944. The appearance of the machine causes a car to hit a ten year old. When the two go to help they find out it is Red as a child. They jump back into the machine and go back to the present. Only Red is not their. Billy goes to the police and finds out that Red dies as a child in 1944.

THE ZOO

Robert Harrison is upset at his family. They seem content with their lives. While getting drunk mechanical arms come out of the wall and restrain him. His family continue on as if nothing has happened. Later in the morning they join the neighborhood as they go out and play sports. A tram comes along with aliens to see the human exhibit. A voice warns not to feed the humans but the aliens do anyway. As his family go to get the food Robert cries.

NIGHT DRIVER

Cindy is driving home in a winter night in Kansas. A snowstorm causes her car to break down. Luckily a truck comes by and gives her a lift. The man seems friendly but mysteriously talks about saving a lot more lives. She is dropped off at an old couples home and finds out the man is a ghost. He died in a crash that killed a bus full of kids and now goes around trying to make amends.

THE SPIDER GOD

Captain Billy Joe Smith is with some South Vietnamese soldiers checking out a village. A building is still standing and they chase a VC into it. A fight ensures and Billy sees it is some temple. Filled with cages of spiders and an idol of a giant spider. Billy puts out his cigar in the eyes of the idol offending the Spider God. Years later in Denver him and his little daughter are attacked by hordes of spiders. Back in the village the idols eyes then start to glow signaling that the god has been avenged.

So this was a book that I checked out of the school library when I was in second grade. It is written for young kids and has illustrations on every other page to show what the story is trying to convey. The illustrations by Richard Maccabe are crude but effective in visualizing the story. I still vividly remember the drilling to Hell and meeting the Devil and the human zoo. The stories were quite effective on a young mind that I still remembered them after all these years and decided to search out this book. An enjoyable nostalgic trip back to my childhood.

HEROES BOOK III

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Copyright 1992.

ABLE TEAMSecret Justice by Dick Stivers(Ken Rose)

Able Team uncovers an operation run by a rich billionaire with help from elements of the Justice Department. Criminals that have been getting off on technicalities are being taken to a secret prison run in the Arizona desert. Torture, forced labor and executions are common in this extra-judicial concentration camp. Able Team is assigned to put a stop to this violation of the U.S. Constitution. So they manage to infiltrate the prison and cause a general uprising among the inmates.

PHOENIX FORCETerror in Warsaw by Gar Wilson(William Fieldhouse)

As the Berlin Wall was collapsing diehard Communists were planing to strike back. Under a KGB agent the group was known as Macka the Russian word for mask. This cabal would bid their time to undermine the fledgling democracies and bring back Communism. So years later the group is smuggling drugs into Poland and framing American businessmen. The drugs are tainted and killing people. Their ultimate goal to turn the people against the West. They didn’t count on Phoenix Force. The President concerned by the growing drug problem sends this elite squad to take on these Communists the only way they know how. With guns on full auto.

So the final book in the Heroes line from Gold Eagle was actually two books glued together. So we get an Able Team and Phoenix Book. Now both books were enjoyable. The first was a bit over the top with some kooky rich guy and his fascist plans to run a private concentration camp system in the U.S. That would be hard to hide and of course the book does show that. If you suspend some disbelief you get a fun action story.

The second was very much a plausible thing at the time. The Eastern European countries were just throwing off Communism and their was much concern that the resulting instability could destabilize this whole region. So evil unreformed Communists causing trouble was quite believable at the time.

The series didn’t last more than three books. It seems to originally envision three stories for Vietnam: Ground Zero, Able Team and Phoenix Force. Well the Vietnam story was dropped after the first book and by the third it was only two stories of Able Team and Phoenix Force. So I suppose that what sunk this series was several things. One was that the books are thicker than bricks. At four hundred pages plus that could have been a big discouragement. The other is the generic title and equally generic covers. Combined with the length and that most likely discouraged anyone from picking it up.

Now Vietnam: Ground Zero was completely dropped and never heard from again. Able Team and Phoenix Force were rolled into one series called Stony Man. That lasted until 2015 so much have been doing something right. So if you are a fan of any of the three series you should give this series a try. All the stories were top notch and enjoyable.

HEROES BOOK II

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Copyright 1992.

PHOENIX FORCEHell Quest by Gar Wilson(William Fieldhouse)

A U.S. spy satellite has gone down in Ethiopia. So the Phoenix Force is assigned the task of retrieving it. So they must now navigate a country in a civil war with many different factions. In addition teams from Israel and Libya are also there looking to retrieve the satellite and its valuable intelligence. Its a race to see who gets to it first.

ABLE TEAMDeath Lash by Dick Stivers(David North)

The Draculi were the most feared division of the secret police in Romania. Now that the Communist government has been overthrown the group must flee the country. They decide to set up shop in the U.S. and become a criminal enterprise. Selling stolen information to contract killing the group has ambitious plans. First they must steal a super computer from the government. Now Able Team must track down this rogue group and make sure they don’t establish themselves in America.

PHOENIX FORCEDirty Mission by Gar Wilson(Mike Linaker)

A new drug ring in Europe is targeting American soldiers. Washington is alarmed at the rise of the drug deaths and so sends in Phoenix Force to take care of it. They arrive and find that a Colombian cartel has infiltrated the police in Britain. So now Phoenix Force must take down this growing threat the best way they know how, with extreme prejudice.

So the second book in the series includes two Phoenix Force and one Able Team. These stories are a time capsule of the early nineties. The first involves the endless civil war in Ethiopia that was going on for decades and finally winding down after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The starving children dominated the news and inspired endless concerts and fund raisers. Well intentions but mostly useless as the aid ended up warehoused to rot due to the government withholding aid to their rebellious regions or selling it to prop up their military.

The second deals with the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and a rogue group of former secret police from Romania. That was fresh at the time and is a good idea for some villains for Able Team to battle.

The Final is one about the Colombian drug cartels which was also a big thing at the time. All three stories were excellent and enjoyable reads. Filled with wall to wall action and battles with Uzis and AK-47’s. Makes me nostalgic for the nineties.

HEROES BOOK I

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Copyright 1992.

ABLE TEAMRazorback by Dick Stivers(David North)

Hermann “Gadgets” Schwarz is part of the three man Able Team. A clandestine group that is part of the organization known as Stony Man. Gadgets was wounded on the last mission and has time off to recover. While visiting his old martial arts instructor he runs into an old comrade from Vietnam. He invites him over to his farm in Arkansas for some razorback boar hunting. He soon finds out his old buddy is in league with a corrupt sheriff. The sheriff is buying stolen military assault rifles from a white supremacist biker gang and selling it to Colombian drug lords. Soon he finds himself fighting for his life while waiting for his teammates to rescue him.

PHOENIX FORCESurvival Run by Gar Wilson(Mike Linaker)

The U.S. Secretary of State is kidnapped while visiting Saudi Arabia. The group Hammer of Allah is a radical Shiite group lead by the Iranian Abu Niad. The group plans to execute the secretary and broadcast it live on July 4. So Phoenix Force a clandestine group is assigned to rescue him. The search takes the team from Saudi Arabia, to Lebanon and finally an exciting rescue at the terrorists camp in Libya.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZEROZebra Cube by David Baxter(Nicolas Cain)

A high level prisoner exchange is taking place on the Cambodian border. Captain Tate and his squad are to oversee the exchange. Only problem is a renegade Arvin police chief Quac is against this exchange and attempts to stop it. The exchange is really a cover for the NVA to go after a high ranking prisoner General Tran. Tran has been imprisoned in the notorious Zebra Cube so named because of its black and white stripe paint job. A shipping container that is constantly moved. Now Tate and his men must stop the NVA from freeing this notorious prisoner.

So back in the early nineties Gold Eagle decided to merge three of their titles into this anthology series. I got this because it has a lost story from Vietnam: Ground Zero an excellent series. First they decided to give the series a whole new face-lift. A new house name was assigned to the author and new characters were created. It was assigned to the writer of the excellent Saigon Commandos series. He did an excellent job of this story. There was also a subplot about a member of the team returning home to Indiana to attend his parents funeral and getting involved with a Vietnamese stripper. It actually tied in to the main plot. This was also the last Vietnam: Ground Zero ever written. Why they decided to abandon the story I have no idea. Possibly by the nineties the Vietnam war craze was dying down and it didn’t hold much appeal anymore. Still an enjoyable take on the series.

The other two stories are spin offs from the popular Mack Bolan The Executioner series. It involved a clandestine organization called Stony Man that fought the various threats to America. Able Team handled domestic threats while Phoenix Force the international ones. I always wanted to try these series out and now I got my chance. I will say that they were very well written. I read the other stories in the next two anthologies and can say the quality was consistent as we will explore in future posts. I have no doubt that more books are in my future.

WORLDS OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS EDITED BY MIKE RESNICK AND ROBERT T. GARCIA

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Copyright 2013 except The Forgotten Seas of Mars 1965.

TARZAN AND THE GREAT WAR by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Tarzan is in the Kasbah looking for leads to his wife Jane who was taken by Germans. After meeting a man who had no information he is contacted by French intelligence. They want to use him in exposing a group of traitors selling secrets to the Germans. Soon after the head of intelligence is murdered and Tarzan is battling the traitors with the help of an Englishman who had come to strip Tarzan of his title and fortune for the war effort.

THE FALLEN A TALE OF PELLUCIDAR by Mercedes Lackey

A story told by Mok who is an intelligent Sagoth in the service of David Innes. Mok was experimented on by the Mahars and is the only intelligent Sagoth. While visiting Kolk the king of Thuria in the Land of Awful Shadow a woman with wings falls from the sky. She is an inhabitant of the Dead World. Her people are under attack by the Mahars who have fled to the moon after being defeated. Mok is the only one who can communicate with her since she uses the same language as the Mahars. They have an adventure with a storm and hostile island natives. The woman falls in love with the kings son.

SCORPION MEN OF VENUS by Richard A. Lupoff

Carson and Duare are under attack by scorpion men and flying snakes when they are rescued by a mysterious flying ship. It takes them to a complex run by Dr. Bodog and his daughter and son. Bodog comes from Earth and the continent that sank in the Pacific ocean centuries ago. He is also insane and plans to take over the Earth. He goes back with Carson and his daughter who Carson has fallen in love with and land in Los Angeles during a football game.

THE FORGOTTEN SEA OF MARS by Mike Resnick

The writer is in an Arizona cabin that was used by Edgar Rice Burroughs. He meets John Carter and convinces him to tell the story after he defeated Hin Abtol. So Carter starts the search for Tan Hadron who disappeared when mutineers took him. From criminals in Zodanga he learns of another underground sea at the north pole. In the city of Ayathor he finds Hin Abtol continuing his plans of world conquest with another large army of men frozen. He finds Tan Hadron and with another rebel manage to overthrow him.

APACHE LAWMAN by Ralph Roberts

Shoz-Djiji the Apache Devil has settled down in the white man’s world. He manages the ranch of his love Wichita Billings. One day Marshal Fast Sam Dawson comes and offers Shoz a job as a deputy sheriff. Seems another renegade Apache has learned from the white-eyes and plans to take over the territorial government. He manages to stop his plans.

MOON MAID OVER MANHATTAN by Peter David

The story of Nah-ee-lah when she came to Earth. At first she is a celebrity and hounded by the press. Later the Kalkars those commie moon men invade. When her husband dies while killing Orthis she and her young son hide out in Canada. They are pursued by Orthis’s woman and her son for revenge.

TARZAN AND THE MARTIAN INVADERS by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt

Tarzan is at his English manor when he comes across writing from his ancestor who sailed with Drake. He finds out that Martians are coming to invade in Africa where he was born and raised. He goes back and gathers the apes and other animals to fight these tentacled invaders who can control the minds of men.

THE TWO BILLYS A MUCKER STORY by Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens

Billy Byrne has made the ultimate sacrifice by leaving his love Barbara Harding. He soon after gets a message from her that her fiance was kidnapped. So Billy goes off into the Chicago underworld to get him back.

TO THE NEAREST PLANET as told to Todd McCaffrey

The author buys an old typewriter and Edgar Rice Burroughs used. It starts typing and tells the story of Tangor and his trip from Poloda to find another world free of Kapars. The first world they come to Tonos. This world was destroyed in a war and now run by a computer. The remaining people are dying off until he educates them on how to run the machines on the world.

THE DEAD WORLD as related by David Innes to F. Paul Wilson via Gridley wave

David Innes is visiting Thuria when a meteor strikes. It releases a deadly spore that soon takes over the Land of Awful Shadow and starts spewing poisonous gas. David with Perry and Koort the young son of the king of Thuria go by balloon to the Dead World. They find out that the moon is really an artificial ship created by ancient aliens that created Pellucidar. Now they are returning and terraforming Pellucidar. David and friend have to battle cleaning robots to stop the plan.

TARZAN AND THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT by Joe R. Lansdale

Tarzan is coming back from Pellucidar in the O-220 when a story blows the ship to the southern hemisphere and crashes into the ocean. The only survivors are Tarzan, Captain Zuppner and a young Pellucidarian girl named Zamona. The make it to Caspak and battle cannibals that fly pterodactyls. Zuppner and Zamona decide to stay as Tarzan searches for a way home.

This was a cool idea for an anthology. Getting a bunch of writer together and put out stories from the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs. They manage to cover all the base with not only Tarzan and John Carter but Pellucidar and Venus. They also get stories from Burrough’s lesser know works like the Moon Men, Apache Devil the Mucker and Caspak. They even had the continuing story from Beyond the Farthest Star. Many of the writers did a good job of emulating Burroughs. Even using the various first person narratives. Some like the martian invaders or the second Pellucidar story did not feel like something Burroughs would have written but were still entertaining.

The only story I didn’t care for was Lupoff’s Carson story. It was very un-Burroughs like to have Carson and Duare so quickly fall out of love. The romance that Burroughs wrote was one of the strong points to his writing and he just casually has them switch partners. It also just ended like it was only halfway through the story. I suppose there might be a continuation but I found it a complete waste of time. In spite of this story the others made this book a worthy effort.

PLANET OF THE APES TALES FROM THE FORBIDDEN ZONE EDITED BY RICH HANDLEY AND JIM BEARD

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Copyright 2017.

UNFIRED by Dan Abnett

A group of mutants is making a pilgrimage to the holy church in the east. They are lead by a mutant who is unfired i.e. surgically altered so he does not have his psychic power and can kill to protect the pilgrims. They deliver a recently discovered holy scripture the launch codes for the Alpha-Omega missile.

MORE THAN HUMAN, LESS THAN APE by Nancy A. Collins

A young Cornelius goes on an archaeological expedition. They are ambushed by a tribe of baboons. Cornelius befriends the leader and lives among them and learns their culture. An army of gorillas comes and massacres the tribe. Baboons are monkeys and not apes so there is no violation of the sacred scrolls.

BLOOD BROTHERS by Will Murray

From the TV series. Galen, Virdon and Burke are continuing their quest and come to the Napa valley. It is inhabited by Native Americans lead by a gorilla. The gorilla was raised by the tribe and is their chief. He is also the brother of General Urko. He defeats Urko and the fugitives continue on.

THE PACING PLACE by Bob Mayer

An alternate world in which Taylor and Nova are not captured by mutants. They found a settlement called Fort Wayne and teach the younger humans how to talk. The pacing place is the place that Taylor paced while waiting for the birth of his son. A tradition starts where all men pace when their women are giving birth. Taylor dies with a thriving human civilization started.

MURDERER’S ROW by John Jackson Miller

A TV producer for the Hexagon Broadcasting Network has a show that will make the network competitive. He will get the future apes Zira and Cornelius to do a variety show on Saturday also known as Murderer’s Row for the killer competition.

ENDANGERED SPECIES by Greg Cox

Years before the movie a young chimpanzee researcher named Janae is studying humans. She notices that they seem to suppress the ability to speak and decides to try and teach a human to speak. She is murdered by gorillas to stop this heresy.

DANGEROUS IMAGININGS by Paul Kupperberg

A brilliant chimpanzee in an alternate future where the Earth wasn’t destroyed finds the backpack of the astronauts. He uses what he finds to invent new and wondrous inventions. This causes Zaius and the science council to crack down because these inventions are inspired by human technology.

OF MONSTERS AND MEN by Kevin J. Anderson and Sam Knight

A young Zaius goes on a scientific expedition to the Forbidden Zone. It is attacked by lizard creatures and while taking shelter in an old museum learns the truth about humans.

THE UNKNOWN APE by Andrew E.C. Gaska

A story from the animated series. General Urko has taken control of the Alpha-Omega missile and plans to use it against his enemies. Then a mixed army of apes, humans and mutants are lead by the Unknown Ape. This ape is Caesar from the past. With his friends Virgil and MacDonald have traveled to the future to stop the destruction of the world. Caesar manages to destroy the missile by sacrificing his life. Peace ensues between humans, mutants and apes.

SILENCED by Jim Beard

A tale of a young woman who was Taylor’s girlfriend. She had his daughter who was a worker at Ape Management when Caesar takes over. Later a descendant is the queen of the last human city. Finally the last descendant is Nova who speaks just before she is killed.

WHO IS THIS MAN? WHAT SORT OF DEVIL IS HE? by Robert Greenberger

General Urko from the TV series is recovering from his injuries with his family. He tells them of a time year before when he killed other human astronauts that arrived.

STONE MONKEY by Greg Keys

In Asia a siamang is hunted by a gorilla warlord. The warlord wants to live forever and forces the siamang to lead him to the immortal stone monkey. Instead he lead him to a refuge for oppressed monkeys that kill him. It is revealed that the siamang is the immortal monkey from human experiments long ago.

MILO’S TALE by Ty Templeton

Milo is from an advanced chimpanzee society far to the south. He comes with an expedition to investigate the crash of an old human ship. While rebuilding it he meets Zira and Cornelius. While in the ship an army of gorillas arrives and forces them to launch. They witness the destruction of Earth.

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE by Dayton Ward

Galen, Virdon and Burke from the TV series come on the ruins of an old missile silo. Inside they find a message from a group of humans located at Area 51. They invite the fugitive and they manage to flee before General Urko arrives.

THE KING IS DEAD-LONG LIVE THE KING by Rich Handley

Caesar twenty years later is ruling a prosperous settlement. He decides he wants to make peace with the mutants and sends his son. The mutant ruler Mendez comes but Caesar’s son then kills his mother while the wife of Mendez kills her husband. The mutants leave and it is revealed that a mutant with mind control staged the killing because he was opposed to the peace.

BANANA REPUBLIC by Jonathan Maberry

A temple being built on the fringes of ape civilization uncovers a secret. The New Orleans Naval Reserve armory. Inside are stacks of assault rifles and grenades. An orangutan and gorilla decide to use the weapons against the growing power of the heretical chimpanzees.

An anthology of short stories from the original Planet of the Apes universe. Not only all the movies but the TV series and Saturday morning cartoon. What a great idea. Every story was excellent and there wasn’t a dud in the whole book which is rare for a seventeen story anthology. Obviously the level of writers and their passion for the subject helped. Hopefully there will be many more of such anthologies. A true must read for any Planet of the Apes fan.

TORG MYSTERIOUS CAIRO EDITED BY ED STARK

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Copyright 1992.

INTRODUCTION By Ed Stark

‘Square Jaw’ Nichols is about to be fitted with cement shoes and tossed into the Nile by some mobsters. He is saved by the intervention of Captain Cairo. A short little introduction to the world of Cairo in the Nile Empire.

KNOWING THE RULES By Ed Stark

Jack Reynolds is an expatriate American living in Cairo. Since the arrival of Dr. Mobius and his Nile realm he has now got a job as a private investigator. One day the wife of the notorious mob boss Max Burban wants him to find her missing husband. This leads him to a plot by a Japanese corporation to take over the Cairo underworld.

CARNIVAL VOICE By Bill Slavicsek

Angus Cage is getting drunk at a local bar when he is approached by Quentin Payne. Payne owns a shop of strange oddities. He wants Angus to help him resurrect a past pharaoh who is the doppelganger of Dr. Mobius. In exchange he will return to him his beloved Clemeta. Payne is stealing spirits from innocent people so Cage decides to end his plan.

THE SCARAB’S STING By Grey Farshtey

The Silver Scarab is a superhero who gets involved in a plot by the French resistance to frame the Mystery men for crimes against the Cyberpope. They hoped to get the Mystery Men in the fight on their side.

THE SANDS OF CHANGE By Steven Brown

Phillip Collington is a student from England who was affected by the reality storm that changed Egypt. He is now an expert in weird science and helps the Mystery Men with his expertise. One day he gets involved with the hero Sandstorm and his life gets some unexpected excitement.

CRY HAVOC By John Terra

A group of Stormknights are heading to Cairo. They heard rumors of Dr. Mobius developing some new weapon. The group consists of a Core Earth Journalist, a Japanese ninja, an Aylse barbarian woman, and a renegade Hospitaller from the Cyberpapacy. The plane gets shot down and they are rescued by Major Havoc a Mystery Man who carries twin .45s. They destroy a giant robot Sphinx that Dr. Mobius developed. This is what is depicted on the cover.

ICARUS DESCENDING By Greg Farshtey

Paul Bennington owns the Club Icarus. He also runs a criminal exchange that matches criminals to those that need such skills. He has to fight off a Japanese corporation and their ninja assassins who are trying to take over his business.

DEAD END By Shane Lacy Hensley

A young woman has become the superhero Raven to avenge her father’s death. She is ambushed by deadly assassins and is saved by The Shroud. Together the two stop a plot by Dr. Mangler from replacing the leaders of the Nile Empire with clones.

THE DREAMS OF MIDNIGHT By Bill Smith

A professor is assigned by Dr. Mobius to study the strange powers of a young English girl whose parents were killed in an accident. He finds out that the girl holds an ancient spirit and that spirit switches bodies with the professor.

The third anthology for the Torg series. Once again they decide to go back to the Nile Empire. I thing this was the best of their anthologies. They decided to concentrate on what makes this realm so interesting. Namely the superheroes and villains. The weird science and pulp gangsters. They also had some interaction with other cosms. While some stories were better than others they seemed to be on the right track in their stories.