Solomon Kane

Solomon Kane character
Solomon Kane
John Silent
EnemiesLe Loup
The Fishhawk
First appearance"Red Shadows"
Created byRobert 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 tall, sombre and gloomy man of pale skin, gaunt 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 later 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.

When Weird Tales published the story "Red Nails", featuring Conan the Barbarian, the editors introduced it as a tale of "a barbarian adventurer named Conan, remarkable for his sheer force of valor and brute strength. Its author, Robert E. Howard, is already a favorite with the readers of this magazine for his stories of Solomon Kane, the dour English Puritan and redresser of wrongs".


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.

"Red Shadows"

Red bordered magazine cover; the central illustration shows a man holding a supine woman
Weird Tales (August 1928) featuring "Red Shadows", the first Solomon Kane story

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.

"Skulls in the Stars"

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.

"Rattle of Bones"

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.

"The Moon of Skulls"

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".

"Hills of the Dead"

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.

"The Footfalls Within"

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.

"Wings in the Night"

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.

"Blades of the Brotherhood"

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").

"The Right Hand of Doom"

First published in Red Shadows. Kane plays a minimal role in this story. A condemned wizard seeks revenge on the man who betrayed him.


"Death's Black Riders"

First published in The Howard Collector #10, Spring 1968. Just a few lines completed. Kane meets a shadowy ghost rider on the road.

"The Castle of the Devil"

First published in Red Shadows, Grant, 1968. 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.

"The Children of Asshur"

First published in Red Shadows. Kane comes across a lost city of Assyrians.

"Hawk of Basti"

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.

Other authors who completed these fragments

  • Ramsey Campbell has completed Howard's three sizable fragments, and several compilations contain some of these collaborations. The 1978 and 1979 Bantam editions and 1996 Baen edition (ISBN 0-671-87695-3) in which Campbell's continuation and completion of Howard's fragments are printed do not delineate the exact spot at which the author changes. Comparing these to the 2004 Ballantine edition, The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, gives us that information:
The Castle of the Devil: The final Howard sentence is the following:
"Your speech is wild and Godless," said Kane. "But I begin to like you." (page 64 of Bantam edition, Skulls in the Stars)
Hawk of Basti: The final Howard sentence is the following:
Then calling to a man who had the appearance of a chief, he ordered him to walk between himself and Kane. (page 33 of Bantam edition, The Hills of the Dead)
The Children of Asshur: Howard completed parts I through III (Part III ends on page 129 of Bantam edition, The Hills of the Dead)
  • Javier Martin Lalanda has completed Howard's fragments in Las Aventuras De Solomon Kane, the complete Spanish edition of the Kane stories.
  • Gianluigi Zuddas has completed Howard's fragments in Solomon Kane, Fanucci, Rome, 1979, the complete Italian edition of the Kane stories.
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