So, let me drop this casually on you. I’m in a magazine with Robert E. Howard. You might respond with, “Robert E. Howard died quite a long time ago.” Yes. Yes, he did. But his stories live on. And one of his living stories has just been reprinted in Twilight Echoes #1, from Carnelian Press, edited by Steve Dilks. And it so happens that my own story, “A Whisper in Ashes” is also to be found in the same magazine. It makes me a little giddy.
There are stories by two other writers in the mag as well, and plenty of great illustrations, so let me give my brief review here. First up we have my own story, “A Whisper in Ashes.” This is the first tale I completed about a character I call Krieg. Krieg is not a pastiche of any previous sword & sorcery character out there, but his development was certainly influenced by Karl Edward Wagner’s stories of “Kane,” and Howard’s tales of “Kull.” One difference is that nothing is revealed here, or in the first few stories, about Krieg’s origins. We don’t know where he came from and no one will until some of the later stories in the series. So far, only three tales are complete. The second one, “Where all the Souls are Hollow” was recently published in the anthology Unsheathed. The third one, “The Rotted Land,” is ready to be sent out. And two more are in partial stages of completion.
The second story in the magazine is “Bride of the Swamp God” by Davide Mana. I’ve not been familiar with Mana’s work but intend to change that. We’ve got strong characters in Aculeo, a Roman legionary, and Amunet, the daughter of a sorcerer who seeks her own power. Twists and turns and betrayals abound in this tale of sorcerous bargains gone wrong. Throw in an elder god and you have all the ingredients of a great sword and sorcery tale.
The third story is “The Eyes of the Scorpion” by Steve Lines. I was also not familiar with Steve Lines’ work but this is an excellent tale written in an interesting style. For those of you know of Conan, you know of the quote: “Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of…” To me, Lines’ style captures this kind of feel. Great atmospheric piece. I also loved the vocabulary here, which is something I always enjoyed about Robert E. Howard’s work as well.
Finally, we have Robert E. Howard, with a Conan tale called “The Vale of Lost Women.” “Vale” is not one of the better known Conan stories; in fact, it wasn’t published during Howard’s lifetime. These may be the reasons our editor selected it. The plot is very simple. A female captive needs rescuing, but Howard doesn’t give us that rescue in the way we think it’s going to happen. The tale certainly showcases the “vigor” of Howard’s prose. That’s always the word that comes to mind when I read Howard. There’s a “physicality” to his writing that is hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it.
These stories, along with dynamite illustrations by the likes of Jim Pitts, Tony Gleeson, Yannis Rubus Rubulias, Kurt Brugel, and Regis Moulun, as well as a substantive editorial by Steve Dilks, make Twilight Echoes #1 a sweet little package. If you’re interested in picking up a copy, here’s the link you need: https://www.facebook.com/Carnelian-Press-522470481199180/