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Solomon Kane: Enough of this gay banter. Let's get lowbrow! I was reading a book of Conan stories and I learned that Robert Howard had created a Puritan swordsman character almost exactly like the character I created in Degeneracy. One day I needed to buy a book at retail or face the terrible fate of being bored on the subway. I bought an edition of Howard's Solomon Kane tales and read 'em.

Okay, dude is so not a Puritan. He wears a big hat, and accasionally he remembers he's Christian. That's about it. Maybe a Puritan swordsman would be interested in... purifying the church? Imposing the priesthood of all believers? Kicking popery's ass? No, Solomon Kane cares not for these things. He does the same stuff as Howard's other heroes, except he does it in a dour brooding way. Current mood: stern.

Solomon Kane spends a lot of time in Africa. He discovers lost civilizations. He fights the undead. He has a magical staff his witch doctor buddy gave him. He's Conan, except smarter and not as fun to be around. The 1920s pulp great-chain-of-being racism stands out in stark relief here; it's not as noticeable when Conan is the viewpoint character.

Solomon Kane's schtick is protecting the weak. His modus operandi is to wander the earth, he knows not why, until he finds or hears about someone who's weak (inevitably a woman), and then he protects the hell out of that person to the exclusion of all other activities. His most interesting trait is this obsessiveness. In these stories he tracks people down for years to get revenge on someone who wronged a weak. More than any of the two-cents-a-word descriptions, this is the bit of characterization that makes Solomon Kane come alive.

The stories are never boring, there's some nice cosmos-mixing, and a great moment where Solomon Kane is the victim of great-chain-of-being racism. But I was really disappointed with the way the character was used. He's written as an AD&D paladin, full of do-gooding crusader spirit but with no specific religious beliefs. And the stories are mostly "lost continent" adventure tales divorced from the historical context. If I'd written these stories I'd have him fighting the Royalists. Okay, undead Royalists.

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