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Literature: Solomon Kane
"He never sought to analyze his motives and he never wavered, once his mind was made up. Though he always acted on impulse, he firmly believed that all his actions were governed by cold and logical reasonings. He was a man born out of his time — a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan, though the last assertion would have shocked him unspeakably. An atavist of the days of blind chivalry he was, a knight errant in the somber clothes of the fanatic. A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things, avenge all crimes against right and justice. Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect — he was true to his ideals of justice and right. Such was Solomon Kane."
Robert E. Howard, "Moon of Skulls"

Solomon Kane is a character created by Robert E. Howard in 1928. He appears in several short stories by Howard.

A 16th 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 somber 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 consists of a rapier, a dagger, and a couple of flintlock pistols. During one of his latter adventures his friend N'Longa, a black African shaman, gave him a juju staff that served as a protection against evil, but could easily be wielded as an effective 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.

The Solomon Kane stories (like most of Howard's writing) are a peripheral part of the Cthulhu Mythos. One story, "Death's Black Riders" (by Robert E. Howard and C.J. Henderson), pits Kane against Tsathoggua, a well-known Great Old One.

Some of the original stories here. As of 2010, he's having a bit of a renaissance, with a new comic, roleplaying game, and live-action movie.
    Stories by Robert E. Howard 
  • Red Shadows. First published in August, 1928.
  • Skulls in the Stars. First published in January, 1929.
  • Rattle of Bones. First published in June, 1929.
  • Blades of the Brotherhood, also known as The Blue Flame of Vengeance. There are 3 known versions of this tale Two by Howard, and one by John Pocsik. Howard wrote his original version in 1929, but could not find a publisher for it. This version was first published in 1968. Howard wrote a second version in 1932, replacing Solomon Kane with Malachi Grim. This version was not published until 2007. Pocsik revised the original story and added new elements in it. His version was first published in 1964.
  • The Moon of Skulls. First published in 2 parts, from June to July, 1930.
  • Hills of the Dead. First published in August, 1930.
  • The Footfalls Within. First published in September, 1931.
  • Wings in the Night. First published in July, 1932.
  • Solomon Kane's Homecoming. Poem. First published in Spring, 1936. An elderly Solomon Kane returns to his native Devon, contemplating retirement. He learns that Bess (apparently his former lover) is long dead, and nobody remembers him. He steps away once again, heading for unknown destinations. The story is seen as a finale for the character, with the date estimated to c. 1610.
  • The One Black Stain. Poem, first published in Spring 1962. Kane attends the trial and execution of Thomas Doughty (1545-1578). He has an argument with the man responsible Francis Drake (1540-1596). This is the only Solomon Kane story with a specific date for the events covered.
  • The Right Hand of Doom. First published in 1968. Unusually, Solomon Kane is actually a peripheral character in this story.
  • The Castle of the Devil. Left in fragmentary form, first published in 1968. Ramsey Campbell wrote a completed version of the story in 1978.
  • The Children of Asshur. Left in fragmentary form, first published in 1968. Ramsey Campbell wrote a completed version of the story in 1978.
  • Hawk of Basti. Left in fragmentary form, first published in 1968. Ramsey Campbell wrote a completed version of the story in 1978.
  • The Return of Sir Richard Grenville. Poem. First published in 1968. Solomon Kane encounters the ghost of his old friend Richard Grenville (1542-1591).
  • Death's Black Riders. Left in fragmentary form, first published in Spring, 1968. Several writers have created alternate completed versions of the story.

Tropes:

  • Abusive Precursors: Kane believes the Atlanteans to have been these, considering it good fortune that such a civilization would fall.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The blacks in "The Moon of Skulls" and the Akaana.
  • Ancient Africa: Some stories are set here.
  • Anti-Hero: Type II
  • As the Good Book Says: For example, after the lost city of Negari collapses and crumbles, Kane recalls a prophetic passage of ruin from the book of Isaiah.
  • Badass Boast: A bit more somberly stated that most, but "It has fallen upon me, now and again in my sojourns through the world, to ease various evil men of their lives." Almost a Badass Creed, as he seems to like using the phrase (Once in "The Blue Flame of Vengeance", once in "The Castle of the Devil").
  • Badass Normal: It's a Robert E. Howard character.
  • The Berserker: He's really a kind man, and usually almost uncannily calm and controlled, but when he does snap (like in "Wings in the Night"), it's quite a sight.
  • Berserk Button: Slavery. Kane who keeps a remarkably cool head in front of the fiercest human bandits and supernatural Eldritch Abominations became nearly hysterical with rage when he saw a band of slavers torturing captured Africans ("The Footfalls Within").
  • Black Best Friend: N'Longa
  • Blood Brothers: N'longa and Kane.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Jeremy Hawk
  • But Not Too Black: Zunna is referred to as a "higher type" of negro due to her more traditionally Caucasian features, attributed to a Berber strain.
  • But Now I Must Go
  • Celibate Hero: Kane
  • Church Militant: Or a milder Knight Templar, take your pick.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Kane vs. Sir George:
    With a great advantage in height, weight, strength, and reach, Kane had still other advantages - those of skill and of speed.
  • Darkest Africa: Oft does Kane venture forth into the thick dark jungles where the beasts make their lairs, the primitive tribesmen chant black magic, and naked rulers eat others.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: N'longa can be a bit creepy even to a modern reader. He's a good guy because he keeps limits on how to use his significant magical powers, mainly to help others.
  • Demon Slaying
  • The Determinator / Always Gets His Man: Kane will pursue wrong-doers across all continents to avenge the innocent and defeat villains.
  • Devil but No God: Kane comes across various kinds of supernatural phenomena in his travels, both good and evil, but never anything that would confirm the existence of his God, and this causes him a great deal of internal turmoil.
  • Dual Wielding: Kane often uses a rapier and a dagger.
  • Duel to the Death: Kane engages in these often with his human opponents.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Kane sometimes battles these.
  • Eloquent In My Native Tongue: N'longa. When he speaks to Kane through his dreams and in one of the river language Kane knows, he's impressively well-spoken to the point of delivering a fairly epic Dark Is Not Evil speech at the end of "The Hills of the Dead". However, he sticks to pidgin English when talking to Kane simply because he's proud that he's learned it.
    • He also seems to be aware that he spooks Kane out, and makes himself a bit of an Uncle Tomfoolery to avoid becoming too threatening with his black magic to a Puritan Christian.
  • For Great Justice: Kane's motivation, although more grim about it than usual for the trope.
  • Genius Bruiser: Kane, for he is not only a skilled swordfighter but also crafts cunning plans within his imaginative mind.
  • Guns Akimbo: With two snaphaunce (an early form of flintlock) pistols. They're single-shot weapons, so it actually makes sense and was done in real life.
  • Harping On About Harpies: The akaanas from "Wings in the Night"
  • Helping Hands: "The Right Hand of Doom"
  • Ideal Hero: The case could be made that he's one of these instead of a Type 2 Anti-Hero; the strongest supporting evidence toward this argument lies in the finale of The Blue Flame of Vengeance where he tries to talk one of the villains into walking away from the fight and from the evil men he has aligned himself with. When the villain refuses and subesquently dies, Solomon is visibly grieved and exits the story in a somber mood.
  • In Harm's Way
  • Inn of No Return: "Rattle of Bones"
  • It's Probably Nothing: In "Footfalls Within", the titular footfalls are blithely dismissed as "nothing" by a bunch of slavers, with foreseeable consequences.
  • Kangaroo Court: The poem "The One Black Stain" deals with the aftermath of the (Real Life) trial and execution of Thomas Doughty by Sir Francis Drake:
    Solomon Kane stood forth alone,
    grim man of sober face:
    "Worthy of death he may well be,
    but the trial ye held was mockery,
    "Ye hid your spite in a travesty
    where justice hid her face."
  • Killer Gorilla: One features in the climax of "Red Shadows".
  • Knight Errant: Kane.
  • Knight Templar: Kane
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Kane's human opponents often challenge him thusly, for example, Le Loup and Fish-hawk. And, even without using underhanded tactics, they stand a good chance.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Seemingly Nekari in "The Moon of Skulls". An earthquake destroys the hidden city mere minutes after she is killed.
  • Lost World: "The Moon of Skulls"
  • Magical Negro: N'Longa
    • Only in the literal sense - N'longa helped Kane so he could get reclaim his recently usurped position of power in his tribe. He's not so much a saintly, benevolent figure that solely uses his (actual) magic to aid the white Kane as he is a clever man who knows how to play a situation to his advantage.
      • He does come to Kane's aid in later stories simply to provide magical aid that Kane desperately needs to survive certain encounters. Once he even possesses the body of a young warrior from miles away to help Kane fight some vampires.
  • Man Bites Man: In "The Children of Asshur." Kane is not above ripping an opponent's throat out with his teeth when necessary.
  • Meaningful Name: A deeply religious man and determined killer who bears the names of the man most favored by God and the first murderer.
  • Mighty Whitey: subverted in Wings in the Night, when villagers in Africa, impressed by Solomon's guns, beg him to protect them against flying monsters. Kane is helpless when the monsters in overwhelming number slaughter the entire population.
    • Subverted again in Hills Of The Dead, when a girl impressed by Kane's one shot kill of a charging lion deems him a god. With humility fitting a Puritan he answers "I'm no God, just a man like you, though my skin color is different".
  • Mission from God: Kane is a relentless righter of wrongs. The fact that this generally involves killing people doesn't seem to bother him much (if at all).
  • Mundanger : The Fishhawk and his men from "Blades of the Brotherhood."
  • The Musketeer: Kane normally discharges both of his pistols before drawing his rapier and dagger.
  • Nice Hat: Possibly the Trope Codifier for the (now standard) hat worn by Witch Hunters.
  • Pirate: "Blades of the Brotherhood"
  • Powder Trail: Kane uses one to kill the majority of Le Loup's gang in Red Shadows.
  • Precursors: Kane meets the last Atlantian man in Negari's dungeon. He tells Kane of the vast, terrible ocean empire of his people that ruled great swathes of the world in times past and then dies.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: and Hell, and past, and future, the entire universe, after the village population he was trying to protect at "Wings in the Night" was brutally slaughtered and eaten by the harpies, it's the only time where something manages to truly break poor Kane.
  • Right Makes Might: Or so Solomon believes.
    "The right is on my side," said Kane somberly. "And right is mightier than a thousand men-at-arms."
  • Silver Bullet: Kane uses one in "The Silver Beast of Tonker Town", one of the original stories Marvel Comics ran in Savage Sword of Conan.
  • Speak of the Devil: Nearly used in "The Blue Flame of Vengeance", except that Solomon shows up right as the Fishhawk is about to say his name.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Nakari, although we don't really learn about it until after the fact.
  • Walking the Earth: Kane is stricken with an insatiable wanderlust.
  • Weapon of X Slaying: Kane finds the staff gifted to him by N'Longa to be this type of weapon against supernatural foes.
  • We Can Rule Together: Nakari makes this sort of offer to Kane, and he actually thinks about it, but then ultimately refuses.
  • The Witch Hunter: Kane is a quite unambiguously good case. And he despises actual, official witch hunters.

Solar PonsLiterature of the 1920sThe Sound and the Fury
SimplicissimusAdventure LiteratureThe Spider

alternative title(s): Solomon Kane
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