Friday, November 10, 2017

A Smooth Mask

Because I've been critical of Robert E. Howard, I should also point out a story in which he handled his methods well. Here, for example, in a most economical way, he states a theme to foreshadow events:

"He was king of Valusia -- a fading, degenerate Valusia, a Valusia living mostly in dreams of bygone glory, but still a mighty land and the greatest of the Seven Empires. Valusia -- Land of Dreams, the tribesmen named it, and sometimes it seemed to Kull that he moved in a dream. Strange to him were the intrigues of court and palace, army and people. All was like a masquerade, where men and women hid their real thoughts with a smooth mask [...] And now a strange feeling of dim unrest, of unreality, stole over him as of late it had been doing. Who was he, a straightforward man of the seas and the mountain, to rule a race strangely and terribly wise with the mysticisms of antiquity? An ancient race --

"'I am Kull!' said he, flinging back his head as a lion flings back his mane. 'I am Kull!'

"His falcon gaze swept the ancient hall. His self-confidence flowed back…. And in a dim nook of the hall a tapestry moved -- slightly."

-- "The Shadow Kingdom."

I would have cut back on "strange" and "strangely," but still, I have to respect what he does, here.

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