The last of Robert E. Howard's fantasy stories: The Witch from Hell's Kitchen, The Lost Race and Golnar the Ape.

The Witch from Hell's Kitchen or the House of Arabu doesn't have a lead that is memorable. As a story it is fine, but it could really have been about anyone and it kind of is, if that someone is typical Robert E. Howard leading type: a muscular, tall, a bit sullen and one heck of a fighter. That's Pyrrhas, a foreign fighter in the courts of  Nippur, where he has risen to be a hero of sorts.

Pyrrhas is a man possessed, quite literally. He's seen nightmares of late and he soon learns of a plot against him, where demons have been sent for him. The only thing he can do is to seek help from an ancient priest, who is the only one that can aid him to get rid of them.

If there's one trait about Pyrrhas, that separates him of other Howard characters is, that he's not very likeable nor even very fair man. He has no qualms about beating women nor is he above killing an unarmed man without hesitation. He's a man, who's' out just for himself and everyone else is expendable almost to the extreme. But, in the end, he doesn't come out as a strong personality, as everything Howard has thrown on him is just snippets from his other works. As such he feels more like a placeholder character.

The Witch From Hell's Kitchen is a decent story though so you could do much worse than to read this. The story itself, despite its weak characters and little exposition, is fun enough and could have been turned into a more solid story of its own had Howard not died so young.

The Lost Race is yet another tale of a meeting between modern men and Picts, who have at this point in time already turned into cavern dwelling people, seldom seen by anyone, thus having made into goblins and other little devils of folktales. Some Picts have even turned more feral and are unable to communicate with men or even with each other, but the Picts on this tale are the more communicative kind.

Coraruc is a Celtic warrior on his way home when he stumbles upon a bandit group whom he exchanges blows with. But unknownst to him, they all are on Pict-land and are soon captured. The Picts take him to their hidden, underground lair and are just about to sacrifice him when he's saved by the bell by their leader, whom he managed to rescue earlier.

This is yet another tale, that aims just to flesh out what happened after Howard's Hyperborean age. The character of Coraruc is pretty much a throwaway type, who serves as means of entering the Pict lair and hearing their stories of the past.

Besides that. there's very little else to say about the story itself. It is yet again a solidly written tale from Howard, but it doesn't really have anything spectacularly interesting about it nor does it really shed that much light on what happened when the oceans drank the world. It does tell something about the travels of the Picts, but that's nothing new for Howard, as he had tangled with the history of the fierce race on other stories as well in a more refined manner.

Golnar the Ape is a story I have very little to say, as the version I have seemed to have ended prematurely. Golnar is this mentally feeble character, who lives by the mercy of other people and can't really read nor write. He's someone, who is mocked by the most and pitied by some.

As I stated, the version I have doesn't seem to be complete, which is a shame, as it does seem like an interesting story. It is, the very least, a story with a very atypical hero for Howard, but at least for now it didn't seem to be in the cards for me to read it. I will get back to this one later if I'll ever find a complete version of it.

And this concludes the fantasy stories of Robert E. Howard. My next stop will be his boxing stories and there's a lot of those around.

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