Robert E. Howard is celebrated as the founding father of sword-and-sorcery, the creator of Conan of Cimmeria and Kull of Atlantis. The Black Stranger and Other American Tales demonstrates that in some of his most powerful heroic fantasy and horror stories, he also explored a New World older and more haunted than that which we’ve seen in textbooks or museum exhibits. In Howard's Gothic America, dominion goes hand in hand with damnation and the present never ceases to writhe in the grip of the past.
"The Black Stranger" spearheads the collection. Located at the extreme edge of Hyborian geography and human ruthlessness, this Conan novella has seldom been available until now. All of the Cimmerian's lethal skills may not be enough inside a stockade that shelters a self-exiled, pirate-plagued count, besieged from without and bedeviled from within. Against the backdrop of a demonically hostile dreadwood, Howard recreates the worst nightmares of the earliest European invaders of North America.
In the tales that follow, Howard unearths sinister civilizations that have forgotten the mysteries of their origins on American soil tens of thousands of years ago. That soil is a dark and bloody ground, beneath which the monstrous heirs of ancient wrongs and unsuspected wars wait. A Comanche champion and a lone conquistador stumble upon empires carved out of the primordial Southwest by necromancers. Hot hate given cold flesh lurches on zuvembie legs in "Pigeons from Hell" and lurks in the shuddersome swamps of the Deep South in "Black Canaan."
These stories, here refurbished with authoritative, unexpurgated texts, have transcended the Thirties pulps in which they first saw print. With their unflinching focus on original American sin and even more original sinners, some are sure to take their place next to dark classics like "Young Goodman Brown," "Benito Cereno," and "A Rose for Emily."