A great deal of the fiction Harold Lamb wrote for Adventure featured continuing characters. On this page you'll find every Lamb story featuring a character that appeared at least in two separate Adventure stories (meaning complete stories, not two or three parts of one story--Adventure often divided longer stories over a series of issues). Note that Khlit the Cossack has a separate page devoted to his adventures.
Ayub and Demid both turn up late in the Khlit saga, but they appeared on their own first. Ayub is a Cossack of Herculean strength. He loves to weave fantastic tales almost as much as he loves to drink and fight. Superstitious and fierce, he nevertheless has a soft heart. In the stories "The Baiting of the Warriors," "The King Dies," "Men from Below," and "The Witch from Aleppo," he is joined by Demid, a master swordsman whose cleverness matches that of Khlit. Unlike Khlit, though, Demid is youthful and has an eye for the ladies. Following the novel-length "The Witch of Aleppo," both Demid and Ayub appear with Khlit in the novel White Falcon, and Ayub appears with Khlit in "Bogatyr" and "The Winged Rider." Ayub makes a final appearance in "The Outrider," teamed up this time with a Scottish Colonel in the employ of the Poles, Duncan Stuart.
Of the stories themselves, all are enjoyable. "An Edge to a Sword," "The Witch of Aleppo," and "The Outrider" are particularly good.
All of these tales have now been collected in the Bison collection Riders of the Steppes.
Set almost a hundred years after the Khlit stories, these three tales concern the Cossack Koum, a seasoned Zaporoghian Cossack with a strong taste for drink and a penchant for playing the bagpipes. In the latter two stories he is fortunate to join forces with the far shrewder Gurka, a Cossack who is a former Hungarian count. "The Post in the Steppe" is an especially good read.
All of these stories have now been collected in the Bison collection Swords of the Steppes.
(Doubleday, 1931, Grant, 1982. Originally Published in Adventure--see below)
Durandal is the fabled sword of Roland, and in these three stories ("The Shield" is related only peripherally) it is handed off to Sir Hugh of Taronto, a young crusader. These novels are among Lamb's finest work--brimming with headlong action and resonating with somber power. Sir Hugh's contingent is left to die by the Byzantine Emporer Theodore Lascaris, and Sir Hugh, the only survivor, vows to avenge his fallen comrades. He must be ever vigilant against the long arm of Lascaris, and there are other entanglements; his capture by the Arab leader Khalil el Kadr, who becomes a boon comrade; his meeting with the expanding forces of the Mongolian horde in the person of the famed leader Subotai; the heroic, clever, and lovely maiden Rusudan, whom Sir Hugh wins and then must rescue from Lascaris in Constantinople itself. It is difficult to summarize the epic without giving away its many sudden and thrilling turns.
"The Shield" is narrated by Khalil el Kadr before he meets Sir Hugh, and is a novella concerning his appearance in Constantinople on the eve of its storming, and how he obtains his horse, Kubt, who figures in the story of Sir Hugh.
"Durandal" has been published in two forms: as a novel linking "Durandal," "The Sea of Ravens," and "Rusudan" (Doubleday, 1931) and more recently in standalone form by Donald M. Grant (Grant, 1982). "The Sea of Ravens" was also published separately, by Grant, in 1983. The Grant editions are exquisitely illustrated by George Barr and Alicia Austin and reprint Lamb's original introductions, something the earlier hardback didn't do.
These two novellas feature the crusader, Nial O'Gordon, and they are a poetic peak. Lamb was in his best form with these two short stories. They are grand advetures with a somber undercurrent, full of beautiful descriptive passages. Alas, they were the last work Lamb ever wrote for Adventure magazine.
They are reprinted in the Bison collection Swords From the West.
Abdul Dost is a Mansabdar, or officer, in the army of the Mogul, one of the finest swordsmen in Hindustan and a devout Moslem. In these five tales he joins forces with an English merchant, Sir Weyand, and fights for the honor of his liege lord, Shirzad Mir. The tales are very closely interlinked, one following on the heels of the next, culminating in the novel-length "Ameer of the Sea." They begin with the meeting of Abdul Dost and Sir Weyand, who team up to free Shirzad Mir from the dungeons of Jani Beg, an Uzbek lord. By the end of the cycle the three have regained the lands of Shirzad Mir, restored honor to his name, and forged a valuable trade agreement between Sir Weyand's home, England, and Jahangir, Mogul of India. Fine, swashbuckling tales, ranking up there in enjoyment with the Khlit stories.
Abdul Dost later teams up with Khlit the Cossack in four more stories; "Law of Fire," "The Bride of Jagannath," "The Masterpiece of Death," and "The Curved Sword."
All of these stories have now been reprinted in the Bison collection Warriors of the Steppes.
Babar is also known as Babur the Tiger, the first Mogul of India. Lamb later wrote a biography of Babur. The Mogul kept a very detailed journal of his life that's supposed to be entertaining reading. In it Babur apparently recorded both successes and failures fairly honestly. These two novellas are closely based around these memoirs--Lamb gives Babur joint credit for the composition of them. Because they deal with the entire span of a man's life, these novellas are broad and scope and not as riveting as Lamb's usual fiction, but they are nonetheless fascinating, especially as the events described really happened. If Lamb had invented some of the coincidences that befell Babur it would read like amateurish plot contrivance. Babar was not only shrewd--he was very lucky!
Both of the Babar stories will be printed in the Bison collection Swords From the East.
These three novellas feature an Arab warrior turned physician and his journeys through India. Of the three, "Light of the Palace" was a real standout, but they are all enjoyable. "The Guest of Karadak" deals with a matter of honor between a visiting Prince and some ancient enemies, "The Road to Kandahar" with a city threatened by rebels, and "Light of the Palace" with one of Lamb's favorite subjects, Nur Mahal.
All three stories are reprinted in the Bison collection Swords From the Desert.
Did you know that John Paul Jones became a Russian Admiral after his service in the Colonial Navy? I didn't. Lamb fictionalized Jones' experience in the Russian navy in these two stories, "Forward," a novella, and "The Sword of Honor," a novel. "Forward" concerns itself with Jones' arrival in Russia and the machinations of the Russian aristocracy to keep him from command. It's full of non-stop action, but leaves less time for the characters than is usual with Lamb.
"The Sword of Honor" concerns Jones' escapades against the Turks despite the incompetence of the Russian commanding officers, who are plotting to gain favor in court rather than win the war. As with "Forward," the characterization wasn't as strong as Lamb at his best, but there are a number of nice moments, and it is absolutely action packed.
Both novellas will be reprinted in the Bison collection Swords From the Sea.