Thursday 31 May 2012

Annotated bibliography of Harold Lamb’s Cossack stories – part 4

Harold Lamb wrote more than forty stories of the Cossack adventurers. Luckily for us, all his stories are back in print, thanks to the efforts of Howard Andrew Jones.

In this bibliography, I want to give a flavor of the stories, the exotic locales and the different people that Khlit and others meet on their adventures, but still keep enough unknown that you’ll want to read them. Let me know if you like this. This is the last post of a four post series.

Swords of the Steppes: The Complete Cossack Adventures, Volume Four

Story Title
The Wolf Master
Khlit, Kirdy and Ayub are riding towards the Zaporogian siech of the Cossacks, where Khlit hopes to present Kirdy to  the Cossacks. They reach a village five miles from where the Cossacks have gone to war, and their horses are exhausted. They cannot find replacements, and encounter Cossacks retreating from the battlefield. The dying commander of the Cossacks makes Khlit swear that the Cossack dead must be avenged on the Cossack traitor, Dmitri the claimant of the Russian throne, before passing the baton of command to Khlit. Kirdy against the Tsar of all the Russias…
The Outrider
Ayub is without his companions. Khlit has disappeared after Kirdy left on his quest for revenge. Ayub has lost his horse and his sword, and grown older, yet he still seeks adventure. He finds that Polish ambassadors have come to the village, on their way to the court of the Khan of the Krim Tatars, to seek an alliance against the Turks. The military leader of the party, Colonel Duncan Stuart, engages Ayub as a guide. Will the party succeed in their mission?
A detachment of Cossacks is going out to build an advance post at the river. They run across Koum, an aging Cossack, who warns them of the Turkomans of the White Clan who raid the area. The Turkoman attack…
Over the River
A Russian count and his wife on their way to Uralskaia, a frontier post, get separated from their escort, lost in the steppe and come to Koum’s hut. The countess asks him to escort them, but he hears a brother Cossack in distress nearby signaling for help. He leaves them in his home, and goes to rescue the other Cossack, Gurka, who has been captured by the Turkomans …
The Post in the Steppe
Gurka is waiting for Koum to reappear. Koum has disappeared on one of his regular breaks from the town into the steppe, where he feels more at home. General Lermontof, the Russian commander of the area,  wants them to go and man the frontier outpost at Kurgan and make the area safe for the trade caravans. He does not expect them to succeed and thinks that he is getting rid of them. Two men against the Russian general and the Turkomans…
The Devil’s Song
Stenka Razin and his pirate band of Cossacks are sailing down the Volga to raid the town of Gorod. He runs across the blind girl, Nada, and her goat Omelko who wants to reach Gorod to be with her lover Petr Noga. As he leaves the girl in town, the Russians try to capture Stenka. At the same time, the Tatars, led by Mirak Khan, the Kalmuk, attack. Caught between two enemies, will the Cossacks live?
Mark of Astrakhan
Barbakosta, the Cossack stag hunter, finds a cold wet man on the near the Caspian sea, at the edge of the steppe, and gives him shelter. Mark, waiting for Barbakosta to return from the hunt, is set upon by four Nogai Tatars who have come to steal from the hunter. Mark kills two of them, the other two flee, and a blood feud is started. The two friends leave for Astrakhan. Stenka Razin is about to raid Astrakhan, and Mark volunteers to service in its defence. Who wins and who lives?
Red Hands
Charny the Cossack rides from town on a stolen horse after a night of drinking. He’s pursued by a soldier of the Zarit stanitza, Vash, a former Cossack. Charny and Vash fight, and Charny manages to beat Vash. They decide to go away from Zarit together, and look for someplace else to stay. While looking for food and drink, they run across a band of river pirates and barely escape unhurt. They try to warn a ship of the river pirates waiting further down, but the Russian officers on the ship suspect that they are hand in hand with the pirates, and arrests them….
Witch Woman
Sergei Stroganoff, the lord of the manor Chusavaya, stays there with the girl Ivga for company. Sergei is gentle and prefers reading books to hunting or trading.  Ivga likes to be read to by Sergei. Timofeimitch Irmak, an outlaw, comes with his band to the manor and takes it over without a fight. Irmak tries to take Ivga as well. Will the worm turn at last?
Chilogir the Tatar encounters Borasun the Cossack, and they fight. Borasun routs Chilogir, who falls in the river and is pulled down by the weight of his armour. Borasun, on an impulse, saves Chilogir’s life. Chilogir takes him home and gives him two reindeer to pull him across the frozen steppe, and a token of safety to protect him from Tatar raiders and calls upon the gods to take the reindeer to his daughter, Chi-li, who has been kidnapped by a Cossack regiment. Borasun takes the reindeer team and heads to Tabagatai, where his regiment has gone. Will Chi-li escape being sold to the Turks?
The Vampire of Khor
Demid the Cossack, hungry and thirsty, rides into Gorod looking for food and drink. Ostap the sergeant is looking for a man to ride to Khor, a farm near Gorod that is reputedly haunted by a vampire. Demid offers to go in exchange for a jug of brandy, and Ostap takes him to his commanding officer, the starosta Mikhail. Mikhail offers Demid forty silver coins if he can find evidence of thievery or murder at Khor. Demid rides to Khor, and finds the vampire…
Singing Girl
Arky and Kalyan, two Cossacks, are hunting for two missing Muscovite merchants who had been seen on the trail, but not reached their destination, Sarai. They find the merchants’ sledge, abandoned, and track the merchants till a wood, where they find the tracks of giant wolf behind the merchants’ tracks. They find a house in the wood, where the girl Sana and Sergey Okol live. Sergey warns the Cossacks of the legend of the monster of the wood, and says that even the Kalmuk Tatars avoid the wood because of the monster. Staying in the house for the night, the Cossacks come to suspect that Sergey Okol must be a werewolf. They come out of their room to find Sergey missing from the house, and a wolf is howling outside…
The Moon of Shawwul
Kirdyaga, the Cossack colonel, has been captured by the Turks and will die unless a ransom of three thousand gold sequins is paid in Constantinople by the first night of the moon  of Shawwul. Charnomar the Cossack, is requested by the Cossack colonel to deliver the ransom. He agrees and enters Stamboul disguised as a Circassian mountain man, and immediately gets into a fight with a couple of Turkish Janissaries. Running away from them, he finds refuge for the night with a bayadere, a dancing girl, who takes him for a fellow Circassian. Charnomar is on the run, a hunted man in an foreign city, and cannot ask anyone for help – how will he complete his mission?
Cossack Wolf
Yarak the Cossack has promised his grandson Kirdy, the guerilla, that he will watch over the girl Ileana, while Kirdy has to stay away from the town. The Germans come into the town and capture Kirdy, and Yarak must free him…
The Stone Woman
Yarak is heading towards the Dneiper river on foot, lacking a horse. He is looking for a drink in a ruined village when a German armored patrol car unit comes into the village and captures him. He warns them of the stone women who haunt the area…
City Under the Sea
Yarak has taken Betty, a British nurse, down to the sea, where she wanted to go. He reaches the sea to find that Germans are patrolling the area, and does not know what to do with her. He finds another foreigner, Jan, and hands her over to him. When a German submarine comes ashore, will they be caught?
The Two Swords of Genghis Khan
Yarak tries to sell an old yataghan sword to American soldiers. The Americans are lost and trying to find a route to the nearest airfield, Luntai, where they were headed before their plane had to make an emergency landing. Yarak knows nothing of Luntai, but sees that the Americans have liquor. He offers to guide the Americans across the mountains…
The Phantom Caravan
Yarak has come to Samarkand, looking for drink and comrades. He finds the girl Praska in the old city, who suggests that he exchange his goods for money in the new city. Yarak goes to the new city and is forced to exchange his goods for worthless Syrian paper money instead of the gold he wants.  Having lost everything, he goes back to Praska to berate her. Praska’s boyfriend, Michael, has just been invalided home from the army. They find the museum has been looted, by the same traders that cheated Yarak, and Praska goads Michael to get the museum pieces back…
Wolf-Hounds of the Steppe
Paul Ostalim, the Cossack blacksmith, shoes a horse for the carriage of Mirovna Cherevaty, the ataman’s daughter, but not before Stepan Vertivitch, her companion, has picked a quarrel with Paul. Mirovna invites Paul to her father’s home for a feast the same night. Paul goes there and offers to join the ataman’s kuren, but is rejected, in no small part due to Stepan’s intervention. Another Cossack, Rashov, leaves the kuren and becomes Paul’s friend and comrade as Paul leaves to join another kuren.
The Tatars plan to attack the villages near the siech, lure the Cossacks out, and rob the Cossacks’ buried war treasure. Paul learns this from a Cossack slave of the Tatars that he rescues on the way, and he hurries to tell the siech of the Tatars’ plans. He is disbelieved, and the ataman orders him arrested. Things aren’t going well for Paul – how will he show his mettle to the Cossacks, save the treasure of the Cossacks, win the hand of Mirovna and show up the arrogant Stepan?

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Annotated bibliography of Harold Lamb’s Cossack stories – part 3

Harold Lamb wrote more than forty stories of the Cossack adventurers. Luckily for us, all his stories are back in print, thanks to the efforts of Howard Andrew Jones.

In this bibliography, I want to give a flavor of the stories, the exotic locales and the different people that Khlit and others meet on their adventures, but still keep enough unknown that you’ll want to read them. Let me know if you like this. This is the third post of a four post series.

Riders of the Steppes: The Complete Cossack Adventures, Volume Three

Story Title
The Lion Cub
Ayub the Cossack comes into town for a drink, and stays because he likes the inn-keeper’s daughter. Sayanski, the landowner, covets Ayub’s stallion and awaits the return of his cousin, the army officer, when he can use force to grab the stallion from the Cossack. What will Ayub do?

The Baiting of the Warriors
Ayub the Cossack has been left behind by his comrades to rid himself of his fever and fetch a hundred ponies. The ponies are to be used in the hunt for Gerai Khan, the Tatar, who is raiding the province. He runs into Demid, a Don Cossack. Together, they try to get the horses from the baryshina of Nitek, the lady Yaris Lementof. Yaris rejects the request, and when the Khan attacked, all seems lost…or is it?
The King Dies
Demid reaches the Zaporogian siech of the Cossacks, expecting to find his friend Ayub there and be welcomed by the Cossacks. He does find Ayub, tied to a spear, awaiting execution for the theft of four hundred gold coins. Ayub, being drunk at the time the theft took place, does not remember if he took the coins or not. How will Demid, friendless in the siech, help Ayub get out of this muddle?
Men from Below
Rurik, the Koshevoi Ataman, chief of the Zaporogian war siech of the Cossacks, desperately needs gunpowder for his army. The last shipment of gunpowder was stolen from them by the river pirates. The Ataman sends Ayub and Demid on a mission to recover the gunpowder before the Turks learn of the gunpowder shortage and attack.
The Witch of Aleppo
The Turks have captured Rurik, the Ataman of the Cossack siech, and are demanding a ransom of ten thousand gold coins for his release. Demid sets off to get the money, and encounters Michael Rohan, an Irish adventurer, on the way. They fight and become comrades, and head to Aleppo, the gateway to the Levant to find the ten thousand dollar ransom. To get to Aleppo, they capture a Turkish galley, and find in it a woman of the Sultan’s harem, and a message to the pasha of Aleppo. To Ayub, the woman is a witch and she brings misfortune to the company…can Ayub and Demid win the ransom and free Rurik?
Ayub goes on a drunken revel, and finds himself separated from his comrades. He comes to his senses to realize that he is near the border with the Tatars, and finds a Russian prince encamped nearby. Vladimir, the Russian prince has likewise lost his way, and come too close to the border for safety, but will not admit he’s wrong. He seizes Ayub’s stallion and has him thrown out. Kirdy, Khlit’s grandson, becomes Ayub’s friend. Gerai Khan, the Tatar chief, raids the nearby village and takes Galka, the woman Kirdy loves and that Prince Vladimir wants to possess, captive. Three men against the Tatar and the Russian forces…
White Falcon
Ayub, Khlit and Kirdy go to Moscow to ransom captive Cossacks. They find Demid, the falcon of the Cossacks, and his men who are waiting to be executed by the order of the Tsar, Boris Godunov. Khlit realizes that the Tsar will not spare them, and offers the Tsar to take the Cossacks and return with the loot of the Turkoman city of Urgench, or perish in the attempt. Boris Godunov agrees to the expedition, and the Cossacks leave Moscow. Will they redeem their honor? Will any of the company come back with the treasure? Great battle scenes in this novel.
The Winged Rider
Ayub, Kirdy and Khlit head for the Zaporogian Siech from Moscow. On the way, they enter the domain of Erlik Khan, the lord of the Dead. Erlik Khan attacks them, and takes them off to his castle. Will the three Cossack brothers escape to reach the Siech? Will Kirdy learn to look into a soul and find treachery there?

Harold Lamb and Historical Romance - article by Arthur S. Hoffman

Arthur S. Hoffman wrote this article about Harold Lamb, the pioneering author of eastern historical adventure fiction, for "The Bookman", March 1930. This was after Lamb had become famous for his popular histories - Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and The Crusades.

In it, he talks about how Harold Lamb got interested in Asian history and started writing historical adventure fiction set outside Europe and America, his historical expertise and depth of original research on the topics. Link after the jump.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Annotated bibliography of Harold Lamb’s Cossack stories – part 2

Harold Lamb wrote more than forty stories of the Cossack adventurers. Luckily for us, all his stories are back in print, thanks to the efforts of Howard Andrew Jones.

In this bibliography, I want to give a flavor of the stories, the exotic locales and the different people that Khlit and others meet on their adventures, but still keep enough unknown that you’ll want to read them. Let me know if you like this. This is the second post of a four post series. 

Warriors of the Steppes: The Complete Cossack Adventures, Volume Two (v. 2)

Story Title
The Lion Cub
Rao Singh, the prince of Jhilam, has lost his kingdom after the death of his father. Jahangir, the Mughal emperor of India, gave it to Shaista Mirza, who rules with an iron fist. He runs into Khlit, who has left Jahangir’s court. Helping Rao Singh to elope with Kera of Kargan, a noble woman of Jahangir’s court, gets Khlit into trouble with Jahangir’s court. Rao Singh is caught by Shaista Mirza, and Kera of Kargan is killed by the Mirza’s men. Khlit vows revenge, but what can he, a hunted man, do to help a prisoner…
The skull of Shirzad Mir
Abdul Dost’s master, Shirzad Mir, is being held captive by Jani Beg, the Uzbek chieftain who poisoned Jahangir’s ears with false rumors of Shirzad Mir’s disloyalty. Shirzad Mir is to be executed before dawn tomorrow at Khanjut, where he is held prisoner. Fate brings Abdul Dost and Ralph Weyand, an English merchant at Jahangir’s court seeking to win trade concessions for his country, together at an encounter where Gutchluk Khan, an Uzbek warrior in Jani Beg’s pay, kills Ralph Weyand’s servant.  Ralph Weyand swears revenge and allies with Abdul Dost. Can they enter Khanjut, the citadel that has never been taken by storm, and fulfill their missions?
Said Afzel’s elephant
Shirzad Mir, Abdul Dost and Ralph Weyand need money, horses and arms to overthrow Jani Beg. Ralph Weyand suggests Akbar’s solution, “when he was pressed by great numbers of enemies, he would attack, always attack." They decide to attack Said Afzel, Jani Beg’s son, who is returning from Jahangir’s court with treasure. Said Afzel is mounted on a war elephant and escorted by a bodyguard of forty Pathans and camelmen. Three men, two swords and two horses against this company…
Prophecy of the blind
Ralph Weyand saves the child of Muhammad Asad, a blind kwajah from a herd of stampeding buffaloes. Muhammad Asad prophesises that “within the month the Ferang shall be master of Jani Beg’s stronghold.” Ralph Weyand plans to seize Khanjut, Jani Beg’s fortress, that has never been taken by storm. First though, he tackles the trading city of Balkh that controls the pass to India and through which the caravans to the east must pass. How can two men seize a city with ten thousand armed men?
Rose face
Jani Beg seeks to take Khanjut back from Shirzad Mir, who has taken it from him by a trick. He sends Krishna Taya, a Rajput courtesan, as a gift to Ralph Weyand at Khanjut, asking her to make allies of him and Sir Ralph. Abdul Dost thinks that Sir Ralph might have become a traitor, influenced by Krishna Taya. Has Jani Beg succeeded in splitting the three friends?
Ameer of the sea
Jani Beg allies himself with the Persian general, Shah Abbas, to get rid of their mutual enemy, Shirzad Mir, and perhaps take the Mughal empire as well. Jahangir the Mughal is relaxing in the gardens of Kabul, away from his army which has been subduing a rebellion in the Deccan. Jani Beg has invited him to watch the conclusion of the siege of Khanjut, and plans to capture him. How will Sir Ralph complete his mission, and save Shirzad Mir from capture and death, in a besieged fortress, starving from inadequate food?
Law of fire
It is 1609, Khlit is in Leh, where he encounters Pir Kasim, the merchant, who requests his protection on a journey to Yarkand. The merchant trades in the living dead. Abdul Dost, the warrior, runs into the merchant’s servant, Nasir Beg, and tries to buy a woman. Nasir Beg cheats him of the woman and the money and escapes. Abdul Dost vows to revenge himself on Nasir Beg, and sets off in pursuit. What are the living dead? Will Abdul Dost and Khlit fight to the death?
The bride of Jagannath
Abdul Dost and Khlit travel across India, reaching Thaneshwar, in the province of Kukushetra, just as the ruler, Rawul Matap Singh has married Retha of Rinthambur and is bringing her to his home. The priests of the temple of Jagannath are growing in power and wealth, acquiring land from devout villagers. Nagir Jan, the priest, sees Retha on the way, and goads the villagers to rebel against Matap Singh, sacking his residence and taking his wife into captivity for the service of Jagannath. Khlit and Abdul Dost have become friends of the Rawul, but what can two men do against the evil power of the temple?
The masterpiece of death
Taleb Khan, the ruler of Pawundur, sends Khlit and Abdul Dost on a mission to collect the yearly tribute to the Mughal emperor from the treasury of Ghar and bring it to him so that he can deliver it to the emperor. Three previous messengers have died or disappeared, victims of the thuggee cult of stranglers. Caught between the thuggees and the treacherous Taleb Khan, can Khlit and Abdul Dost win the day?
The curved sword
Alacha, the Turkoman, rules Badakshan, plundering mercilessly and carrying off women he likes. One of the women he steals is the beloved of Chan, the musician, who runs into Abdul Dost and Khlit and mistaking them for the Turkoman’s men, attacks them. Khlit subdues him, and Chan tells them why he was attacking. Abdul Dost rebels against Alacha and his master, the Mughal emperor Jahangir. Khlit tries to persuade Jahangir to remove Alacha from the throne of Badakshan, but fails. Having no one to turn to in a strange land, sworn to support his friend, what will Khlit do?

Saturday 26 May 2012

Annotated bibliography of Harold Lamb’s Cossack stories – part 1

Harold Lamb wrote more than forty stories of the Cossack adventurers. Luckily for us, all his stories are back in print, thanks to the efforts of Howard Andrew Jones.

In this bibliography, I want to give a flavor of the stories, the exotic locales and the different people that Khlit and others meet on their adventures, but still keep enough unknown that you’ll want to read them. Let me know if you like this. This is the first post of a four post series. After the jump...

Story Title
Khlit’s stepson is about to enter the war camp of all the Cossacks, sited on an island in the river Dneiper. Khlit bets all his wealth on the manner of his entry, claiming “The son of Menelitza will come to the siech as no other before him has come.” The rising floodwaters of the Dneiper allow no boat to cross. Will Khlit lose his bet?
Wolf’s war
Khlit has to rescue his stepson’s bride to be, Alevna, from Khan Mirai Tkha, Khlit's mortal enemy. Khlit takes the fight to the Khan, harassing the Khan and keeping out of reach, as the Khan's camp journeys across the steppe. Harassed, the Khan makes a deal with Khlit, who swears on his cross, to ride into the Khan’s camp if the Khan releases Alevna. He keeps his bargain, but things don’t work quite out the way the Khan thought they would.
Tal Taulai Khan
The Cossacks decide to retire Khlit, thinking he is too old to fight. Khlit does not take this meekly, and heads off to Tatary. He believes that the Tatars will go to war with the Cossacks, and heads towards the camp of the chief of the Black Kallmarks, Tal Taulai Khan, hoping to gain an ally for the Cossacks. He does not know that the Krim Tatar chief, enemy of the Cossacks, Mirai Khan, is already there and plotting against him. One man against an army, Khlit uses his wits and his sword to get out of this one.
Khlit enters Turkestan, looking for new adventures, and finds Berca, a Persian lady, and her escort Toctamish, the Tatar. Berca is looking for revenge on the chief of the Assassins, the Master of the Mountain, for her father’s death. Khlit agrees to kill the Assassin chief, but what can two men and one women do against a man who commands a thousand daggers from a mountain fortress?
The Mighty Manslayer
Khlit meets a merchant, Mir Turek, in Samarkand. Mir Turkek asks Khlit for his protection on a quest for the treasure of Genghis Khan, the spoils of a thousand cities, which was buried along with the Khan, in his tomb in the Gobi desert. Khlit and Mir Turek find the treasure, but are betrayed by the merchant’s slave to the Chinese general who is besieging the Tatar city of Altur Haiten. How will Khlit escape certain death?
The White Khan
After breaking the siege of Altur Haiten, Khlit finds that some of the jealous chiefs of the Tatar clans do not want to recognize him as their leader. The Chinese demand revenge for their general’s life. Khlit rides away from the Tatar clan and decides to hide with his companion, Chagan the sword bearer, in Shankiang, the city that the army commanded by the Chinese general Li Jusong is marching on. Trying to escape from Shankiang, Khlit and Chagan fall into the hands of Li Jusong, who grants Khlit his life if he betrays the Tatar khans…
Changa Nor
The Kallmarks are attacking the Tatars. The shaman, Lhon Otai, prophesises that the Tatars can only be safe if the treasure of Changa Nor is handed over to the Kallmarks. Khlit takes the Tatars to Changa Nor, but on the way he is met by Gurd the hunter, who takes him to Changa Nor, where he learns the secret of Changa Nor. Khlit, a Christian, has to choose between defending a church treasure or aiding the Tatars. At the same time, Changa Nor is attacked by the Kallmarks….
Roof of the world
The Dalai Lama sends an envoy to the Tatars, offering them help in their fight against the Kallmarks if Khlit, the Wolf, will come to the citadel of Talas, near Jallat Kum on the border of the Taklamakan desert. Khlit decides to go alone, and leaves the khans behind. Chagan, the sword bearer follows him and they reach Talas together, where they meet Shellil, a Kirghiz dancer, and Azim, a shepherd. The Dalai Lama’s messenger meets them at Talas and takes them to Kashgar, where the Kirghiz chiefs Iskander Khan and Bassangor Khan are coming. The head of the lamasery, Dongkor Gelong, is playing both ends against the middle. Caught between the lamas and the Kirghiz, in a hostile place where he is a prisoner in all but name, what will Khlit do?
The Star of Evil Omen
Khlit gives up the position of Kha Khan, the chief of the Tatar chiefs, and rides out, promising the chiefs a gift in winter. He rides to Mongolia, where the emperor of China wants to go on a hunt after visiting the tombs of his ancestors. Khlit hides his true identity and joins the hunt as a huntsman from the provinces, and finds his friend, Arslan the archer, among the company. The imperial chief eunuch Li Yuan and the Lady Li are plotting to overthrow the emperor and grab the throne. How does Khlit manage to keep his promise to the Tatar chiefs and save his life?
The Rider of the Gray Horse
Khlit rides south from China, towards India, and meets Nur Jahan, the lover of Prince Salim, the son of Akbar, the emperor of India. Nur Jahan is running away from Akbar’s death warrant, signed when the emperor thought that she had too much influence on the prince. The priests of Bon are hunting for Nur Jahan to slay her. When Khlit and Nur Jahan reach Khoten, the priests have them in their power. The only way out is to offer themselves as human sacrifices, committing suicide by going into the mountains without any food, supplies, transport or weapons…

To be continued...