The Hyena: REH Story Of The Month
Posted 02 May 2007 - 02:38 PM
Source: Shadow Kingdoms- The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard: Volume 1
First Publication: Weird Tales, 1928
Top of the month to you all! Yep, I actually read this one ahead of time; been slack recently but I think the uphill climb of late is starting to plateau. Next month "Sea Curse" is up to bat, and-- if you're reading from the above named source-- we'll get through this book in October.
WARNING: THIS THREAD WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS!
"From the time when I first saw Senecoza, the fetish-man, I distrusted him, and from vague distrust the idea eventually grew into hatred."
"When Robert returned to Cross Plains after Christmas [in 1924], he found another letter waiting for him from Farnsworth Wright. Weird Tales had bought another of his stories, "The Hyena," for twenty-five dollars."
--Mark Finn, Blood & Thunder (pg. 91)
Apparently, though, this story did not see print until 1928, and payment was only upon publication, so poor Bob had to wait three years to see his twenty-five bucks.
I enjoyed "The Hyena." It had a lot of similarities with "Wolfhead;" a fellow loafing at his cousin's ranch in Africa, a poor little African boy who gets kicked around by him, and a lycanthrope.
Steve, our hero from Virginia, is staying with his "tenth cousin or such", Ludvik Strolvaus on his trading post ranch. He's not fond of the creepy local fetish-man, Senecoza, and neither is much of anyone else with half a brain. Sadly though, brains don't run in Steve's family, as both Ludvik and his recently arrived other cousin Ellen Farel think the native is the cat's meow (but, as we'll discover, he's really the hyena's howl). It kinda all comes to an action-filled head when Steve and Ellen, now goo goo over each other (did I use the word creepy yet?) accidentally wander up on Senecoza's voodoo hut, along with his band of warriors. They get ahold of Steve, but Senecoza has to go chasing after Ellen. Steve learns of the fetish man's plot to run all the settlers out of town and, once he's defeated his guard, rushes off to warn the ranchers and get himself a gun. He gets back to the hut in time to run into Senecoza, who now has captured ellen. They play a little cat-and-mouse game in the tall grass as ellen rides off to get help. Earlier in the Story, Steve had to fight off a hyena in the night, and now here it is again, lunging after him. With his last bullet, Steve guns down the dog just as his rescuers arrive. They find the hyena missing, but follow its tracks to the hut, only to find Senecoza inside, dead from a bullet wound.
All in all an enjoyable story. In setting things up, the start is a bit slow, but once the action starts, it's the fast-paced Howard we all know and love. It's really interesting reading the stories in this order because it makes it seem more like Howard is making slow transitions rather than leaping about. I know, however, that while the stories in this volume are printed in order of publication, they are not in order of when they were written.
So, getting back to the cousin-love thing. Exactly how distant does one have to be before it's no longer taboo? Was this more acceptable in Howard's day?
So there's my two-bits. Eight out of 10.
Posted 03 May 2007 - 11:38 PM
Posted 04 May 2007 - 12:21 AM
For fans of "The Hyena", I should mention that REH actually began a sort of sequel to the story, featuring the same hero and mentioning Senecoza. This fragment, tentatively titled "The Slayer" by Glenn Lord, will be included in "The Last of the Trunk", the book collecting the immense majority of as-yet-unpublished Howard fiction, forthcoming from the Robert E. Howard Foundation.
Very cool! Thanks, Patrice.
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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:46 AM
Posted 04 June 2008 - 05:13 PM
Posted 04 December 2009 - 08:27 PM
Posted 18 March 2012 - 10:15 PM
I want to do a fan-fiction fan art version of this.
Senocoza one of REH's best villains.
The African setting. You can almost feel the heat of the Savanna and the blood lust of all involved.
Posted 19 March 2012 - 01:08 AM
Posted 21 March 2012 - 06:22 PM
Its in fact true that were-hyenas(and also were-lions) are a part of African legend and folklore, playing the role the wolf did in Europe. Peter Hathaway Capstick has some very interesting accounts of it in his books of African hunting and wildlife.
He relates a story in his book Death in the Long Grass about how white hunter Bror von Blixen( of "Out of Africa" fame) alledgely shot a marauding hyena- and no dead animal was found, but a witch doctor dead from bullet wounds.