Jump to content


Photo

"Marchers of Valhalla": REH "SotM" For February


  • Please log in to reply
93 replies to this topic

#1 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 12 February 2008 - 08:42 AM

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Marchers of Valhalla from The Black Stranger and Other American Tales (Bison Books)

"Once these sullen hills were beaches and they saw the ocean flee
In the misty ages never known of men,
And they wait in brooding silence till the everlasting sea
Comes foaming forth to claim her own again."


-- from "The Grim Land", by Robert E. Howard

In April of 1932, Robert E. Howard wrote to HP Lovecraft that, "now I'm working on a mythical period of prehistory when what is now the state of Texas was a great plateau, stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the sea -- before the country south of the Cap-rock broke down to form the sloping steppes which now constitute the region." The yarn Howard was working on was Marchers of Valhalla. In late May, 1932, REH wrote to HPL and informed him that "(Farnsworth) Wright [editor of Weird Tales] rejected the antediluvian Texas story, not enough weirdness about it." blink.gif My mind boggles. Nordics assaulting/defending a time-lost city in "antediluvian Texas", a "living goddess" in chains and the entire Lone Star State getting dumped into the drink wasn't "enough weirdness" for Wright!?!

Be that as it may (and I have my own unproveable theories as to why ol' Pharnabazus didn't jump at it), Howard didn't sell it and he moved on to writing other "James Allison" yarns. Since "Marchers" didn't sell, Howard used the name "Niord" again for the hero of The Valley of the Worm. When Glenn Lord readied the manuscript of "MoV" for its initial publication in 1972, he took the name "Hialmar" from Allison's list of former incarnations and redubbed the protagonist of "Marchers". On the whole, a good call on Glenn's part, IMO. Still, despite the fact that both Niords DIE at the end of their respective tales, there are some who believe that they are one and the same. :rolleyes: The Tompkins-edited version from Bison Books retains "Hialmar" and it's the name I'm gonna use, at any rate.

One could simply dismiss "Marchers" as over-the-top, blood-soaked "pulp" fantasy. Can't you just see the headline in The Post-Hyborian Post™:"AEsir 'Biker Gang' Destroys Ancient Civilization" (story on page 2)? Marchers of Valhalla is much more than that. In his excellent introduction to the "Black Stranger" collection, Steve Tompkins writes:

"If we read the AEsir as sword-and-sorcery simplifications of Texans at their deadliest and most driven, and the treacherous Khemuri as a combination of Aztec trappings and Mexican failings as seen unfairly through Texan eyes, we begin to realize that "Marchers of Valhalla" is a creation myth fit for a state that has spawned more mythology than some entire continents, a creation myth that, as is only to be expected with Howard, culminates in cataclysmic destruction."

In his essay, "North by Southwest: Or, the Yellow Rose of Valhalla", Tompkins compares Hialmar's AEsir in "Marchers" to Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch and Cormac MacCarthy's Glanton gang (Blood Meridian). They're definitely on the same continuum: "Gringos" cuttin' loose down in Ol' Me-hi-koh. Ironhand once mentioned that tribal societies tend to count any outside their group ("The People") as "non-people". All human societies operate this way, to a certain extent. When the Hutu brought a deathly silence to Butare, when Chivington's militia rode down the women and children of Sand Creek, when Cromwell's "Roundheads" did their "duty" at Drogheda, when Police Battalion 101 did the same at Josefow; the same principle was in action. All were operating in an "amoral space" where the "normal" rules/customs/laws of their "tribes" didn't apply. The amoral space that Hialmar's horde chose for itself was the entire world. Hialmar was a "child soldier", originally. He grew up amongst the blood and plunder. Allison says that "in those savage times" (...) "wolf pack tore wolf pack". One has to wonder whether the women and children of the cities Hialmar's AEsir overran considered themselves part of a "wolf pack".

I think that "Marchers" is one of Howard's great fantasy yarns for many reasons, but one special reason it stands out to me is how (IMO) Bob lays bare his soul in the introduction to the yarn. In his guise as "James Allison" (probably of "Lost Knob/Plains"), REH pours out his feelings in this tale. Allison speaks of how "the agonizing melancholy of that drab land lay hard upon me," and of the "dreary expanse of sand drifts and post-oak thickets". Allison says that he wishes he were dead, "not so much as a bid for sympathy, but the despairing cry of a soul tortured beyond endurance." Allison cries savagely, "Don't give me a speech about resignation and cheerfulness! If I had the power I'd strangle every damned blatant optimist in the world! (...) "There has not even been any beauty in my life, lying as it has in this forsaken and desolate wilderness." (...) "I could have loved life and lived deeply as a cowboy, even here, before the squatters turned the country from an open range to a drift of straggling farms. I could have lived deep as a buffalo hunter, an Indian fighter, or an explorer, even here. But I was born out of my time, and even the exploits of this weary age were denied me. It's bitter beyond human telling to sit chained and helpless, and feel the hot blood drying in my veins, and the glittering dreams fading in my brain. I come of a restless, roving, fighting race."

The reader can just feel REH speaking through James Allison. Howard often stated as how he felt that he was "born too late". He definitely wasn't one for "blatant optimists". Despite him having two good legs, I'd say that Bob felt "chained and helpless" from time to time. Allison escaped his bondage by reliving past lives. REH broke his chains with the power of his imagination.

Here's the link to Tompkins' essay:
http://www.robert-e-...nsGNN2ws01.html

Here's the link for an insightful (yet irreverent) review from Dr. Hermes (which includes all three "James Allison" yarns):
http://community-2.w...ison/index.html

Y'all feel free to comment on the story. smile.gif


Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#2 Fernando

Fernando

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,399 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Zamboula

Posted 12 February 2008 - 03:55 PM

Hi, deuce!

I always had a great doubt about Aluna and the place from where she came. She is mentioned as an Aesir - and has the same accent and blond hair and blue eyes of them. But she says to Hialmar she lived in western shores before she was captured and carried to Khemu. The place where Aluna says she was born seems Vanaheim, not Asgard. What were Aesirs doing there?

#3 elegos7

elegos7

    Warrior

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 144 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hungary

Posted 12 February 2008 - 11:21 PM

What I find most interesting in this story is the goddess Ishtar. She was the daughter of a Lemurian king, granted immortality by Poseidon. After the deluge she dwelt on an unnamed place among a strange and kindly race. Then she went on a galley from distant Khitai, and her ship sank near Khemu, in today's Texas.
What could have been this unnamed place? I first thought of Khitai, where her ship sailed from, but REH's wording is a bit confusing.
The question is, how could Ishtar have become the goddess of Shemites in the Hyborian Age (she is mentioned in several Conan stories)? The Shemites apparently could not have heard about her, unless they went to Khitai (or that unnamed place). ?Marchers of Valhalla? states that after the destruction of Khemu she became the goddess of many people that we know from actual history. So I think Howard made a small oversight here, unless he thought this unnamed place to be Shem (but in that case he should have mentioned it, he has already written a few Conan stories by this time).

#4 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 13 February 2008 - 12:32 AM

Hi, deuce!

I always had a great doubt about Aluna and the place from where she came. She is mentioned as an Aesir - and has the same accent and blond hair and blue eyes of them. But she says to Hialmar she lived in western shores before she was captured and carried to Khemu. The place where Aluna says she was born seems Vanaheim, not Asgard. What were Aesirs doing there?


Hey Fernando! I'm going to address the issue in my notations. Short answer(s): either some AEsir had begun moving west OR there is a DEEP indentation of the vague upper shoreline which reaches into AEsir territory. Maybe a combination of both.

Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#5 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 13 February 2008 - 12:39 AM

What I find most interesting in this story is the goddess Ishtar. She was the daughter of a Lemurian king, granted immortality by Poseidon. After the deluge she dwelt on an unnamed place among a strange and kindly race. Then she went on a galley from distant Khitai, and her ship sank near Khemu, in today's Texas.
What could have been this unnamed place? I first thought of Khitai, where her ship sailed from, but REH's wording is a bit confusing.
The question is, how could Ishtar have become the goddess of Shemites in the Hyborian Age (she is mentioned in several Conan stories)? The Shemites apparently could not have heard about her, unless they went to Khitai (or that unnamed place). "Marchers of Valhalla" states that after the destruction of Khemu she became the goddess of many people that we know from actual history. So I think Howard made a small oversight here, unless he thought this unnamed place to be Shem (but in that case he should have mentioned it, he has already written a few Conan stories by this time).


Hey elegos! This is another point that I will address in my notations. Short answer: She was very likely held in awe by some of the Lemurians enslaved by the "Khari". When the "Khari" fled west to Stygia, some of their slaves took "Ishtar-worship" to Stygia, where it was passed on to the Shemites.

Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#6 Fernando

Fernando

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,399 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Zamboula

Posted 13 February 2008 - 12:53 AM

Hey elegos! This is another point that I will address in my notations. Short answer: She was very likely held in awe by some of the Lemurians enslaved by the "Khari". When the "Khari" fled west to Stygia, some of their slaves took "Ishtar-worship" to Stygia, where it was passed on to the Shemites.


Very well said, deuce! :D I always enjoy your answers and the Darkstorm's ones. So, I'd like to know: what do you think about my doubt on the Inland Sea, posted in the thread "The Valley of the Worm"?

Edited by Fernando, 13 February 2008 - 01:00 AM.


#7 Guest_xssurdinynexes_*

Guest_xssurdinynexes_*
  • Guests

Posted 13 February 2008 - 08:18 AM

Marchers is one of the very bests Howard tales out there............the same night I read it I also read the Grey God Passes.......those stories just blew me away and I had never heard of either up until that time

#8 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 13 February 2008 - 08:03 PM

Marchers is one of the very bests Howard tales out there............the same night I read it I also read the Grey God Passes.......those stories just blew me away and I had never heard of either up until that time


Hey XS! I had the same experience. I bought a copy of Marchers of Valhalla (Berkley) in the grocery store and read both yarns that night. Blew me away, too. BTW, "TGGP" will be the April "SotM". :)

Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#9 PaulMc

PaulMc

    Sword of Crom

  • Moderators
  • 2,074 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Vinland

Posted 13 February 2008 - 09:33 PM

"Marchers of Valhalla" is the story that got me started on Robert E. Howard. Yes, I read the Baen collection, Eons of the Night before I read Conan or any of the other heroes. (Though, I had read some of Howard's horror tales earlier.)

I've always been fascinated by the Viking experience in North America - the story was right up my alley.

The rest is REH-Fanboy history. :lol:

-- Paul McNamee

My Blog


#10 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 13 February 2008 - 09:41 PM

"Marchers of Valhalla" is the story that got me started on Robert E. Howard. Yes, I read the Baen collection, Eons of the Night before I read Conan or any of the other heroes. (Though, I had read some of Howard's horror tales earlier.)

I've always been fascinated by the Viking experience in North America - the story was right up my alley.

The rest is REH-Fanboy history. :lol:


Hey Paul! "Eons" (edited by SM Stirling) is one of the great REH collections, IMO. The entire run of Baen (RIP, Jim) REH collections doesn't get the love it deserves.
BTW, did you check out the Steve Tompkins essay?

Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#11 elegos7

elegos7

    Warrior

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 144 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hungary

Posted 14 February 2008 - 10:28 AM

How could Ishtar have become the goddess of Shemites in the Hyborian Age (she is mentioned in several Conan stories)? The Shemites apparently could not have heard about her, unless they went to Khitai (or that unnamed place). "Marchers of Valhalla" states that after the destruction of Khemu she became the goddess of many people that we know from actual history. So I think Howard made a small oversight here, unless he thought this unnamed place to be Shem (but in that case he should have mentioned it, he has already written a few Conan stories by this time).


Hey elegos! This is another point that I will address in my notations. Short answer: She was very likely held in awe by some of the Lemurians enslaved by the "Khari". When the "Khari" fled west to Stygia, some of their slaves took "Ishtar-worship" to Stygia, where it was passed on to the Shemites.


Thanks deuce, I have not thought that the eastern people might have brought Ishtar worship to the west. It is also possible that those Lemurians who established colonies in the west (Xuthal and proto-Gazal) took Ishtar worship to the western countries. But it is a bit strange that these Lemurians in the west worshipped demon-gods in their temple (like Thog and Ollam-Onga in those two cities, perhaps as a result of their contact with the demonic gods of Mu), while Ishtar is not known to have demonic attributes.

#12 Fernando

Fernando

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,399 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Zamboula

Posted 14 February 2008 - 06:55 PM

Thanks deuce, I have not thought that the eastern people might have brought Ishtar worship to the west. It is also possible that those Lemurians who established colonies in the west (Xuthal and proto-Gazal) took Ishtar worship to the western countries. But it is a bit strange that these Lemurians in the west worshipped demon-gods in their temple (like Thog and Ollam-Onga in those two cities, perhaps as a result of their contact with the demonic gods of Mu), while Ishtar is not known to have demonic attributes.


Hey, elegos7! :)

It's a good question. I believe some Lemurians worshipped Ollam-Onga and Thog, but Gazal and Xuthal were lost cities, so that the Lemurians of those two places weren't the bulk of that people. I think that most of the Lemurians kept worshipping Ishtar till they had contact with the Sons of Shem, that absorbed their religion. Then, centuries after, the bulk of the Lemurians - I don't know why - changed their Ishtar's religion into Tarim/Erlik worshipping. Hope that helps.

Regards,

Fernando.

#13 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 14 February 2008 - 11:31 PM

Thanks deuce, I have not thought that the eastern people might have brought Ishtar worship to the west. It is also possible that those Lemurians who established colonies in the west (Xuthal and proto-Gazal) took Ishtar worship to the western countries. But it is a bit strange that these Lemurians in the west worshipped demon-gods in their temple (like Thog and Ollam-Onga in those two cities, perhaps as a result of their contact with the demonic gods of Mu), while Ishtar is not known to have demonic attributes.


It's a good question. I believe some Lemurians worshipped Ollam-Onga and Thog, but Gazal and Xuthal were lost cities, so that the Lemurians of those two places weren't the bulk of that people. I think that most of the Lemurians kept worshipping Ishtar till they had contact with the Sons of Shem, that absorbed their religion. Then, centuries after, the bulk of the Lemurians - I don't know why - changed their Ishtar's religion into Tarim/Erlik worshipping. Hope that helps.
Fernando.


Hey Fernando, Elegos! Primus, we don't know for sure that Kosala was in fact a Lemurian colony, as opposed to a Muvian colony (just maybe, neither). Definitely possible, but not a done deal. Secundus, "demon-gods" don't seem to be a big part of Muvian religion outside of Xultha/Xulthas/Xulthar. Poseidon appears to have ruled the roost until late Muvian times.

I won't try to speculate as to the extent of "Ishtar-worhip" amongst the Lemurians enslaved to the "Khari". I personally feel that it is a "fact" (as far as can be ascertained), but there is no way of knowing the prevalence of the "Ishtar cult". I'm trying not to totally "pre-capitulate" my "annotations" post, but here are some thoughts...

Historically, East Asia has absorbed several religions and transmuted them to "its" own spiritual needs. Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam were all absorbed and transformed, to one extent or another. Buddhism itself is relatively unknown in its homeland, India (just as Christianity is scarce in the Levant). There are several Chinese goddesses that appear to be distant echoes of the Lemurian/Muvian "Ishtar" of the "Marchers" yarn. One is Hsi Wang Mu, the goddess of immortality. Another is Chuang Mu, the goddess of the boudoir and of sexual delights. Finally, there is Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion. One of her aspects is Tara.

Here's a link: http://www.exoticind...rticle/kuanyin/

Tara was born from divine tears which became pearls (associated with the sea).
The Japanese goddess, Amaterasu, had a brother, Susano-o, who was associated with the sea and violent storms.
Food for thought. :)

I have a feeling that the ring-leaders of the Lemurian revolt weren't worried about "compassion". We also don't know that Tarim or Erlik were ever worshipped in Khitai. All evidence from Howard's yarns suggests that those gods were strictly Hyrkanian. I feel that "Ishtar-worship" (as it evolved there) had a lasting influence in Khitai/the East, but she was never dominant.

Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#14 Fernando

Fernando

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,399 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Zamboula

Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:18 AM

We also don't know that Tarim or Erlik were ever worshipped in Khitai. All evidence from Howard's yarns suggests that those gods were strictly Hyrkanian.


Hey deuce! :)

I think I wasn't clear enough... :( When I said "Then, centuries after, the bulk of the Lemurians (...) changed their Ishtar's religion into Tarim/Erlik worshipping", I spoke about the Hyrkanians descendants of the Lemurians, not of Khitai's people - who were also descendant of Lemurians.

#15 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:26 AM

We also don't know that Tarim or Erlik were ever worshipped in Khitai. All evidence from Howard's yarns suggests that those gods were strictly Hyrkanian.


Hey deuce! :)

I think I wasn't clear enough... :( When I said "Then, centuries after, the bulk of the Lemurians (...) changed their Ishtar's religion into Tarim/Erlik worshipping", I spoke about the Hyrkanians descendants of the Lemurians, not of Khitai's people - who were also descendant of Lemurians.


Hey Fernando! No big deal, I just thought I'd point that out. :) I'm not ruling out some Erlik-worship amongst the Khitans. BTW, in various yarns (most of them "non-Conan") REH seems to say that Erlik/Malik Tous/Ahriman/Set are essentially one and the same.

Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#16 Fernando

Fernando

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,399 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Zamboula

Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:38 AM

BTW, in various yarns (most of them "non-Conan") REH seems to say that Erlik/Malik Tous/Ahriman/Set are essentially one and the same.


Interesting coment!! :D I didn't know it! I'll search, translate and read these yarns... if you list them to me. ;)

#17 Guest_xssurdinynexes_*

Guest_xssurdinynexes_*
  • Guests

Posted 15 February 2008 - 06:53 AM

in shadow of the hun the Tartars spoke of Erlik...........Tartars are oriental...mongols...closely related to the chinese....I think.........not sure though

#18 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,141 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:28 PM

BTW, in various yarns (most of them "non-Conan") REH seems to say that Erlik/Malik Tous/Ahriman/Set are essentially one and the same.


Interesting coment!! :D I didn't know it! I'll search, translate and read these yarns... if you list them to me. ;)


Dig Me No Grave (John Grimlan's Debt) is an excellent example.

Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#19 Fernando

Fernando

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,399 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Zamboula

Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:38 PM

in shadow of the hun the Tartars spoke of Erlik...........Tartars are oriental...mongols...closely related to the chinese....I think.........not sure though


You're 100% sure in all your comments, X. Thank you! :)

#20 Fernando

Fernando

    WarLord

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,399 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Zamboula

Posted 15 February 2008 - 07:40 PM

Dig Me No Grave (John Grimlan's Debt) is an excellent example.


Thank you, too, deuce! :) I'll search this tale in the Net.