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The Elder Race (according to Robert E. Howard)


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#1 EJA

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:15 PM

Mentions and appearances of members of the Elder Race occur in two Kull stories, Riders Beyond the Sunrise and The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune. They appear human, but are they? In the first story mentioned above, a member of the Elder Race strongly implies that his people existed before the Serpent Men, which are established to have predated the Thurian civilisation in The Shadow Kingdom. Does anyone have any theories on their origins?

#2 BasilBJr

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 06:42 PM

Without any other evidence, I can olny speculate that the Old Race are a result of some excelerated evolution, whether it occured by a natural flucuation, or the intervention of outside forces, I can't say. They may have been of the same rootstock as normal humans, but took a different evolutionary path. They may never have been very numerous, or there numbers may have been depleted as a result of the war with the non-humans, which allows normal humans to take over the world. That they are in someways superior is indicated by their long lifespans; Karon the boatman claimed to have lived 300 years. Perhaps they could be considered super-humans

#3 deuce

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 01:56 PM


Mentions and appearances of members of the Elder Race occur in two Kull stories, Riders Beyond the Sunrise and The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune.

They appear human, but are they?


In TMoTT, neither Tuzun nor Kull implies that the "Elder Racians" are anything but human.

In the first story mentioned above, a member of the Elder Race strongly implies that his people existed before the Serpent Men, which are established to have predated the Thurian civilisation in The Shadow Kingdom. Does anyone have any theories on their origins?


Is your source for this is Lin Carter's heavily-rewritten "Riders Beyond the Sunrise" tale or REH's actual "River Stagus Fragment"?Where does Karon "strongly imply" that "his people existed before the Serpent Men"? A quote would probably help out in this instance.

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#4 EJA

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 11:20 AM

In the version I've read, the ferryman in RBTS says to Kull "Nay, king of men, I am not a servant of the Snake. Ere they came hither, the Elder Race ruled...." So in the context of this version of the tale, it does seem as though they predate the Serpent Men.

A thought occurs to me: Just because the few members of the Elder Race we see in the Kull stories look human, it doesn't necessarily mean that they truly are. For all we know, they could have started out as something else entirely, and only quick-evolved themselves into a more human form after mankind became the dominant species.

#5 Alhazred

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 07:38 PM

The Elder Race bring to mind, for me at least, the people of Kn'-yan in The Mound ghostwritten by HPL. They don't need to be considered human even if indistinguishable, the snakemen in The Shadow Kingdom can do a glamour to look human, and nature has created many identical yet unrelated creatures due to convergent evolution. Mimicry for the purpose of survival is also common in nature, as numbers thin it may have been beneficial to evolve to resemble the dominant species. Then there is the possibility of mingling with the human bloodlines.
Under the caverned pyramids great Set coils asleep;
Among the shadows of the tombs his dusky people creep.
I speak the Word from the hidden gulfs that never knew the sun
Send me a servant for my hate, oh scaled and shining One!

#6 deuce

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 08:24 PM

In the version I've read, the ferryman in RBTS says to Kull "Nay, king of men, I am not a servant of the Snake. Ere they came hither, the Elder Race ruled...." So in the context of this version of the tale, it does seem as though they predate the Serpent Men.


A battered copy of Kull: Exile of Atlantis just hit my doorstep. Your quote above is not from the Robert E. Howard version of the tale. My copy of King Kull was destroyed in a flood, but I guarantee you THAT is the version you're quoting. Said version was heavily rewritten by Lin Carter. Since "Karon" was actually Thulsa Doom (according to LC), Carter was providing a backstory for Thulsa right before he killed 'im off.

Like I said, you can pick up a Del Rey Kull (the accurate/non-LC version) for $10 off Amazon. Situations like this could be avoided.

A thought occurs to me: Just because the few members of the Elder Race we see in the Kull stories look human, it doesn't necessarily mean that they truly are.


It also occurs to me that Robert E. Howard could very easily have hinted at their non-humanity, but did NOT. He certainly stated that the Lake Folk "were not men".

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#7 deuce

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 05:48 AM

Mentions and appearances of members of the Elder Race occur in two Kull stories, Riders Beyond the Sunrise and The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune.


Hey EJA! You're quite right that mentions of the "Elder Race" only occur in those two yarns. B) However, Howard never named the former story; LIN CARTER did. Al Harron/Taranaich has come up with a better system:

http://www.thecimmer...titled-fiction/

Here's what REH had to say in "The River Stagus Fragment" (according to Karon):

"Aye, I am a man of the Elder Race, who ruled the world before Valusia was, or Grondar or Zarfhaana." Karon talks about the Stagus but gives no more clues about the "Elder Race".

From "Tuzun Thune":

Then to Kull stole a girl of the court and whispered:

"Great king, seek Tuzun Thune, the wizard. The secrets of life and
death are his, and the stars in the sky the lands beneath the seas."
Kull looked at the girl. Fine gold was her hair and her violet eyes
were slanted strangely
; she was beautiful, but her beauty meant little
to Kull.
"I am your slave, my lord." And she sank to her knees meekly, but the
smile of her scarlet mouth was cunning behind Kull's back and the
gleam of her narrow eyes was crafty."


Later on...

"Tuzun Thune, the wizard. The man was ancient
as the hills of Zalgara; like wrinkled leather was his skin, but his
cold gray eyes were like sparks of sword steel
."

"Ere Atlantis was, Valusia was, and ere
Valusia was, the Elder Nations were. Aye, we, too, trampled the
shoulders of lost tribes in our advance. You, who have come from the
green sea hills of Atlantis to seize the ancient crown of Valusia, you
think my tribe is old, we who held these lands ere the Valusians came
out of the East, in the days before there were men in the sea lands.
But men were here when the Elder Tribes rode out of the waste lands,
and men before men, tribe before tribe."



What can we infer from Howard's clues? ONE out of three "Elder Racians" were "giants". Their "eye color" was all over the map. They were allowed to be "of the court" and there is NO "inhumanity" implied regarding their origins. NOWHERE is it implied that they have supernatural kin reigning somewhere to the South.


They appear human, but are they? In the first story mentioned above, a member of the Elder Race strongly implies that his people existed before the Serpent Men, which are established to have predated the Thurian civilisation in The Shadow Kingdom. Does anyone have any theories on their origins?


Yeah, the "Elder Race" are human. There is ZERO implication they're not, unless one counts Karon's centuries-long lifespan. They seem to have come out of the same eastern "waste lands" as the Thurians who conquered them. Just like the conquering waves of Indo-Europeans from the steppes that Robert E. Howard wrote about again and again and again.

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#8 EJA

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 11:47 AM

The Shadow Kingdom strongly implies that the serpent-people were the immediate predecessors of the Thurians in the lands comprising Valusia. If the Elder Race are human (or at least semi-human), that would mean that there were advanced human cultures in existence long before the snake-spawn rose to power.

#9 deuce

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 01:32 PM

The Shadow Kingdom strongly implies that the serpent-people were the immediate predecessors of the Thurians in the lands comprising Valusia. If the Elder Race are human (or at least semi-human), that would mean that there were advanced human cultures in existence long before the snake-spawn rose to power.

 

Robert E. Howard never even named "the Thurians" until he wrote "The Hyborian Age" guideline at least 6 years after The Shadow Kingdom.

 

The "Elder Racians" were human. Howard never implies otherwise. Some were skilled in magic, sure. Just like most ancient, decadent (human) races. Doesn't mean the Elder Race was "inhuman".


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#10 Zarono

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 04:27 PM

I've always assumed the Elder Race were humans, just not a common race in Kull's time. In "The Curse of the Golden Skull" the main character Rotath is called "the Lemurian" and his skeleton is described as being pretty weird with inhumanly long finger bones, curiously shaped feet, deep set eye sockets, and a great domed skull which differs horribly from modern man's; was Rotath a member of the Elder Race or did a lot of Lemurians look like him?