Thursday, October 27, 2011

Swords from the East, Swords from the Sea by Harold Lamb, a review

Swords from the Sea
Harold Lamb
Howard Andrew Jones, ed.
Bison Books (552 pp, $24.95, 2010)

Swords from the East
Harold Lamb
Howard Andrew Jones, ed.
Bison Books (476 pp, $24.95, 2010)

It must have been something, the pre-television age when pulp magazines were a widely consumed form of entertainment. I can only imagine the anticipation of opening up one’s mailbox, finding inside the latest copy of Adventure magazine, and settling in to an evening of rousing tales by the likes of Talbot Mundy, H. Rider Haggard, and Harold Lamb. It was a time of pulse-pounding action and tales of distant historic epochs on the printed page.

Those days are now gone, and for many years the contents of those now-yellowed pulps were largely inaccessible, save through the efforts of patient and often deep-pocketed enthusiasts. But fortunately some of these works are now being collected in anthologies. Editor Howard Andrew Jones has done the Herculean task of assembling Lamb’s stories in the eight volume “Harold Lamb Library” series by Bison Books. These include Swords from the Desert and Swords from the West, and recently concluded with Swords from the Sea and Swords from the East.

To read the rest of this review, visit The Black Gate website .


Fred said...


I've read Mundy and Haggard, but I don't remember anything by Lamb, unless it might have been a short story long ago.

I will keep him in mind when I'm in the mood for a rousing adventure. Has any films been made of his works?

Andy said...

While there have been no direct adaptations of his work, Lamb actually used to do screenwriting for Cecil B. DeMille. One of the movies he worked on was The Crusades. I believe John Milius also swiped the famous "What is best in life?" dialogue from his Conan movie from Lamb's fictionalized biography of Genghis Khan (Genghis Khan: Emperor of All Men).

Brian Murphy said...

Hi Fred, Andy knows more than I about the subject of Lamb and the movies so I'm going with his word. I will vouch for the quality of his stories, though. A lot of fun.

Fred said...


OK, thanks. I should look into some of his works.

Ben said...

Lamb is a forgotten master. His bio of Genghis is awesome and reads better than any other academic text on the warlord.
I HIGHLY recommend Iron Men and Saints. It's his treatment of the first Crusade and is the best book on any of the Crusades I have ever read. The descriptions are as poetic as anything Tolkien or Howard ever wrote and the story sucks you in as quick as any Conan yarn.
Ironically I find his fictional stories to not be as fascinating as his biographies. Something about them that makes me have a little trouble getting into them. Maybe it's all the thee's and thou's in the ones I have read. Still great storytelling though. And I would rather read them than most any other historical fiction written today.
His influence on Robert E. Howard cannot be understated. Most all of Howard's historical short stories recently collected in the "Swordwoman" Del Rey edition, can be traced directly back to Lamb.
So if you want to read the best books on Medieval and Ancient history you will ever read, look him up on Amazon or Ebay as soon as you can. I am actually about to start his bio on Alexander the Great this weekend.