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Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures (2011)

by Robert E. Howard

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I'm not that big of fan of historical fiction, but some of these are good and very good - and the Sword Woman stories are better than that. And some of the fragments look like the stories would be very good from those, too.

I did find the introduction talking about Howard's sources and inspiration fascinating. And Harold Lamb and Stanley Lane-Poole non-fiction mentioned is available at Project Gutenberg and Archive.org and such places which makes it even cooler.

Howard Andrew Jones analysis of the work is also extremely interesting. I have actually read the intro and this a few times now.

Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Spears of Clontarf - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Hawks Over Egypt - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Road of Azrael - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Lion of Tiberias - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Gates of Empire - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Hawks of Outremer - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Blood of Belshazzar - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Red Blades of Black Cathay - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Sowers of the Thunder - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Lord of Samarcand - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Sword Woman - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Blades for France - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Shadow of the Vulture - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Road of the Eagles - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment The Track of Bohemund - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment The Slave-Princess - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment He knew de Bracy - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment The wind from the Mediterranean - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment The Persians had all fled - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Sign of the Sickle - Robert E. Howard - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Mistress of Death - Robert E. Howard - Robert E. Howard

The Irish and allies (including Turlough Dubh) vs The Danes and similar in a pitched battle to break the power of the Viking raiders forever.

4 out of 5

A Castilian soldier seeks revenge on a general in Cairo over the ambushing and death of his fellow knights. He ends up helping along some political destabilisation that benefits Spain.

4 out of 5

Where a knight and a Chagatai warrior rescue the former lover's sold as part of a deal between Western and Eastern lords. The madness over this slip of a girl consumes many lives - including those of a band of Vikings wrecked on the coast with their king in exile.

3.5 out of 5

Mangled princes, and a captive crusader that a Turkish ruler finds rather too supernaturally resilient for his liking.

3 out of 5

Drinking, swordplay, lots of yelling, politics, and a bargaining wench.

3 out of 5

Skull shield and cursed sword make Cormac Fitzgeoffrey a scary man.

3 out of 5

Cormac has no time for fools or butchers, but jewellery will pay the bills.

3 out of 5

A veteran Crusader, now less gullible, falls in a saving act. Nursed back to health by a creamy cheeked smart woman, he now has a small problem to deal with named Genghis Khan.

4 out of 5

Manly playing with large shafts in pubs is cut short by some battles, and the Mongol hordes descend on Jerusalem. Yet another Gael finds himself in the thick of it, with a similar life expectancy.

3 out of 5

A young Scotsman watches a battle go awry, but later is happy with a home in the area, and the chance to do some claymore wielding Turk lopping, but it is a very dangerous business.

3.5 out of 5

A woman bails on the fiance she is disgusted by, and meets a rogue knight type in the forest, who has other plans for her.

She isn't the type to go quietly:

"Saint Denis deliver me from such tender care as this hell-cat has shown," quoth Perducas under his breath."

She almost kills him, finding out what he is up to, and decides the military life is for her when she hears of a sword-woman named 'Black Margot'.

When the Commander she is talking to doesn't think so:-

"Bah! I spit on you all! There is no man alive who can face me with weapons and live, and before I die, I'll prove it to the world. Women! Cows! Slaves! Whimpering, cringing serfs, crouching to blows, revenging themselves by taking their own lives, as my sister urged me to do. Ha! You deny me a place among men? By God, I'll live as I please and die as God wills, but if I'm not fit to be a man's comrade, at least I'll be no man's mistress. So go ye to hell, Guiscard de Clisson, and may the devil tear your heart!"

Attacked in her room at night with the man she almost disposed of, she finds a talent for slaughter, dispatching all of her attackers. They begin to believe her military value:

"Aye, Dark Agnes!" said Etienne, lifting himself on elbow. "A star of darkness shone on her birth, of darkness and unrest. Where ever she goes shall be blood spilling and men dying. I knew it when I saw her standing against the sunrise that turned to blood the dagger in her hand."

Ambushed again, the man whose life she spared helps her out.

4 out of 5

"But as I rode through the twilight, I found no regret in my heart that I had traded my life of drudgery for one of wandering and violence. It was the life for which mysterious Fate had intended me, and I fitted it as well as any man: drinking, brawling, gambling, and fighting. With pistol, dagger or sword I had proved my prowess again and again, and I feared no man who walked the earth. Better a short life of adventure and wild living than a long dreary grind of soul-crushing household toil and child-bearing, cringing under the cudgel of a man I hated."

After that is masks and mayhem and rescue for Dark Agnes.

3.5 out of 5

http://www.gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0608101.txt

Not much sorcery to be seen in this historical adventure, but it is the origin of the character that Roy Thomas and others adapted with such success for Marvel in comics form, so of interest to fans of Conan and Red Sonja as she currently stands, chainmail bikini wearing barbarbian Hyrkanian warrior.

It is also a sterling Robert E. Howard tale, as well as being the origin of the flame haired swordswoman.

Von Kalmbach is a knight who managed to injure the Turkish leader in battle in the past, when his other 31 comrades died. When it is learned he is still alive, an assassin is sent after him:

""Enough of excuses," interrupted Ibrahim. "Send Mikhal Oglu to
me. ... The man whose very name was a shuddering watchword of horror to all western Asia was soft-spoken and moved with the mincing ease of a cat..."

"...nor could Ibrahim guess that he was taking the first steps in a feud which should spread over years and far lands, swirling in dark tides to draw in thrones and kingdoms and red-haired
women more beautiful than the flames of hell..."

Von Kalmbach is drinking in a small town outside Vienna when he realises an invasion is coming, and rides quickly for the city, where a defense is being mustered.

Looking around, he is surprised: "Turning toward the abandoned gun, he saw a colorful, incongruous figure bending over the massive breech.

It was a woman, dressed as von Kalmbach had not seen even the
dandies of France dressed. She was tall, splendidly shaped, but lithe. From under a steel cap escaped rebellious tresses that rippled red gold in the sun over her compact shoulders. High boots of Cordovan leather came to her mid-thighs, which were cased in baggy breeches. She wore a shirt of fine Turkish mesh-mail tucked into her breeches. Her supple waist was confined by a flowing sash of green silk, into which were thrust a brace of pistols and a dagger, and from which depended a long Hungarian saber. Over all was carelessly thrown a scarlet cloak.

This surprizing figure was bending over the cannon, sighting it in a manner betokening more than a passing familiarity, at a group of Turks who were wheeling a carriage-gun just within range.

"Eh, Red Sonya!" shouted a man-at-arms, waving his pike. "Give 'em hell, my lass!""

Thomas and company certainly lifted her temperament, and physical presence, wholesale : "A terrific detonation drowned her words and a swirl of smoke blinded every one on the turret, as the terrific recoil of the overcharged cannon knocked the firer flat on her back. She sprang up like a spring rebounding and rushed to the embrasure, peering eagerly through the smoke, which clearing, showed the ruin of the gun crew. The huge ball, bigger than a man's head, had smashed full into the group clustered about the saker, and now they lay on the torn ground, their skulls blasted by the impact, or their bodies mangled by the flying iron splinters from their shattered gun. A cheer went up from

the towers, and the woman called Red Sonya yelled with a sincere joy and did the steps of a Cossack dance.

Gottfried approached, eying in open admiration the splendid swell

of her bosom beneath the pliant mail, the curves of her ample hips and rounded limbs. She stood as a man might stand, booted legs braced wide apart, thumbs hooked into her girdle, but she was all woman. She was laughing as she faced him, and he noted with fascination the dancing sparkling lights and changing colors of her eyes. She raked back her rebellious locks with a powder-stained hand and he wondered at the clear pinky whiteness of her firm flesh where it was unstained.

"Why did you wish for the Sultana Roxelana for a target, my girl?" he asked.

"Because she's my sister, the slut!" answered Sonya. "

Pretty soon, Gottfried is very happy she is there:

"It was Red Sonya who had come to his aid, and her onslaught was no less terrible than that of a she-panther. Her strokes followed each other too quickly for the eye to follow; her blade was a blur of white fire, and men went down like ripe grain before the reaper. With a deep roar Gottfried strode to her side, bloody and terrible, swinging his great blade. Forced irresistibly back, the Moslems wavered on the edge of the wall, then leaped for the ladders or fell screaming through empty space.

Oaths flowed in a steady stream from Sonya's red lips and she
laughed wildly as her saber sang home and blood spurted along the
edge. The last Turk on the battlement screamed and parried wildly as she pressed him; then dropping his scimitar, his clutching hands closed desperately on her dripping blade. With a groan he swayed on the edge, blood gushing from his horribly cut fingers.

"Hell to you, dog-soul!" she laughed. "The devil can stir your
broth for you!"

With a twist and a wrench she tore away her saber, severing the
wretch's fingers; with a moaning cry he pitched backward and fell
headlong.""

The somewhat bewildered knight still does not know what to make of her: ""By God, my girl," said he, extending a huge hand, "had you not come to my aid, I think I'd have supped in Hell this night. I thank--"

"Thank the devil!" retorted Sonya rudely, slapping his hand aside. "The Turks were on the wall. Don't think I risked my hide to save yours, dog-brother!"

And with a scornful flirt of her wide coattails, she swaggered off down the battlements, giving back promptly and profanely the rude sallies of the soldiers."

He enquires about this woman: "Eh, she's a devil, that one! She drinks the strongest head under the table and outswears a Spaniard. She's no man's light o' love. Cut--slash--death to you, dog-soul! There's her way."

"Red Sonya from Rogatino--that's all we know. Marches and fights
like a man--God knows why. Swears she's sister to Roxelana, the
Soldan's favorite. If the Tatars who grabbed Roxelana that night had got Sonya, by Saint Piotr! Suleyman would have had a handful! Let her alone, sir brother; she's a wildcat. Come and have a tankard of ale."

After an ill advised excursion against the enemy, Sonya pulls Gottfried to safety, and after telling him of the death of a leader, she displays no patience for sensitive men: Gottfried sat down on a piece of fallen wall, and because he was shaken and exhausted, and still mazed with drink and blood-lust, he sank his face in his huge hands and wept. Sonya kicked him disgustedly.

"Name o' Satan, man, don't sit and blubber like a spanked schoolgirl. You drunkards had to play the fool, but that can't be
mended. Come--let's go to the Walloon's tavern and drink ale."

After some more heavy fighting and a respite, the Turks try some sneaking to get to von Kalmbach, but again Sonya is there: "Tshoruk snarled like a wolf and struck him savagely on the head
with a scimitar hilt. Almost instantly, it seemed, the door crashed inward. As in a dream Gottfried saw Red Sonya framed in the doorway, pistol in hand. Her face was drawn and haggard; her eyes burned like coals. Her basinet was gone, and her scarlet cloak. Her mail was hacked and red-clotted, her boots slashed, her silken breeches splashed and spotted with blood.

With a croaking cry Tshoruk ran at her, scimitar lifted. Before he could strike, she crashed down the barrel of the empty pistol on his head, felling him like an ox. From the other side Rhupen slashed at her with a curved Turkish dagger. Dropping the pistol, she closed with the young Oriental. Moving like someone in a dream, she bore him irresistibly backward, one hand gripping his wrist, the other his throat. Throttling him slowly, she inexorably crashed his head again and again against the stones of the wall, until his eyes rolled up and set. Then she threw him from her like a sack of loose salt."

As she says : ""The bells of Saint Stephen!" cried Sonya. "They peal for victory!""

The defenders have won, and the Turks retreat. Sonya and von Kalmbach spare one of the sneakers they have caught, and send him back with a grim message for the attackers.

4.5 out of 5

The conflict between corsairs and Cossack raiders gets complex as a captive prince becomes involved, with other twists and identity turns to follow.

3.5 out of 5

A knight discovers a plot after killing an oddly out of place Crusader.

3.5 out of 5

Cormac Fitzgeoffrey finds a princess masquerading as a slave girl and decides to broker a deal.

4 out of 5

A Highlander good with his weapons.

3.5 out of 5

A slave market.

3.5 out of 5

One Scotsman, one dead magician, fewer city watch now that we skewered some, but maybe still one magician too many.

4 out of 5

http://freesf.strandedinoz.com/wordpress/2011/12/sword-woman-and-other-historica... ( )
  BlueTysonSS | Dec 20, 2011 |
I'm not that big of fan of historical fiction, but some of these are good and very good - and the Sword Woman stories are better than that. And some of the fragments look like the stories would be very good from those, too.

I did find the introduction talking about Howard's sources and inspiration fascinating. And Harold Lamb and Stanley Lane-Poole non-fiction mentioned is available at Project Gutenberg and Archive.org and such places which makes it even cooler.

Howard Andrew Jones analysis of the work is also extremely interesting. I have actually read the intro and this a few times now.

Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Spears of Clontarf - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Hawks Over Egypt - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Road of Azrael - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Lion of Tiberias - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Gates of Empire - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Hawks of Outremer - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Blood of Belshazzar - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Red Blades of Black Cathay - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Sowers of the Thunder - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Lord of Samarcand - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Sword Woman - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Blades for France - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Shadow of the Vulture - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Road of the Eagles - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment The Track of Bohemund - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment The Slave-Princess - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment He knew de Bracy - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment The wind from the Mediterranean - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Untitled Fragment The Persians had all fled - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : The Sign of the Sickle - Robert E. Howard - Robert E. Howard
Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures : Mistress of Death - Robert E. Howard - Robert E. Howard

The Irish and allies (including Turlough Dubh) vs The Danes and similar in a pitched battle to break the power of the Viking raiders forever.

4 out of 5

A Castilian soldier seeks revenge on a general in Cairo over the ambushing and death of his fellow knights. He ends up helping along some political destabilisation that benefits Spain.

4 out of 5

Where a knight and a Chagatai warrior rescue the former lover's sold as part of a deal between Western and Eastern lords. The madness over this slip of a girl consumes many lives - including those of a band of Vikings wrecked on the coast with their king in exile.

3.5 out of 5

Mangled princes, and a captive crusader that a Turkish ruler finds rather too supernaturally resilient for his liking.

3 out of 5

Drinking, swordplay, lots of yelling, politics, and a bargaining wench.

3 out of 5

Skull shield and cursed sword make Cormac Fitzgeoffrey a scary man.

3 out of 5

Cormac has no time for fools or butchers, but jewellery will pay the bills.

3 out of 5

A veteran Crusader, now less gullible, falls in a saving act. Nursed back to health by a creamy cheeked smart woman, he now has a small problem to deal with named Genghis Khan.

4 out of 5

Manly playing with large shafts in pubs is cut short by some battles, and the Mongol hordes descend on Jerusalem. Yet another Gael finds himself in the thick of it, with a similar life expectancy.

3 out of 5

A young Scotsman watches a battle go awry, but later is happy with a home in the area, and the chance to do some claymore wielding Turk lopping, but it is a very dangerous business.

3.5 out of 5

A woman bails on the fiance she is disgusted by, and meets a rogue knight type in the forest, who has other plans for her.

She isn't the type to go quietly:

"Saint Denis deliver me from such tender care as this hell-cat has shown," quoth Perducas under his breath."

She almost kills him, finding out what he is up to, and decides the military life is for her when she hears of a sword-woman named 'Black Margot'.

When the Commander she is talking to doesn't think so:-

"Bah! I spit on you all! There is no man alive who can face me with weapons and live, and before I die, I'll prove it to the world. Women! Cows! Slaves! Whimpering, cringing serfs, crouching to blows, revenging themselves by taking their own lives, as my sister urged me to do. Ha! You deny me a place among men? By God, I'll live as I please and die as God wills, but if I'm not fit to be a man's comrade, at least I'll be no man's mistress. So go ye to hell, Guiscard de Clisson, and may the devil tear your heart!"

Attacked in her room at night with the man she almost disposed of, she finds a talent for slaughter, dispatching all of her attackers. They begin to believe her military value:

"Aye, Dark Agnes!" said Etienne, lifting himself on elbow. "A star of darkness shone on her birth, of darkness and unrest. Where ever she goes shall be blood spilling and men dying. I knew it when I saw her standing against the sunrise that turned to blood the dagger in her hand."

Ambushed again, the man whose life she spared helps her out.

4 out of 5

"But as I rode through the twilight, I found no regret in my heart that I had traded my life of drudgery for one of wandering and violence. It was the life for which mysterious Fate had intended me, and I fitted it as well as any man: drinking, brawling, gambling, and fighting. With pistol, dagger or sword I had proved my prowess again and again, and I feared no man who walked the earth. Better a short life of adventure and wild living than a long dreary grind of soul-crushing household toil and child-bearing, cringing under the cudgel of a man I hated."

After that is masks and mayhem and rescue for Dark Agnes.

3.5 out of 5

http://www.gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0608101.txt

Not much sorcery to be seen in this historical adventure, but it is the origin of the character that Roy Thomas and others adapted with such success for Marvel in comics form, so of interest to fans of Conan and Red Sonja as she currently stands, chainmail bikini wearing barbarbian Hyrkanian warrior.

It is also a sterling Robert E. Howard tale, as well as being the origin of the flame haired swordswoman.

Von Kalmbach is a knight who managed to injure the Turkish leader in battle in the past, when his other 31 comrades died. When it is learned he is still alive, an assassin is sent after him:

""Enough of excuses," interrupted Ibrahim. "Send Mikhal Oglu to
me. ... The man whose very name was a shuddering watchword of horror to all western Asia was soft-spoken and moved with the mincing ease of a cat..."

"...nor could Ibrahim guess that he was taking the first steps in a feud which should spread over years and far lands, swirling in dark tides to draw in thrones and kingdoms and red-haired
women more beautiful than the flames of hell..."

Von Kalmbach is drinking in a small town outside Vienna when he realises an invasion is coming, and rides quickly for the city, where a defense is being mustered.

Looking around, he is surprised: "Turning toward the abandoned gun, he saw a colorful, incongruous figure bending over the massive breech.

It was a woman, dressed as von Kalmbach had not seen even the
dandies of France dressed. She was tall, splendidly shaped, but lithe. From under a steel cap escaped rebellious tresses that rippled red gold in the sun over her compact shoulders. High boots of Cordovan leather came to her mid-thighs, which were cased in baggy breeches. She wore a shirt of fine Turkish mesh-mail tucked into her breeches. Her supple waist was confined by a flowing sash of green silk, into which were thrust a brace of pistols and a dagger, and from which depended a long Hungarian saber. Over all was carelessly thrown a scarlet cloak.

This surprizing figure was bending over the cannon, sighting it in a manner betokening more than a passing familiarity, at a group of Turks who were wheeling a carriage-gun just within range.

"Eh, Red Sonya!" shouted a man-at-arms, waving his pike. "Give 'em hell, my lass!""

Thomas and company certainly lifted her temperament, and physical presence, wholesale : "A terrific detonation drowned her words and a swirl of smoke blinded every one on the turret, as the terrific recoil of the overcharged cannon knocked the firer flat on her back. She sprang up like a spring rebounding and rushed to the embrasure, peering eagerly through the smoke, which clearing, showed the ruin of the gun crew. The huge ball, bigger than a man's head, had smashed full into the group clustered about the saker, and now they lay on the torn ground, their skulls blasted by the impact, or their bodies mangled by the flying iron splinters from their shattered gun. A cheer went up from

the towers, and the woman called Red Sonya yelled with a sincere joy and did the steps of a Cossack dance.

Gottfried approached, eying in open admiration the splendid swell

of her bosom beneath the pliant mail, the curves of her ample hips and rounded limbs. She stood as a man might stand, booted legs braced wide apart, thumbs hooked into her girdle, but she was all woman. She was laughing as she faced him, and he noted with fascination the dancing sparkling lights and changing colors of her eyes. She raked back her rebellious locks with a powder-stained hand and he wondered at the clear pinky whiteness of her firm flesh where it was unstained.

"Why did you wish for the Sultana Roxelana for a target, my girl?" he asked.

"Because she's my sister, the slut!" answered Sonya. "

Pretty soon, Gottfried is very happy she is there:

"It was Red Sonya who had come to his aid, and her onslaught was no less terrible than that of a she-panther. Her strokes followed each other too quickly for the eye to follow; her blade was a blur of white fire, and men went down like ripe grain before the reaper. With a deep roar Gottfried strode to her side, bloody and terrible, swinging his great blade. Forced irresistibly back, the Moslems wavered on the edge of the wall, then leaped for the ladders or fell screaming through empty space.

Oaths flowed in a steady stream from Sonya's red lips and she
laughed wildly as her saber sang home and blood spurted along the
edge. The last Turk on the battlement screamed and parried wildly as she pressed him; then dropping his scimitar, his clutching hands closed desperately on her dripping blade. With a groan he swayed on the edge, blood gushing from his horribly cut fingers.

"Hell to you, dog-soul!" she laughed. "The devil can stir your
broth for you!"

With a twist and a wrench she tore away her saber, severing the
wretch's fingers; with a moaning cry he pitched backward and fell
headlong.""

The somewhat bewildered knight still does not know what to make of her: ""By God, my girl," said he, extending a huge hand, "had you not come to my aid, I think I'd have supped in Hell this night. I thank--"

"Thank the devil!" retorted Sonya rudely, slapping his hand aside. "The Turks were on the wall. Don't think I risked my hide to save yours, dog-brother!"

And with a scornful flirt of her wide coattails, she swaggered off down the battlements, giving back promptly and profanely the rude sallies of the soldiers."

He enquires about this woman: "Eh, she's a devil, that one! She drinks the strongest head under the table and outswears a Spaniard. She's no man's light o' love. Cut--slash--death to you, dog-soul! There's her way."

"Red Sonya from Rogatino--that's all we know. Marches and fights
like a man--God knows why. Swears she's sister to Roxelana, the
Soldan's favorite. If the Tatars who grabbed Roxelana that night had got Sonya, by Saint Piotr! Suleyman would have had a handful! Let her alone, sir brother; she's a wildcat. Come and have a tankard of ale."

After an ill advised excursion against the enemy, Sonya pulls Gottfried to safety, and after telling him of the death of a leader, she displays no patience for sensitive men: Gottfried sat down on a piece of fallen wall, and because he was shaken and exhausted, and still mazed with drink and blood-lust, he sank his face in his huge hands and wept. Sonya kicked him disgustedly.

"Name o' Satan, man, don't sit and blubber like a spanked schoolgirl. You drunkards had to play the fool, but that can't be
mended. Come--let's go to the Walloon's tavern and drink ale."

After some more heavy fighting and a respite, the Turks try some sneaking to get to von Kalmbach, but again Sonya is there: "Tshoruk snarled like a wolf and struck him savagely on the head
with a scimitar hilt. Almost instantly, it seemed, the door crashed inward. As in a dream Gottfried saw Red Sonya framed in the doorway, pistol in hand. Her face was drawn and haggard; her eyes burned like coals. Her basinet was gone, and her scarlet cloak. Her mail was hacked and red-clotted, her boots slashed, her silken breeches splashed and spotted with blood.

With a croaking cry Tshoruk ran at her, scimitar lifted. Before he could strike, she crashed down the barrel of the empty pistol on his head, felling him like an ox. From the other side Rhupen slashed at her with a curved Turkish dagger. Dropping the pistol, she closed with the young Oriental. Moving like someone in a dream, she bore him irresistibly backward, one hand gripping his wrist, the other his throat. Throttling him slowly, she inexorably crashed his head again and again against the stones of the wall, until his eyes rolled up and set. Then she threw him from her like a sack of loose salt."

As she says : ""The bells of Saint Stephen!" cried Sonya. "They peal for victory!""

The defenders have won, and the Turks retreat. Sonya and von Kalmbach spare one of the sneakers they have caught, and send him back with a grim message for the attackers.

4.5 out of 5

The conflict between corsairs and Cossack raiders gets complex as a captive prince becomes involved, with other twists and identity turns to follow.

3.5 out of 5

A knight discovers a plot after killing an oddly out of place Crusader.

3.5 out of 5

Cormac Fitzgeoffrey finds a princess masquerading as a slave girl and decides to broker a deal.

4 out of 5

A Highlander good with his weapons.

3.5 out of 5

A slave market.

3.5 out of 5

One Scotsman, one dead magician, fewer city watch now that we skewered some, but maybe still one magician too many.

4 out of 5

http://freesf.strandedinoz.com/wordpress/2011/12/sword-woman-and-other-historica... ( )
  BlueTysonSS | Dec 8, 2011 |
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Dedication
This book is dedicated to my deceased wife, Lorraine, who I'm sure would be pleased that I finally got to illustrate a book by such a great writer. - John Watkiss
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"War is in the wind - the ravens are gathering."
Quotations
"I have conquered," answered Baibars, shaken for the first time in his wild life, "but I am half-blind - and of what avail to slay men of that breed? They will come again and again and again, riding to death like a feast because of the restlessness of their souls, through all the centuries. What though we prevail this little Now? They are a race unconquerable, and at last, in a year or a thousand years, they will trample Islam under their feet and ride again through the streets of Jerusalem."
And over the red field of battle night fell shuddering.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Includes a collection of 18 of the author's stories, as well as his unfinished works. The book also includes some biographical information and an in-depth analysis of the author's stories.

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