It was my second time reading The Black Stone. I did enjoy revisiting it, but I can’t say it’s a favorite of mine among Howard’s horror tales. I know many love this one. And I guess it stands out because it’s so different from his usual work. Maybe if it wasn’t so important in showing the influence of Lovecraft because of their beginning exchange of ideas, it wouldn’t be praised that much.
Still, it’s a good story well worth being a part of Howard’s most important horror input. It gives me the same feeling as the Kirowan stuff, with scholars and references thrown in just for flavor. I very much prefer Pigeons, Canaan, or any of his southern tales.
Just out of curiosity I checked the Weird Tales letter columns in the issues following its original publication and no letters were published about it. People were raving over an Alexander Dumas serial called "The Wolf Leader" and a short vampire tale called "Placide's Wife" by Nita Duboin who I have to admit I have never heard of.
This yarn was in part REH pastiching HPL. "It's not my usual style" I think he mentioned in one of his letters. He also made use of some of his background research for The Shadow of the Vulture.
I remember reading a strip in the back of one of the Dark Horse comics where REH was writing a letter to someone and he told them he bought a history book and sold a number of stories just from that one tome.
Post by charleshelm on Oct 18, 2020 20:43:37 GMT -5
I have been busy but I re-read this tonight. It must be my third or fourth time to do so. I enjoy the geographic and historical references, the tie-ins that pull the story elements together. I did find it very unlikely that the lacquered case would be found comparatively easily (and he mention in the text that he doesn't see how he accomplished it). Also, the dimensions of the stone seem strange as he says it is sixteen feet high but only a foot and a half thick. Not sure how massive a toad beast could comfortably sit on top of that.
There are many elements here that Howard liked, the lost race, the survival of the truly ancient pieces of the past, forbidden knowledge. As before, I truly enjoyed it.
And add me to the list that is glad to see the "Story of the Month" return. I hope the momentum can keep up. In the past it seems to dampen after a bit.
Edit: Maybe I should keep my Del Rey "Horror Stories" volume off the shelf for a bit as it has the next two stories as well.
Post by charleshelm on Oct 19, 2020 20:10:47 GMT -5
I meant to add that the midsummer night vision put me in mind of Faust and Mephistopheles on Walpurgisnacht, observing the devilish goings-on without being a part of them. Probably it's just me, but it brought the Faust scene to mind.