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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Annotated bibliography of Harold Lamb’s Cossack stories – part 2




Harold Lamb wrote more than forty stories of the Cossack adventurers. Luckily for us, all his stories are back in print, thanks to the efforts of Howard Andrew Jones.


In this bibliography, I want to give a flavor of the stories, the exotic locales and the different people that Khlit and others meet on their adventures, but still keep enough unknown that you’ll want to read them. Let me know if you like this. This is the second post of a four post series. 




Warriors of the Steppes: The Complete Cossack Adventures, Volume Two (v. 2)






Story Title
Comments
1.       
The Lion Cub
Rao Singh, the prince of Jhilam, has lost his kingdom after the death of his father. Jahangir, the Mughal emperor of India, gave it to Shaista Mirza, who rules with an iron fist. He runs into Khlit, who has left Jahangir’s court. Helping Rao Singh to elope with Kera of Kargan, a noble woman of Jahangir’s court, gets Khlit into trouble with Jahangir’s court. Rao Singh is caught by Shaista Mirza, and Kera of Kargan is killed by the Mirza’s men. Khlit vows revenge, but what can he, a hunted man, do to help a prisoner…
2.       
The skull of Shirzad Mir
Abdul Dost’s master, Shirzad Mir, is being held captive by Jani Beg, the Uzbek chieftain who poisoned Jahangir’s ears with false rumors of Shirzad Mir’s disloyalty. Shirzad Mir is to be executed before dawn tomorrow at Khanjut, where he is held prisoner. Fate brings Abdul Dost and Ralph Weyand, an English merchant at Jahangir’s court seeking to win trade concessions for his country, together at an encounter where Gutchluk Khan, an Uzbek warrior in Jani Beg’s pay, kills Ralph Weyand’s servant.  Ralph Weyand swears revenge and allies with Abdul Dost. Can they enter Khanjut, the citadel that has never been taken by storm, and fulfill their missions?
3.       
Said Afzel’s elephant
Shirzad Mir, Abdul Dost and Ralph Weyand need money, horses and arms to overthrow Jani Beg. Ralph Weyand suggests Akbar’s solution, “when he was pressed by great numbers of enemies, he would attack, always attack." They decide to attack Said Afzel, Jani Beg’s son, who is returning from Jahangir’s court with treasure. Said Afzel is mounted on a war elephant and escorted by a bodyguard of forty Pathans and camelmen. Three men, two swords and two horses against this company…
4.       
Prophecy of the blind
Ralph Weyand saves the child of Muhammad Asad, a blind kwajah from a herd of stampeding buffaloes. Muhammad Asad prophesises that “within the month the Ferang shall be master of Jani Beg’s stronghold.” Ralph Weyand plans to seize Khanjut, Jani Beg’s fortress, that has never been taken by storm. First though, he tackles the trading city of Balkh that controls the pass to India and through which the caravans to the east must pass. How can two men seize a city with ten thousand armed men?
5.       
Rose face
Jani Beg seeks to take Khanjut back from Shirzad Mir, who has taken it from him by a trick. He sends Krishna Taya, a Rajput courtesan, as a gift to Ralph Weyand at Khanjut, asking her to make allies of him and Sir Ralph. Abdul Dost thinks that Sir Ralph might have become a traitor, influenced by Krishna Taya. Has Jani Beg succeeded in splitting the three friends?
6.       
Ameer of the sea
Jani Beg allies himself with the Persian general, Shah Abbas, to get rid of their mutual enemy, Shirzad Mir, and perhaps take the Mughal empire as well. Jahangir the Mughal is relaxing in the gardens of Kabul, away from his army which has been subduing a rebellion in the Deccan. Jani Beg has invited him to watch the conclusion of the siege of Khanjut, and plans to capture him. How will Sir Ralph complete his mission, and save Shirzad Mir from capture and death, in a besieged fortress, starving from inadequate food?
7.       
Law of fire
It is 1609, Khlit is in Leh, where he encounters Pir Kasim, the merchant, who requests his protection on a journey to Yarkand. The merchant trades in the living dead. Abdul Dost, the warrior, runs into the merchant’s servant, Nasir Beg, and tries to buy a woman. Nasir Beg cheats him of the woman and the money and escapes. Abdul Dost vows to revenge himself on Nasir Beg, and sets off in pursuit. What are the living dead? Will Abdul Dost and Khlit fight to the death?
8.       
The bride of Jagannath
Abdul Dost and Khlit travel across India, reaching Thaneshwar, in the province of Kukushetra, just as the ruler, Rawul Matap Singh has married Retha of Rinthambur and is bringing her to his home. The priests of the temple of Jagannath are growing in power and wealth, acquiring land from devout villagers. Nagir Jan, the priest, sees Retha on the way, and goads the villagers to rebel against Matap Singh, sacking his residence and taking his wife into captivity for the service of Jagannath. Khlit and Abdul Dost have become friends of the Rawul, but what can two men do against the evil power of the temple?
9.       
The masterpiece of death
Taleb Khan, the ruler of Pawundur, sends Khlit and Abdul Dost on a mission to collect the yearly tribute to the Mughal emperor from the treasury of Ghar and bring it to him so that he can deliver it to the emperor. Three previous messengers have died or disappeared, victims of the thuggee cult of stranglers. Caught between the thuggees and the treacherous Taleb Khan, can Khlit and Abdul Dost win the day?
10.   
The curved sword
Alacha, the Turkoman, rules Badakshan, plundering mercilessly and carrying off women he likes. One of the women he steals is the beloved of Chan, the musician, who runs into Abdul Dost and Khlit and mistaking them for the Turkoman’s men, attacks them. Khlit subdues him, and Chan tells them why he was attacking. Abdul Dost rebels against Alacha and his master, the Mughal emperor Jahangir. Khlit tries to persuade Jahangir to remove Alacha from the throne of Badakshan, but fails. Having no one to turn to in a strange land, sworn to support his friend, what will Khlit do?


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this bibliography on the cossack stories by Harold Lamb. I first discovered Lamb in the 1960's when two hardcover collections were published about Khlit. I slowly began to realize that it was possible to actually collect and read the original pulp magazines containing these stories.

    This led to me compiling a complete set of ADVENTURE and reading all the Lamb, Friel, Pendexter, Mundy, etc stories. These writers are very important and I'm glad to read your comments.

    By the way, your post should be titled Part Two instead of Part One.

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    Replies
    1. Fixed the title, thanks Walker.

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