Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?


A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart? The brilliant professor from Bethel University? Or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Great Characters of Robert E. Howard

"Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."
— Robert E. Howard, The Phoenix on the Sword, 1932.

I wanted to finish the week with a shout out to Robert E. Howard and the great characters he created, of which Conan stands first and foremost. I understand another movie is in the works, but I have no idea how good, or bad, it will be. My guess is that it will be bad. Just don’t want to get my hopes up.

I understand Jason Mamoa will be cast as Conan. Don’t know a lot about him, but he looks to fit the role better than Arnold anyway. I still don’t understand why they won’t give him the black hair of which Howard described Conan as having. I mean, even Arnold played a brown haired Conan, and now according to photos from the internet I've seen, Mamoa is sporting his natural brown hair for the role. Like, how hard is it to dye an actor's hair black, for crisakes? Or put on a black wig?

Anyway, more important is the screenplay, and if the new screenplay is anything like the movie Milius made, then all bets are off. The movie will suck.

For those of you who don’t know, Conan did NOT grow up a slave, as Milius portrayed. Conan did get captured as a young fighter, but he killed his captors and escaped by his own cunning, not freed by the sympathy of a slave master, a la Milius.

Conan was intelligent and a highly adept strategist, not a bumbling oaf, a la Milius. I mean, I could go on, but you get the point. May John Milius’ movie be forever forgotten. And that is why I hedge to consider this new movie. If it is anything like the prior one…well, I don’t want to use foul language on my blog. I know other bloggers do, but I don’t. However, if I did, this would be the spot I would do it.

I just found out that Barack Obama is a Conan fan, and still has his collection of Conan comic books. It says that on Wikipedia. Well, whataya know! I can say that the comics, unlike the movies and TV shows, have stayed pretty true to Howard’s character. I have my own collection, so I know.

Here is the best artistic rendition of Conan I have ever seen. It’s a painting of Conan by the greatest artist of the Twentieth Century, Frank Frazetta. (Click on the picture to see it enlarged.)

All any movie director has to do is look at this painting and order the make-up department to make their actor, whoever it is, look just like that.

On another note, I mentioned on yesterday's post that my other favorite Robert E. Howard character is Solomon Kane. I understand that a movie of Solomon Kane is also in the works. All I know so far is that I like the actor they cast for the lead. His name is James Purefoy, and he's known to me from the HBO miniseries a couple years ago called ROME. (I know - Milius again - but that's another story.) Purefoy played Mark Antony, and he was PERFECT for that role. Here’s a picture of Purefoy as Solomon Kane. Not bad. I do have higher hopes for this one. Whereas Conan's adventures took place in prehistory, Solomon Kane's took place in the 1600s. Missing from this picture is his Pilgrim hat. But all the pictures I found where he's wearing the hat, you can't see his face very well. That's why I selected this shot.

You know, the bottom line is READ THE BOOKS. Do not depend on these movie makers to introduce you to Conan or Solomon Kane. Let the man who created them do that. Please, before these movies can destroy your vision of Conan or Solomon Kane, and ultimately, Robert E. Howard, read the books. You'll be glad you did. It’s writing at its best.


  1. If it is anything like the prior one…well, I don’t want to use foul language on my blog. I know other bloggers do, but I don’t. However, if I did, this would be the spot I would do it.

    Well, better get the swear jar out:


    By the way, I think that painting is probably "the" Conan image. Certainly it's the most influential.

    As for Solomon Kane... well, unfortunately Bassett pulled a Milius on this one, and presented an origin story that manages to contradict Howard's stories:


    I don't know what it is with Hollywood.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your final paragraphs says all that needed to be said.

  2. It's OK, I never expected Hollywood to get it right. But every once in a while they do. I need only say Lord of the Rings!! Movies like that give you hope.

    If only Peter Jackson took the reins for Conan!