In this weeks episode I’m going to be discussing The Valley of the Worm by Robert E. Howard. The Valley of the Worm first appeared in the February 1934 issue of Weird Tales. I read it in The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 1: Red Shadows published by Del Rey books.
The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 1 Crimson Shadows is fully illustrated by Jim and Ruth Keegan. I first discovered their work in the Dark Horse Conan comics, they’re strip, The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob appears in every issue of the Robert E. Howard comics, usually at the bottom of the letters column.
Jim and Ruth were kind enough to allow me to use their unpublished painting of Niord and the Worm on the episode title card. As usual, I think the two completely nailed it. You can see more of their work on their Two-Gun Blog.
The Valley of the Worm is one of Howard’s James Allison reincarnation tales. I previously discussed “Marchers of Valhalla”, another James Allison story in a previous Pulp Crazy episode. The Valley of the Worm has a dying and depressed James Allison recalling his past life as a warrior. In this tale, he is Niorm, later referred to as Niorm Worm-bane, an Aesir warrior. It seems like The Valley of the Worm may take place during the Hyborian Age or possible following it.
The tale begins with Niord and his tribe traveling south into Africa. In Africa they come across a clan of Picts who have migrated there as well. The two groups do battle, with the Aesir being victorious. In a rare moment of mercy, Niord spares a Pict named Grom. Grom recuperates with the Aesir, but eventually leaves to return to his tribe.
Purchase The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 1: Crimson Shadows: http://tinyurl.com/pbo6una
Read “The Valley of the Worm” at Project Gutenberg Australia: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0601791.txt
Jim & Ruth Keegan’s Two-Gun Blog: http://twogunblog.blogspot.com/
Read the Valley of the Worm comic book adaptation: http://swords-and-veeblefetzers.blogspot.com/2011/06/supernatural-thrillers-3-robert-e.html
Bloodstar at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodstar
The Valley of the Worm thread on the REH Forums: http://www.conan.com/invboard/index.php?showtopic=5283