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By Paul Finch

Craeghatir: a lonely rock, a ways out at the northernmost tip of england; the nearest element of land to it, the wild, storm-ravaged Cape Wrath. to name this position bleak is the understatement of a life-time. large cliffs dominate its beaches, yet inside of there are eco-friendly tracks linking mystery valleys the place tumuli are available, old megaliths and the bones of prehistoric mammals lengthy grown over with moss. The island is now uninhabited and when it comes to this good looks and silence, it really is a superb locale - notwithstanding few sightseers ever enterprise there willingly, for Craeghatir has an evil acceptance. Professor Jo Mercy of Warwick University's elite archaeological unit doesn't think the rumours and is eager to enquire a newly-discovered barrow at the island which would comprise the continues to be of Ivar Ragnarsson, might be the main notorious of all Viking chieftains. Ragnarrson used to be reputed to be berserkir - a warrior possessed with the wolf-spirit, whose insanity carried him earlier all ache and cause within the warmth of conflict, and whose sufferers have been deemed choices to the wolf-god Fenrir. yet Mercy and her crew will locate themselves confronted with greater than simply the inhospitibal surroundings on Craeghatir, because the spirit of Ragnarrson is disturbed and dying and insanity come to the island.

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Her supple limbs were stiff from her long ride, and her firm flesh still seemed to feel the contact of the muscular arms that had borne her so far. She was lying on a sheepskin covering a pallet of leaves on a hard-beaten dirt floor. A folded sheepskin coat was under her head, and she was wrapped in a ragged cloak. She was in a large room, the walls of which were crudely but strongly built of uncut rocks, plastered with sun-baked mud. Heavy beams supported a roof of the same kind, in which showed a trap-door up to which led a ladder.

The reins lay loose on the stallion’s flowing mane, and every thew and fiber of the great beast strained as he hurtled along the boulder-strewn trail. But Conan sat easily, almost carelessly, in the saddle, riding like a centaur. ” she panted, quivering with the impact of shame, anger and the realization of helplessness. “You dare – you dare! Your life shall pay for this! ” “To the villages of Afghulistan,” he answered, casting a glance over his shoulder. Behind them, beyond the slopes they had traversed, torches were tossing on the walls of the fortress and he glimpsed a flare of light that meant the great gate had been opened.

I thought of that afternoon and the thrill came rushing over me. The power of images. The book, of course, was Conan the Adventurer by Robert E. Howard and the cover was painted by Frank Frazetta. It was my introduction to Howard’s fictional barbarian. That was a long time ago and many talented artists have portrayed Conan’s adventures. I was content to stand aside and enjoy their work but the opportunity presented itself after I had illustrated two of the other great Robert E. Howard heroes – Solomon Kane and Bran Mak Morn.

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