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Book Review

Book Cover

Solomon Kane
The Official Movie Novelisation


Author: Ramsey Campbell
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 8485 6726 9
Available 19 February 2010

Solomon Kane has been steeped the blood of other men for as long as he can remember, but a meeting with the Devil's Reaper and the potential loss of his soul makes him re-examine his life. In an effort to save himself from the devil he commits himself to a monastery vowing never to harm another, a pact with god for the protection of his soul. But a dark force is spreading eastwards across the land and a chance meeting with a puritan family will change Solomon forever. No longer afraid, Solomon becomes God's avenger...

Solomon Kane is the novelisation of the film, written by Ramsey Campbell, based on the screenplay by Michael Bassett, which in turn was based on the original character created by Robert E. Howard.

It must have been, with more than a little delight, that Titan were able to secure Campbell to write this novelisation. Not only is he one of the best respected, multi award winner, writers of horror England has produced in the last fifty years, but he is also pretty much an expert on Solomon Kane having completed three surviving story fragments with Hawk of Basti, The Castle of the Devil and The Children of Asshur.

Solomon first appeared in 1928 in Red Shadows and for aficionados of this characters, the latest book and film is a Solomon’s origin story, something which Howard never got around to telling, which means you’re either going to love having another book or you’re going to hate the idea of someone rewriting history.

Solomon is a 16th Century, one man, fighting machine, who in the original novels travelled the land killing evil where ever he found it. In the latest book Solomon finally faces the fact that his own life has been steeped in evil for so long that the devil wants his due. At first he tries to hide from the world in a community of monks, carving symbols on his body, which he hopes will save him, but the monks eject him and Solomon finds a world very much changed. The forces of Malachi are killing and abducting everywhere, raising whole villages to the ground in their march of conquest. At first Solomon refuses to become involved until the daughter of the family which befriends him is captured and he makes a pact with god to get her back.

What follows is a pretty predicable fantasy plot, which if you haven’t seen the film I won’t spoil it for you.

Fantasy horror isn’t my preferred genre of book, but to have a master of the art write your movie tie in book elevates this above the competition. Campbell is able to effectively use his prose to describe a world covered in fear and evil. Flashbacks to Solomon’s youth explain how he became the man we first meet. The descriptions of the blighted countryside are rich and deep and Solomon is a creation with a believable character and a credible motivation for his actions.

In the end the book felt more like an original novel, rather than an adaptation of a screenplay. If the film is as good as the book it should be well worth seeing.


Charles Packer

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