Cover of the first edition
|Author||Robert E. Howard|
|Cover artist||Tim Kirk|
|Series||Cormac Mac Art|
|Publisher||Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc.|
|Media type||Print (hardback)|
Tigers of the Sea is a collection of fantasy short stories by Robert E. Howard about the pirate Cormac Mac Art, a Gael who joins a band of Danish Vikings during the reign of King Arthur. (Historically, Cormac Mac Art is the name of a famous High King of Ireland, but among the many legends told of him there is no reference to him having been a pirate.)
Robert Ervin Howard was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is well known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre.
King Arthur was a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. The sparse historical background of Arthur is gleaned from various sources, including the Annales Cambriae, the Historia Brittonum, and the writings of Gildas. Arthur's name also occurs in early poetic sources such as Y Gododdin.
The High Kings of Ireland were sometimes historical and sometimes legendary figures who had, or who are claimed to have had, lordship over the whole of Ireland for centuries.
Tigers of the Sea was first published in 1973 by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. in an edition of 3,400 copies. The stories feature Howard's character Cormac Mac Art; the volume was edited by Richard L. Tierney.
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1973.
Richard Louis Tierney is an American writer, poet and scholar of H. P. Lovecraft. He is the coauthor of a series of Red Sonja novels, featuring cover art by Boris Vallejo. Some of his standalone novels utilize the mythology of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
Except for one, the stories are pure historical fiction, dealing with struggles between various groups of human beings waged by mundane human weapons. The exception is "The Temple of Abomination", in which Cormac Mac Art and his Viking fellows defeat the very last of the monstrous Serpent Men, whom King Kull fought in the much earlier Howardian cycle.
Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Although the term is commonly used as a synonym for the historical novel, it can also be applied to other types of narrative, including theatre, opera, cinema and television, as well as video games and graphic novels.
Serpent Men are a fictional race created by Robert E. Howard for his King Kull tales. They first appeared in "The Shadow Kingdom," published in Weird Tales in August 1929.
The stories of Cormac Mac Art were also printed by Baen Books in 1995. This edition included the same stories from Tigers of the Sea with an additional new story, "The Land Towards Sunset", published by author David Drake
Baen Books is an American publishing house for science fiction and fantasy. In science fiction, it emphasizes space opera, hard science fiction, and military science fiction. The company was established in 1983 by science fiction publisher and editor Jim Baen. After his death in 2006, he was succeeded as publisher by long-time executive editor Toni Weisskopf.
David Drake is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now a writer in the military science fiction genre.
Originally, Cormac Mac Art (nicknamed an Cluiun - "The Wolf") was a member of the Irish Reivers - bold pirates who range far among the ruins of the Roman Empire, reaching Spain and on occasion even Egypt, though their ships are less sound than those of the Scandinavian Vikings. Usually, Reivers and Vikings are on bad terms with each other - being competitors for the same loot.
However, at one point, Cormac Mac Art (for unspecified reasons) became an outlaw and had to leave Ireland in a hurry. Soon, he found refuge and a new home among the Danish Vikings led by Wulfhere the Skull-Splitter. He became Wulfhere's right hand man, the two of them complementing each other and working harmoniously together.
The giant Wulfhere is a bellicose and formidable fighter, quite deserving of his nickname. He is impetuous, easily roused, and on bad terms with most of the other Viking leaders - though not overtly cruel and capable at times of surprising compassion. Cormac Mac Art, though a formidable swordsman in his own right when in need, is a more subtle man: well-informed on the affairs of the numerous kingdoms, tribes, and factions inhabiting the turbulent British Islands and beyond. He's also a fluent speaker of many languages, a competent spy able to infiltrate enemy strongholds, and the originator of complicated or intricate plots. Cormac has many enemies, Irish as well as Scandinavian, who would dearly love to put an end to his career - but he manages to elude them, again and again.
Wulfhere appreciates Cormac's advice and mostly follows it, while Cormac accepts Wulfhere's leadership of the band and has no intention of challenging it. Together, they go through many dangerous adventures and emerge from various near-fatal traps.
Like most Irish people of his time, Cormac is a Pagan, a staunch believer of the Druidic religion, and his opinion towards Christianity is far from positive - though in "The Temple of Abomination" he (like his Danish fellows) comes to respect the courage and dedication of a Christian priest whom they save from the monstrous snake-man.
A druid was a member of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures. Perhaps best remembered as religious leaders, they were also legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals, and political advisors. While the druids are reported to have been literate, they are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form, thus they left no written accounts of themselves. They are however attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans and the Greeks.
Andrew Offutt continued Cormac Mac Art's adventures beyond where Howard left off, writing no less than six such novels (some of them in collaboration with Keith Taylor).
In The Temple of Abomination Cormac tells his Danish companions about King Arthur - a view significantly different from that seen in the Arthurian legends.
"... most of the chiefs are gathering about Arthur Pendragon for a great concerted drive. Pendragon — ha! He's no more Uther Pendragon's son than you [Wulfhere] are. Uther was a black-bearded madman — more Roman than Briton and more Gaul than Roman. Arthur is as fair as Eric here. And he's pure Celt — a waif from one of the wild western tribes that never bowed to Rome. It was Lancelot who put it into his head to make himself king — else he had still been no more than a wild chief raiding the borders."
"Has he become smooth and polished like the Romans were?"
"Arthur? Ha! One of your Danes might seem a gentlewoman beside him. He's a shock-headed savage with a love for battle." Cormac grinned ferociously and touched his scars. "By the blood of the gods, he has a hungry sword! It's little gain we reivers from Erin have gotten on his coasts!"
"Would I could cross steel with him," grunted Wulfhere, thumbing the flaring edge of his great axe. "What of Lancelot?"
"A renegade Gallo-Roman who has made an art of throat-cutting. He varies reading Petronius with plotting and intriguing. Gawaine is a pure-blooded Briton like Arthur, but he has Romanish leanings. You'd laugh to see him aping Lancelot — but he fights like a blood-hungry devil. Without those two, Arthur would have been no more than a bandit chief. He can neither read nor write."
"What of that?" rumbled the Dane. "Neither can I. ..."
Though Cormac obviously had some direct contact with Arthur and Lancelot before his exile from Ireland, they never appear onstage in the stories about him - most of which take place much further to the north, in the islands around Scotland. As depicted in the stories, in his own time Arthur and his court were not as much in the center of attention as the later myth would imply, since there was very much else going on in the British Islands. There were the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes pushing westwards against the Britons; further north, the Gaels pushing eastwards against the Picts; and pirates and rovers, Irish and Scandinavian, constantly raiding everybody. Each of these groups could at any moment come into conflict with any of the others, or burst into internecine conflict between different factions; especially, among the Scandinavian Vikings, there is a deep hatred and enmity between Danes and Norwegians. Alliances of convenience might also be formed from time to time - for example, Vikings are seen as occasionally forming alliances with Britons against the Saxons. Obviously, the Arthurian tales passed on to later generation would reflect only a small fraction of all these complicated conflicts occurring during Arthur's time.
Such an "outsider" view of King Arthur is very rare in the extensive Arthurian Literature, Medieval or Modern. Virtually the only other example of such an approach is Alfred Duggan's Conscience of the King , which tries to reconstruct how Arthur was seen by his Saxon foes.
Excalibur, or Caliburn, is the legendary sword of King Arthur, sometimes also attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Britain. Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are sometimes said to be the same weapon, but in most versions they are considered separate. Excalibur was associated with the Arthurian legend very early on. In Welsh, it is called Caledfwlch; in Cornish, Calesvol; in Breton, Kaledvoulc'h; and in Latin, Caliburnus.
Guinevere, often written as Guenevere or Guenever, is the wife and queen of King Arthur in the Arthurian legend. Guinevere has been portrayed as everything from a villainous and opportunistic traitor to a fatally flawed but noble and virtuous lady. She has first appeared in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, a pseudo-historical chronicle of British history written in the early 12th century, and continues to be a popular character in the modern adaptations of the legend.
Uther Pendragon, also known as King Uther, is a legendary king of sub-Roman Britain and the father of King Arthur. A few minor references to Uther appear in Old Welsh poems, but his biography was first written down by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia Regum Britanniae, and Geoffrey's account of the character was used in most later versions. He is a fairly ambiguous individual throughout the literature, but is described as a strong king and a defender of the people.
In the Matter of Britain, Igraine is the mother of King Arthur. She is also known in Latin as Igerna, in Welsh as Eigr, in French as Ygraine, in Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur as Ygrayne—often modernised as Igraine or Igreine—and in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival as Arnive. She becomes the wife of Uther Pendragon, but her first husband was Gorlois; her daughters by Gorlois are Elaine, Morgause and Morgan le Fay.
Excalibur is a 1981 American epic historical fantasy film directed, produced, and co-written by John Boorman that retells the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, based on the 15th-century Arthurian romance Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory. It stars Nigel Terry as Arthur, Nicol Williamson as Merlin, Nicholas Clay as Lancelot, Cherie Lunghi as Guenevere, Helen Mirren as Morgana, Liam Neeson as Gawain, Gabriel Byrne as Uther Pendragon, Corin Redgrave as Cornwall, and Patrick Stewart as Leondegrance. The film is named after the legendary sword of King Arthur that features prominently in Arthurian literature. The film's soundtrack features the music of Richard Wagner and Carl Orff, along with an original score by Trevor Jones.
Lot, Loth or Lothus is the king of Lothian, the realm of the Picts in the Arthurian legend. Such a ruler first appeared late in the 1st millennium's hagiographical material concerning Saint Kentigern, which feature a Leudonus, king of Leudonia, a Latin name for Lothian. In the 12th century, Geoffrey of Monmouth adapted this to Lot, king of Lothian, in his influential chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae, portraying him as King Arthur's brother-in-law and ally. In the wake of Geoffrey's writings, Lot appeared regularly in later romance.
King Arthur is a 2004 Irish-British-American historical adventure film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Franzoni. It stars Clive Owen as the title character, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot and Keira Knightley as Guinevere.
King Leodegrance, sometimes Leondegrance, Leodogran, or variations thereof, is the father of Queen Guinevere in Arthurian legend. His kingdom of Cameliard is usually identified with Cornwall but may be located in Breton Cornouaille near the town of Carhaix-Plouguer, which is the Carhaise of L'Histoire de Merlin.
Merlin is a 1998 television miniseries which originally aired on NBC that retells the legend of King Arthur from the perspective of the wizard Merlin.
Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country is a novel by Rosalind Miles, based on Arthurian legend. It chronicles the life of Queen Guenevere from her perspective, from childhood to the blossoming of her relationship with Lancelot.
The Mists of Avalon is a 2001 miniseries based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Produced by American cable channel TNT, adapted by Gavin Scott, and directed by Uli Edel, the series is a retelling of the Arthurian legend with an emphasis on the perspectives of Morgan le Fay and other women of the tale. The first episode was the highest-rated original movie on basic cable in the summer of 2001.
King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table is a Japanese anime series based on Arthurian legend. Produced by Toei Animation, the series consists of 30 half-hour episodes released between 9 September 1979 and 3 March 1980. The series achieved great popularity in its non-English translations.
Brunor, Breunor, Branor or Brunero is name given to several different characters in Arthurian legend. They include the Knight of the Round Table known as Br(e)unor le Noir, well known due to his tale having been included by Thomas Malory in his popular compilation Le Morte d'Arthur, as well as his father and others, among them another former knight of Uther's old Round Table and the father of Galahaut.
The Kingmaking is the first in the Pendragon's Banner trilogy of Arthurian novels by the British writer Helen Hollick. It was published in 1994 by William Heinemann in the United Kingdom. It was followed by Pendragon's Banner and Shadow of the King.
The Dragon Lord is a historical fantasy or sword and sorcery novel by American writer David Drake. First published in 1979 and revised in 1982, the novel is set in sixth century Arthurian Britain.
The Saxon Shore is a 1995 novel by Canadian writer Jack Whyte chronicling Caius Merlyn Britannicus's effort to return the baby Arthur to the colony of Camulod and the political events surrounding this. The book is a portrayal of the Arthurian Legend set against the backdrop of Post-Roman Britain's invasion by Germanic peoples. It is part of the A Dream of Eagles series, which attempts to explain the origins of the Arthurian legends against the backdrop of a historical setting. This is a deviation from other modern depictions of King Arthur such as Once and Future King and the Avalon series which rely much more on mystical and magical elements and less on the historical.
Merlin is a partially lost epic poem of the Arthurian legend in which the French knight-poet Robert de Boron reworked Geoffrey of Monmouth's material about the legendary figure of Merlin, writing in Old French sometime in either the late 12th or early 13th century. Together with Robert's other works, Joseph and Perceval, Merlin forms a trilogy centered around the Holy Grail.
The Sword and the Circle, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is a children's novel written by Rosemary Sutcliff and was first published in 1981. The story is a retelling of the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. According to her own statements in the introduction, The Sword and the Circle follows the myths and folktales of King Arthur, crediting inspiration primarily from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur; other sources include Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, English ballads, and Irish folktales. She contrasts this telling of the King Arthur story with her previous novels, The Lantern Bearers and Sword at Sunset, which were more an attempt to connect with a concrete historical figure behind the folktales.
Unholy Grail is a horror comic book series written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Mirko Colak, published by American company Aftershock Comics. The colorist is Maria Santaolalla, and the letterer is Simon Bowland.