Howard’s lean, galloping prose always cuts to the action. Yet trademark themes — such as memories of previous incarnations or encounters with the primordial — regularly elicit moody reflections on the vanity of human wishes or lead to the tender wistfulness of that consummate tear-jerker, “For the Love of Barbara Allen.” By contrast, in “The Black Stone,” Howard deftly pastiches the antiquarian sententiousness of his pen pal H.P. Lovecraft. Perhaps his most famous single sentence, however, occurs in “Red Shadows,” the first of the eerie adventures of Solomon Kane, a dour 16th-century Puritan avenger, who sleeps with his weapons buckled on him. After hearing the last words of a violated girl, Kane quietly declares, “Men shall die for this.” His vow ultimately takes him into the sorcery-filled African jungles.