Cover art for Almuric by Ken Kelly

Almuric is a science fiction novel by American writer Robert E. Howard. It was originally serialized in three parts in the magazine Weird Tales beginning in May 1939. The novel was first published in book form in 1964 by Ace Books.

The novel features a muscular hero known on earth as Esau Cairn, a complete misfit in modern America who “belongs in a simpler age”. Exploited by a corrupt political boss whom he finally kills with his bare hands, Cairn must flee. A sympathetic scientist helps him get through space to a world known as Almuric, by unspecified scientific methods. There he finds a life to which he is more fitted, encountering both frightening monsters as well as beautiful women. Cairn becomes known as Iron Hand due to his powerful punches and boxing skills. The novel shares similar elements with the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Esau is the name of a Biblical character who is depicted as a wild, restless hunter – thus a fitting name for Howard’s character.


Almuric is a planetary romance penned in the Burroughsian style. Its hero is Esau Cairn, an old-fashioned boxer hopelessly incompatible with the modern American society. When a crooked politician tricks him into complicity, Cairn is overcome with blind rage and thrashes the politician to death. Realizing there is no future for him on the planet Earth, Cairn asks help from a scientist friend, who teleports him to the recently-discovered alien planet of Almuric, a savage but habitable world in another universe.

Lone and naked, Cairn must gather and hunt his food and battle various bizarre animals. Eventually he stumbles upon the native people of Almuric, the Guras, who are hairy, ape-like men with a violent but pragmatic way of life. They live in great fortified cities and wage endless wars against each other, carbine and sword being their weapons of choice. Cairn begins to enjoy this new, simpler and truer existence, and his strength and fighting prowess earn him the nickname Ironhand.

The Gura women are not apish at all, but resemble human women; for the male Guras endure all hardships and evolved to be powerful and animalistic, while female Guras are shielded from hardship and evolved to be soft and beautiful. Cairn falls in love with a beautiful Gura female Altha, whose temperament and worldview are the most human-like of all Guras.

Yagas are a black-skinned race of winged men, and sempiternal enemies of the Guras. Every now and then they raid Gura cities in the search of new slaves to torture and cannibalize. Cairn and Altha are captured by Yagas and taken to their “black citadel of Yugga, on the rock Yuthla, by the river of Yogh, in the land of Yagg”. The Yaga queen Yasmeena attempts to seduce Cairn, who declines and escapes. Discovering a secret tunnel unknown to most Yagas, Cairn returns to the Guras and persuades them to stop infighting and unites them against a common enemy.

Cairn leads a combined army of Gura warriors to Yugga through the secret tunnel, taking the Yagas by surprise. Seeing her people defeated, Yasmeena unleashes “the ultimate horror”, a monstrous slug with dozens of spark-emitting and flame-flashing tentacles, but Cairn manages to defeat the abomination. The surviving Gura warriors, as well as 50,000 freed slave-women, return to the Gura homeland. Cairn takes Altha as his wife. The two decide to do what they can to pacify the quarrelsome Gura, making life on Almuric somewhat more civilized.

Wait... Howard didn't finish this tale?

This story was published after Howard’s death and Howard never finished or submitted it himself. It has been speculated who wrote the last part of the story. Otis Adelbert Kline had two drafts, one with 117 pages and one with 134. It had no title.

It may have been Otis Adelbart Kline or perhaps Otto Binder who worked for Kline at the time he (Kline) sold Almuric to Wright. Kline continued as Howard’s literary agent after Howard’s death. Binder went on to write SciFi novels and used terms like “carbine” wich can be found only in the last chapters of Almuric and nowhere else in what Howard wrote. It appears Binder may have worked from a detailed synopsis left by Howard and added his chapters to REH’s actual text.


  • Esau Cairn (Ironhand) – The protagonist, a man from Earth who ends up on Almuric due to a scientific experiment. Known as Ironhand among the Kothans.
  • Thab the Swift – A warrior of Koth, initially guards Esau and later becomes somewhat of a guide and ally.
  • Khossuth Skullsplitter – Chief of the Kothan tribe, a significant leader and warrior.
  • Altha – A woman of Koth who shows interest in Esau and becomes a pivotal character in his adventures.
  • Ghor the Bear – A formidable warrior known for his strength and brutality in combat.
  • Yasmeena – Queen of the Night, a powerful and feared leader in the Black City of Yugga.
  • Gotrah – Yasmeena’s major-domo, who is involved in managing her court and prisoners.
  • Zal the Thrower – A warrior of Koth, mentioned in connection with his daughter being held captive.
  • Gutchluk Tigerwrath – A Kothan warrior involved in decision-making and battles.
  • Yagas – A race of winged black men, considered devils by the Guras, who raid and enslave the Guras.
  • Logar the Bonecrusher – Chief of Thugra, another city on Almuric, known for his fearsome combat skills.
  • Professor Hildebrand – The scientist who invents the machine that transports Esau Cairn to Almuric.

Comic books:

In 1980, Marvel Comic’s magazine Epic Illustrated also published a comic book version of the story, a limited series in four parts written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Tim Conrad over issues #2-5. 

It was later reprinted in graphic album form by Dark Horse Comics in 1991, and a 4 issue sequel was done by Dark Horse Comics: Ironhand of Almuric.

Audio book:

An audio book by The Eldritch Archives. A channel dedicated to video essays and analysis about literature, film, and art.

Published in:

Source: Wikipedia. Many of the links go to Howard Works, The Swords of Conan forum. Thanks to Mathieu Gagnon for providing additional information.