This story was originally written in 1929, titled ‘The Blue Flame of Vengeance’, and featured Solomon Kane. Howard failed to sell it, perhaps because it had no weird element, and hence WEIRD TALES would likely not take it. Howard rewrote it in 1932, changing the hero to Malachi Grim, changing the title to ‘Blades of the Brotherhood’, and shortening the story by a couple of pages. There is no record to show to which magazines this story was offered, if any. 

‘The Blue Flame of Vengeance’ is the original title of this REH story featuring Solomon Kane. John Pocsik rewrote the story adding a weird element that was published under this name. Subsequent publishings of the REH-only version, use the title “Blades of the Brotherhood,” which was originally the title of a story featuring Malachi Grim. An earlier REH draft of ‘The Blue Flame of Vengeance’ was titled ‘The Blue Flame of Death.’

See also: Blades of the Brotherhood (1).

“Blades of the Brotherhood” is a historical adventure tale by Robert E. Howard that dives into themes of honor, vengeance, and the unyielding codes of conduct among duelists and pirates. Set against a rugged coastal backdrop, this story encapsulates a fierce personal conflict intertwined with broader issues of morality and justice.


The story opens with a heated duel between Jack Holland and Sir George Blanard, stemming from a personal insult. They are interrupted by Sir Rupert d’Arcy, the local magistrate, who demands they cease fighting. Despite a minor wound, Sir George insists on continuing, reflecting his deep-seated hostility towards Jack.

As tensions simmer, the setting—a bleak, coastal area—underscores the story’s grim tone. The duel’s interruption leaves unresolved issues, leading Jack to publicly warn Sir George of future retribution, hinting at ongoing enmity tied to Jack’s betrothed, Ellen Garvin, whom Sir George has dishonored.

The narrative then shifts to Jack’s solitary walk along the beach, where he encounters Malachi Grim, a somber figure whose reputation and mysterious demeanor add a layer of intrigue. Malachi’s introduction suggests his own quest for vengeance, linking him thematically to Jack.

In a dramatic turn, Ellen is kidnapped by Sir George, leveraging a forged note from Jack. This act escalates the conflict, prompting a desperate rescue attempt by Jack, aided by Sam, a stableman from the local tavern with his own grudges against Sir George.

Jack’s rescue mission turns into a trap, leading to his capture in Sir George’s cellar, where he discovers a gathering of pirates plotting nefarious deeds. Amidst the chaos, Malachi Grim reappears, initiating a daring and violent rescue.

The climax unfolds with Malachi and Jack confronting the pirates, culminating in a deadly showdown that underscores themes of justice and retribution. Malachi’s pivotal role in defeating the pirates and Sir George, who is revealed to be protected by chainmail, ties back to his initial quest for vengeance.

As the story concludes, the house set aflame signifies the pirates’ final act of defiance, while the community’s arrival to extinguish the fire symbolizes a return to order. Malachi’s departure, shrouded in mystery, leaves an enduring impact on Jack and Ellen, now safe but forever changed by their ordeal.


  • Jack Holland The protagonist, engaged to Ellen Garvin. He is involved in a bitter feud with Sir George Blanard over an insult concerning Ellen. He is brave and driven by a strong sense of justice and honor.
  • Sir George Blanard: The main antagonist, a nobleman deeply involved in piracy and dishonorable acts. He has wronged Ellen Garvin and is in conflict with Jack Holland, which drives the narrative’s central conflict.
  • Ellen Garvin: Jack Holland’s betrothed. She becomes a central figure in the conflict due to Sir George’s actions against her, leading to her kidnapping and subsequent rescue.
  • Sir Rupert d’Arcy: The local magistrate who intervenes in the initial duel between Jack Holland and Sir George Blanard, attempting to uphold law and order.
  • Malachi Grim: A mysterious and imposing figure seeking vengeance for past betrayals in the pirate community. His past and motivations unfold as he plays a pivotal role in the story’s climax and resolution.
  • Sam (Stableman): A character who aids Jack in his attempt to rescue Ellen. He has personal grievances against Sir George and acts as an ally to Jack.
  • Jonas Hardraker (The Fishhawk): A notorious pirate captain, known for his ruthlessness. He is a target of Malachi Grim’s quest for vengeance due to previous betrayals.
  • Jem Allardyne: A pirate and associate of Jonas Hardraker, involved in the planning and execution of pirate activities. He participates in crucial decisions regarding Ellen and the pirates’ strategies.
  • Dick Randal: Mentioned as a close friend of Jack Holland, who provides him support and advice during the feud with Sir George.
  • Bristol Tom: A pirate, one of the crew members associated with the pirate activities led by Jonas Hardraker.

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