HAWKS OF OUTREMER is a story in the Cormac Fitzgeoffrey series about a knight fighting in the Crusades. Cormac Fitzgeoffrey only appears in two of these tales: Hawks of Outremer and The Blood of Belshazzar, both written in 1930. In the latter, Cormac seeks help in rescuing his leader from barbarians even more fierce and evil than those that hold his friend captive.

First published in Oriental Stories (Spring 1931) after being accepted by that magazine in October 1930. “Outremer” (literally, “Oversea”) was what the Crusader states were often called.

Howard got $120 for HAWKS OF OUTREMER and in a letter to Harold Preece, circa 1930 he says:

I find tales of the East extremely fascinating, and am beginning to believe that the old, old theory of Turkish-Gaelic affinity is well borne out. The races have much in common — cruelty, treachery, loyalty, fatalism, spend-thriftiness, berserk fighting rage, a love of music and poetry.

I lately sold a tale to Oriental Stories in which I created the most somber character I have yet attempted. The story is called “Hawks of Outremer,” and I got $120 for it. The character is Cormac FitzGeoffrey: “Clean shaven and the various scars that showed on his dark, grim face lent his already formidable features a truly sinister aspect. His low, broad forehead was topped by black, square cut hair that contrasted strongly with his cold blue eyes. Son of a woman of the O’Briens and a renegade Norman knight, Goeffrey the Bastard, in whose veins, it is said, coursed the blood of William the Conqueror, Cormac had seldom known an hour’s peace or ease in all his thirty years of violent life. Hated by the Irish and despised by the Normans he had payed back contempt and ill treatment with savage hate and ruthless vengeance.”

One of the main things I like about Farnsworth Wright’s magazines is you don’t have to make your heroes such utter saints. I took Cormac FitzGeoffrey into the East on a Crusade to escape his enemies and am considering writing a series of tales about him.

In a letter to Tevis Clyde Smith, circa November 1930 (letter #146), Howard says:

I quote from Farnsworth’s last letter: “‘The Voice of El-Lil’ is tied for first place with ‘Strange Bedfellows,’ in the letters and votes received so far for the first issue of Oriental Stories. This augurs well for the popularity of ‘Red Blades of Black Cathay’ and ‘Hawks of Outremer,’ which I think are much more striking.

Howard also mentioned ‘Hawks’ to Wilfred Blanch Talman, cirka April 1931 (letter #162):

P.S. I hope you liked my Crusading junk in the latest Oriental’s, though I have a feeling that it fell short of whatever vague standard I intended it for.

There is also an incomplete story called THE SLAVE-PRINCESS. This was later completed by Richard Tierney for the book Hawks of Outremer.

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Source and thanks:

Teaser art by Guillaume Sorel. Information from Howard Works and Wikipedia.