“Khoda Khan’s Tale” weaves a vibrant tapestry of adventure featuring El Borak’s daring exploits in the rugged terrains of Afghanistan. This narrative captures his leadership and the loyalty he inspires among diverse groups, from Afridi tribesmen to Zulu warriors, as they undertake perilous journeys across continents.

“Khoda Khan’s Tale” features El Borak and is a short story by Howard. First printed in English in the chapbook The Coming of El Borak (September 1987), it was not published in Howard’s lifetime.


The story recounts a series of adventures led by the American Gordon, known among the Moslems as El Borak, as he engages with various tribes and overcomes formidable challenges across Asia and Africa. El Borak returns to the village of Kadar in Afghanistan where he previously rescued Marion Sommerland, aligning himself with local chieftain Kulam Khan, thanks to his earlier acts of valor.

El Borak, older yet still youthful, wins the trust and admiration of Yar Ali Khan, who boasts of riches gained under El Borak’s leadership. Despite opposition from Darza Shah who aspires to chieftainship, El Borak successfully recruits nineteen Afridi warriors, including Khoda Khan, for a raid into a distant land, promising them weapons and a share of any spoils.

The journey is fraught with challenges. They navigate through territories filled with hostile tribes and wild animals, crossing the landscape from Bombay to Madagascar and onward to the African jungles. Throughout these ordeals, El Borak’s leadership remains unchallenged, his decisions respected by his diverse followers who trust his judgment implicitly.

However, tensions arise with an Arab named Hassan ibn Zaroud who proposes a joint venture to capture slaves and ivory. El Borak cleverly avoids the alliance by questioning Zaroud’s intentions, showcasing his moral stance against exploitation.

As they continue their arduous trek, El Borak and his men encounter various tribes—some hostile, some friendly. They deal with threats and establish alliances with local leaders, securing safe passage and gathering resources necessary for survival and for their journey.


  • El Borak (Gordon): American adventurer, known as El Borak in the East, leader of the expedition, revered for his wisdom, courage, and leadership.
  • Khoda Khan: Afridi tribesman, narrates the tale, loyal follower of El Borak, participates actively in various combats and strategic discussions.
  • Yar Ali Khan: Afridi chieftain, praises El Borak’s leadership, participates in the raid and supports El Borak throughout the journey.
  • Kulam Khan: Chieftain of Kadar, owes his position to El Borak’s past actions, shows gratitude by welcoming El Borak and his men.
  • Darza Shah: Local rival in Kadar, opposes El Borak’s recruitment of warriors for the raid.
  • Hassan ibn Zaroud: Arab adventurer, proposes an unethical alliance to El Borak, ultimately rejected due to his dubious motives.
  • Umgazi: A Matabele warrior who joins El Borak’s group, demonstrates bravery and loyalty throughout the narrative.

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