THE COMING OF EL BORAK is an El Borak short story by Robert E. Howard. First printed in English in the chapbook The Coming of El Borak (September 1987), it was not published in Howard’s lifetime.

This unfinished tale narrates the adventures of Frank Gordon, also known as El Borak, among the fierce Afridi tribesmen. It unfolds in the rugged terrains near the British-Indian border, where Gordon’s exceptional combat skills and understanding of local customs place him in the middle of tribal conflicts and rescues.


“The Coming of El Borak” begins with Khoda Khan, an Afridi tribesman, recalling the events to a listener in Delhi. He contrasts the physical might of the tribesmen with the organizational and strategic strengths that allow the British to maintain control over India. Khoda Khan then delves into a tale involving mullah Hassan and Marion Sommerland, a British woman, set against the backdrop of tribal lawlessness and the British colonial presence.

Marion is kidnapped by Khoda Khan and his companions from her ride near the border for ransom, reflecting the lawlessness and audacity of the Afridi tribes. Despite their rough ways, the kidnappers are shown to have standards, as they protect her from more severe mistreatments and argue about her fate. The story vividly describes their journey back to the village of Kadar, their interactions with Marion, and the internal conflicts among the tribesmen about how to handle the situation.

The Afridi chief, Khumail Khan, and the village mullah both desire Marion for themselves, leading to a tense standoff in the village. The tribesmen who kidnapped her, led by Yar Ali Khan, resist the chief’s and the mullah’s demands, showing a complex mix of respect and protective instinct towards Marion. The mullah suggests keeping her under his care to convert her, which is just a ruse to gain possession of her.

Yar Ali Khan’s opposition is based on both personal principles and a strategic understanding of the situation, indicating his leadership qualities and moral code that distinguishes him from the typical depiction of tribal warriors. The story highlights the cultural and moral complexities within the Afridi society, which is often stereotyped as uniformly savage or primitive.

The narrative is unfinished, but it sets up a dramatic confrontation involving colonial powers, tribal factions, and individual characters caught in a web of power, honor, and intrigue.


  • Frank Gordon (El Borak): A central figure, known as El Borak, an American with a deep understanding of the Orient and tribal dynamics.
  • Khoda Khan: The narrator of the story, an Afridi tribesman involved in the kidnapping of Marion Sommerland.
  • Yar Ali Khan: A prominent member of the kidnapping group, known for his combat skills and strong moral principles. He becomes a protector of Marion.
  • Abdullah Din: Another tribesman involved in the kidnapping, represents darker aspects of the group, eventually killed due to his intentions towards Marion.
  • Mahommed Ali: Part of the kidnapping group, involved in negotiating ransom and dealing with the British.
  • Yar Hyder: Another member of the group, older and experienced, involved in the decision-making regarding Marion’s fate.
  • Mullah Hassan: The religious leader of the village who has his designs on Marion, using his religious authority to influence the situation.
  • Khumail Khan: The chief of the village, who desires Marion and the ransom, representing the tribal leadership’s often corrupt and power-hungry nature.
  • Marion Sommerland: The kidnapped British woman, daughter of a colonel, whose presence and situation highlight the cultural and power conflicts between the British and the Afridis.
  • Colonel Sommerland: Marion’s father, representing the British colonial military presence, indirectly involved through his reactions and decisions regarding his daughter’s kidnapping.

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Artwork for the teaser-image: Guillaume Sorel