Introduction

“The Land of Mystery” is an unfinished tale of adventure and exploration set in the uncharted wilds of Africa, penned by Robert E. Howard. The story unfolds through the narrative of Gordon, an intrepid explorer who recounts his solitary journey into the heart of Africa, facing not only the natural elements and wildlife but also encountering mysterious tribes and ancient secrets hidden within the continent’s depths.

Steve Allison is also in the story, another of Howard’s characters. Today we would probably call them crossovers. Never published in Howard’s lifetime.

Summary

Gordon, the protagonist, begins his story among friends, sharing the perils he faced after being abandoned by his porters and askaris deep in the African jungle. With limited ammunition and only melee weapons at his disposal, he ventures onward rather than retreating. His journey leads him through various landscapes, from dense jungles to desolate deserts and vibrant savannas, each presenting its own set of challenges and discoveries.

In the savanna, Gordon encounters the Shansai, a tribe of exceptional horsemen who have never seen a white man. Despite initial hostilities, he gains their trust and learns of their constant conflicts with neighboring tribes and mysterious beings from the mountains. These beings are described as fierce and come from the jungle to raid the villages, sparking Gordon’s interest further.

Driven by tales of a savage race and haunted mountains, Gordon leaves the Shansai village to explore deeper. He navigates through a perilous jungle where he faces and overcomes a gorilla in a dramatic confrontation. Further into his journey, he encounters the Balingas, a less civilized tribe, with whom he clashes but escapes by utilizing his quick wit and survival skills.

The narrative escalates as Gordon discovers signs of ancient, possibly prehistoric life deep within the forest, suggesting a land forgotten by time where dinosaurs still roam. His explorations lead him to a haunted city among the mountains, filled with relics of a lost civilization. Here, Gordon encounters a captive white woman, hinting at deeper mysteries and darker secrets awaiting him in this ancient land.

Characters

  • Frank Gordon: The main protagonist and narrator, an explorer recounting his adventurous journey through uncharted African territories.
  • Steve Allison: One of Gordon’s companions, listening eagerly to the tale.
  • Omar Bey: Another listener, particularly impressed by the craftsmanship of a dagger Gordon acquired.
  • Yar Ali Khan: A listener who is intrigued by the exotic and dangerous aspects of Gordon’s story.
  • Abdul el Kadour: A listener who questions Gordon about his adventures and decisions during the journey.
  • Shansai Tribe: A tribe of skilled horsemen who befriend Gordon. They provide him with insights into the local geography and the threats posed by neighboring tribes and mysterious mountain dwellers.
  • Balingas: A warlike tribe that Gordon encounters; less advanced and more aggressive than the Shansai.
  • Captive White Woman: A mysterious and seemingly out-of-place figure who Gordon finds in the haunted city. Her origins and how she came to be there are not detailed, adding to the story’s mysterious aura.

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