THE TREASURES OF TARTARY. Sold for $50 and when Kline Agency had their share, Howard earned $42.50. It was published in Thrilling Adventures in January 1935.

Kirby O’Donnell is an American treasure hunter, created by Howard, in early-twentieth-century Afghanistan disguised as a Kurdish merchant, “Ali el Ghazi”. Howard only wrote three stories about O’Donnell, one of which was not published within his lifetime.

O’Donnell searches the forbidden city of Shahrazar, ruled by the Uzbek Shaibar Khan, for the lost treasure of Khuwarezm (which, legend states, was hidden to protect it from Genghis Khan).

One situation which Howard liked to use was the American hero in the Middle East. In the opening paragraph of “Treasures of Tartary,” it is Kirby O’Donnell who finds himself plunging into the middle of a battle in a dark alley in Shahrazar. Though O’Donnell is an American, he dresses like an Arab, is fluent in their languages, and is burned so dark by the sun that he can pass for a native, which he does in this story. None of the other characters are aware of his true identity. Yet Howard frequently refers to O’Donnell as “the American,” reminding the reader that O’Donnell is an outsider, someone who despite his appearance will always be a Westerner and not truly a part of the surroundings in which he finds himself.

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From the letters:

In a letter (#323) to Clark Ashton Smith, on July 23, 1935:

I’ve been concentrating on adventure stuff recently, trying to break into that field permanently. I’ve made a start, with yarns published in Action, Thrilling Adventures, and Top-Notch; got a couple of cover designs in a row with Top-Notch and am toiling manfully to become a regular contributor.

A Breckinridge Elkins story appeared in each issue of Action Stories from the March-April 1934 issue through September 1936. “The Treasures of Tartary” appeared in the January 1935 issue of Thrilling Adventures; there would be no other Howard stories in the magazine until “Son of the White Wolf” in December 1936. Four Howard stories appeared in Top-Notch: “Swords of Shahrazar,” October 1934; “The Daughter of Erlik Khan,” December 1934; “Hawk of the Hills,” June 1935; and “Blood of the Gods,” July 1935. The last two were featured in the cover illustration. No further Howard stories appeared in the magazine.

A letter (#333) to Otis Adelbert Kline, January 8, 1936:

Concerning Thrilling Adventures, my yarn, “The Trail of the Blood-Stained God” recently rejected by Margulies was an effort to write one on the order of “Gold From Tartary”. I seem unable to sell him more than one story to each magazine.

The Kirby O’Donnell stories; “Gold from Tartary” was published in the January 1935 Thrilling Adventures as “The Treasures of Tartary,” while “The Trail of the Blood-Stained God” remained unsold during Howard’s lifetime. Leo Margulies was the editor of the Standard Magazines, which included Thrilling Adventures and Thrilling Mystery.

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