Tigers of the Sea. This is only a fragment and the story was unpublished and unfinished during Howard’s lifetime. The story was first published by Grant in Tigers of the Sea in 1974 and Richard Tierney completed it based on what Howard had written.

This unfinished story by Robert E. Howard blends historical fiction with Viking elements, showcasing his ability to create compelling narratives with rich characters and thrilling action.

This is one of a handful of short stories Howard wrote about yet another in his large clan of ferocious Irish warriors. Cormac Mac Art is an outlawed Gael, a pirate, and a Reiver. He is very similar to Turlogh O’Brien.

The story

“Tigers of the Sea” is a gripping tale of adventure and warfare set in the tumultuous backdrop of early medieval Britain. The story revolves around the efforts of King Gerinth of Britain to rescue his sister, Princess Helen, who has been kidnapped by unknown assailants. Gerinth enlists the aid of two formidable and contrasting warriors: Wulfhere the Skull-splitter, a fierce Viking chieftain known for his brutality in battle, and Cormac Mac Art, a cunning and skilled Gaelic warrior with a deep understanding of strategy and guile.

The narrative unfolds with the abduction of Princess Helen, prompting King Gerinth to seek help. Wulfhere and Cormac, each renowned for their unique combat skills and leadership, are approached to undertake the mission to find and rescue the princess. Wulfhere, a giant of a man with a fiery beard and a fierce reputation, is known for his raw strength and ferocity in battle. Cormac, on the other hand, is described as tall, rangy, and tiger-like, with exceptional swordsmanship that makes him nearly invincible in combat.

Together with Conal the minstrel, who plays a key role in orchestrating the mission, they embark on a perilous journey. Their search leads them to confront various adversaries, including the savage Angles, who pose a significant threat to the British kingdom. The warriors engage in a series of battles, displaying their prowess and tactical intelligence, and the story is filled with vivid descriptions of combat and strategy.

Throughout their journey, Wulfhere and Cormac encounter various challenges and enemies, including the treacherous Norse and Pictish tribes. They navigate through a landscape marked by political intrigue, warfare, and the struggle for power in a land fractured by the fall of the Roman Empire and the ensuing chaos.

In their quest, the duo also encounters Sigrel, a renegade Norseman, and Hrut, a giant Dane, who join them in their mission. The story weaves through various settings, from the rugged coasts of Britain to the mysterious lands inhabited by the Picts, presenting a rich tapestry of early medieval life.

The tale is marked by Howard’s characteristic style of robust storytelling, blending historical elements with mythical overtones. The narrative is rich in action, with Howard’s vivid descriptions bringing to life the brutal and tumultuous world of early medieval Britain.

In summary, “Tigers of the Sea” is a tale of heroism, loyalty, and the relentless pursuit of justice in a world of warriors and ancient codes of honor. It is a story that captures the essence of early medieval warfare and the legendary figures who shaped the history and myths of that era.


  • King Gerinth: Ruler concerned about his sister, Princess Helen.
  • Princess Helen: The kidnapped sister of King Gerinth.
  • Wulfhere the Skull-splitter: A fierce Viking chieftain known for his battle prowess. He is described as a red-bearded giant and is the leader of his Viking crew.
  • Cormac Mac Art: Wulfhere’s strategic right-hand man, noted for his cunning and skill in battle. A Gael of Erin by birth, Cormac is adept with a sword and has a history of leading Irish reavers.
  • Donal of the Harp: Another minstrel who helps in recruiting Wulfhere and Cormac for the mission. Donal is known for his wandering nature and has a broad knowledge of the sea kings.
  • Marcus: A noble of Roman descent, betrothed to Princess Helen. He joins the mission to rescue her, showcasing bravery and combat skills.
  • Hrut: A Viking under Wulfhere’s command, noted for his loyalty and strength. He assists Cormac during a dangerous mission but meets a fatal end.
  • Sigrel: A renegade Norseman living among the Scots, who recognizes Cormac and reveals his true identity, leading to a chaotic chase.
  • Thorleif Hordi’s son: A Norse reaver who holds Princess Helen in the Hebrides. He becomes the main target for the rescue mission.
  • Halfgar Wolf’s-tooth: A Jutish warrior who survives a sea battle with Wulfhere’s crew and later vows enmity against Wulfhere.
  • Rudd Thorwald: A Jutish sea rover and a lifelong enemy of Wulfhere. He appears later in the story, where his ship, the Fire-Woman, engages in a fierce sea battle with Wulfhere’s crew. Rudd Thorwald is a formidable and important adversary in the narrative.

Some explanation of words

The terms Angles, Jutes, and Saxons refer to distinct but related Germanic tribes that played a significant role in the history of Britain, particularly in the Early Middle Ages.

  • Angles: The Angles were one of the main Germanic peoples who settled in Britain during the 5th century. Their name is the root of the term “Anglo-Saxon” and “England” (land of the Angles). They primarily settled in the north and east of England, with their language, Old English, forming the basis of modern English.
  • Jutes: The Jutes were another Germanic tribe, believed to have originated from the Jutland Peninsula (currently divided between Denmark and Germany). They are known for their maritime skills and are thought to have been among the first Germanic settlers in Britain, occupying areas such as Kent, the Isle of Wight, and parts of Hampshire. Their influence is evident in various place names and cultural aspects in these regions.
  • Saxons: The Saxons, originating from what is now Northern Germany, were a significant Germanic tribe. They settled extensively in the south of England, giving their name to the region of “Saxony” in Germany and playing a major role in the formation of the Anglo-Saxon identity in Britain. The Saxons, alongside the Angles and Jutes, were instrumental in the cultural and linguistic development of England during the Early Middle Ages.

The history of these groups is intertwined with the Roman withdrawal from Britain and the subsequent cultural transformations that led to the establishment of several Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The period marked by their settlement and influence is known as the Anglo-Saxon period, lasting from approximately 450 to 1066 AD, until the Norman Conquest.

This migration and settlement had a profound impact on the culture, language, and social structure of Britain, with remnants of their influence still visible in modern British society.

For more detailed information, you can visit Wikipedia’s pages on the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons.

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