The Coming of the Horseclans (Horseclans #1), by Robert Adams

The Coming of the Horseclans Horseclans 1, by Robert Adams book coverGenre: Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Roc
Published: 1975
Reviewer Rating: four stars
Book Review by David L. Felts

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The older I get, the more nostalgia I develop for the things of my youth. My friends and I were quite taken with the Horseclans books when we discovered them (early 1980s). My edition is a 1982 printing, not the 1975 original. Mundania Press re-released The Coming of the Horseclans in 2005, but no reprint of the rest yet. There’re 18 of them in all. I have the first 13 in my possession and will set about procuring the other 5.

Robert Adam (born in 1933 as Franklin Robert Adams) died in 1990. He was in the military and had a very strong interest in history, including medieval warfare and weapons, to the point of even plying a forge to make his own reproductions. His interest is evident in the details of his writing, which, while some readers might find overburdening at times, leaves no doubt as to his authority of the subject. His style is very action oriented and reminds me quite a bit of Robert Howard and his Conan stories. The violence can be pretty graphic at times.

I don’t know how popular the series was generally, but I suspect that with 3 million copies of the books in print, it must have had some commercial success.

Makes me wonder why there’s never been an effort to reprint them. Perhaps Adams’ wife (who, born in 1961, was considerably younger than her husband and is still living) has something to do with this. I do know I and my small circle of friends quite enjoyed them. They struck a chord with the neophyte RPG community of the day, and GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System) released a world book and solo adventure dedicated to and derived from the series.

In The Coming of the Horseclans, we’re introduced to Milo Morai, and immortal who comes from a time before the fall of civilization in some great holocaust some 600 years before that wiped out about 99 percent of the population. Milo has been wandering the world for a couple of centuries, seeking a fabled island rumored to be inhabited by others of his kind (called the Undying). His quest proved fruitless, and he decides to rejoin the Horseclans, a group of nomadic people he established from the survivors of the cataclysm in the Great Plains of the United States.

Prophecy told that the Horseclans would be united and led back to their promised land of Ehlai (formerly Los Angeles) by a great chief. Milo’s return heralds their departure from the high plains and their journey to the coast of America, where they plan to settle by the sea, giving up their nomadic ways.

The nomads don’t know one sea from another, and cataclysmic earthquakes after the disaster sent most of the west coast into the sea. So Milo leads them east. In their way are various kingdoms and armies to be overcome.

We’re also introduced to the Witchmen, scientists from our time who perfected a method of transferring consciousness from one body to another, making them immortal as well. Their mission seems to be world domination. They know about Milo and other ‘Undying’ and are at odds with them. They especially like to get ahold of some, since that would mean they no longer have to jump from body to body.

Some of the fun here is how Adams plays with words from the 20th century to make them new. Horseclans names are recognizable as names from our time by sounding them out. Karaleenos is most likely Carolinas, Mehrikan is American, etc. It’s fun (at last for me) trying to figure out the translation.

Throw in some telepathic horses and saber tooth cats (the successful result of a 20th century breeding experiment), code of honor this and honor that, frequent battles, torture, and plenty heroes and villains and you’re cooking with gas.

As I mentioned above, you can get a new release (and some used copies) of this (and other books in the series) from 2005 at Amazon. If you’re looking for the older mass market paperback releases, eBay is a good bet. You might be able to find some at used bookstores too.

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