Battle in the Dawn: The Complete Hok the Mighty (Trade Paperback)

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By Manly Wade Wellman with an introduction by David Drake

In the 1930s, an unusual tale appeared in the influential Amazing Stories magazine. Unlike the usual yarns of robots and interstellar travel, “Battle in the Dawn” featured the brutal exploits of Hok, humanity’s first hero. Written by Pulitzer Prize-nominee Manly Wade Wellman (Who Fears the Devil?), who would later achieve fame for his American folktales of Silver John and beat out William Faulkner for a prestigious writing award, this hit story spawned several additional adventures, in which Hok battles unrelenting cavemen, explores lost Atlantis, discovers new technology, and charts a new destiny for humanity.

Now, for the first time ever, Planet Stories presents a complete authorized collection of all of Wellman’s rare Hok the Mighty tales, including an unfinished story fragment and a brand-new introduction by Wellman’s longtime friend, fantasy author David Drake.

    Full stories include:
  • Battle in the Dawn
  • Hok Goes to Atlantis
  • Hok Draws the Bow
  • Hok and the Gift of Heaven
  • Hok Visits the Land of Legends
  • Day of the Conquerors

272-page softcover trade paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-289-0

About the Author

Winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Locus Award for best novel and best compilation, Manly Wade Wellman is one of the best-regarded writers of the Pulp Age, and a foundational figure in the development of fantasy fiction.

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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Enjoyable, fast-paced read

****( )

Okay, so I'm a sucker for ERB's Tarzan series, and REH's Conan series, etc., and this book fits right in with those.

Even the extra material at the end is great; the non-Hok story of the attempted alien invasion was very enjoyable, though a tad unrealistic by the standards of today's technology. Not that it matters all that much - if you're reading a book like this you're not expecting Isaac Asimov (although it was interesting that throughout the Hok stories Wellman included little footnotes about the stone ages).

Battle in the Dawn is certainly not a contemporary book (i.e. 1500 pages, with 40 characters and a convoluted plot), but that's a large part of its charm - this is a very old-school, straightforward book of action set in the stone ages.

Writings of the birth of humanity

****( )

This is the work of a young Manly Wade Wellman, before he wrote his Silver John stories. Here, the hero is Hok, once of the first modern humans. Yes, he is a caveman, wearing furs and carrying a sharp stick at the beginning of his saga, but over time Hok becomes "humanity's first hero" driving out Neanderthals, learning archery, metalwork, and forging peace between tribes.

This is, actually, pretty good stuff, and containing hints at a broader mythos that explains Atlantis, an advanced civilisation swept away by the (meditterranean) sea. Hok is surprisingly engaging for a guy who wears animals pelts and initially thinks the way to a woman's heart is to steal her away from her family and friends, and Wellman hints that many of the labours of Hercules are much-garbled retellings of Hok's early exploits.

There is also a 50-page short story which is not of Hok, but of his tribe (presumably in post-Hok days) meeting a Martian exploratory force come to take over the Earth, and driving them off: shades of The High Crusade here, and its interesting to speculate if the story was inspiration for that, on some level.

A short introduction by David Drake is also included, telling us that Wellman in fact lived in tribal Africa until he was 7, so he probably had a good understanding of "primitive" tribal man, and lets us know a little about the man. This is interesting and welcome.
All in all, this is not as good as Silver John, but still a solid read.

An enjoyable Wellman offering

****( )

Thank you Paizo for returning to the roots of Planet Stories. The first story introduces us to Hok the Mighty is an enjoyable Wellman product. Although the introductory story was not as good as the rest of the stories, the latter stories make up for it. I actually think the first story has aged poorly due to different morals and ethics now. There are footnotes throughout the stories. They generally reflect the anthropology of the time including one commenting on Piltdown man before it was discovered to be a forgery.

The stories follow the Flint People in general (and Hok the Mighty) in particular. Reading through the stories have anachronistic aspects. He often uses metaphors and analogies that would be familiar to his audience, but look odd when compared to modern views.