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Khlit. Khlit was created by Harold Lamb (Abdul Dost) and appeared in twenty-one stories in Adventure (U.S.) from 1917 to 1926, beginning with “Khlit” (Adventure (U.S.), Nov. 1 1917).

“Khlit of the Curved Saber” is a Cossack active along the western border of Russia near the end of the 16th century. He is man, tall and broad, with a single scalp lock, a long gray mustache, and light blue eyes. His most prized possession is his saber, a Damascus-forged Turkish blade with unknown writing inscribed on it. (It was the blade of the Khan of the Kallmark Tatars, descendants of Genghis Khan). Khlit rides through Asia, adventuring among the Cossacks, Tatars, Chinese, Afghans, and Indians. He succeeds at destroying the stronghold of the Old Man of the Mountains and of the Assassins. He helps find and loot the lost tomb of Genghis Khan. He helps the Jun-gar Tatars defeat a Chinese army and is elected to the role of Kha Khan.

Khlit rescues the Chinese emperor from treasonous imprisonment. Years later, aided by his grandson, he puts paid to the evil Russian Prince Vladimir. Khlit helps loot the city of Urgench after a 2000 mile ride, and then, finally, helps to kill a false Czar who betrayed the Cossacks. Khlit, though unlettered, is a mighty warrior, and even more important very clever. If he vows that he will ride unarmed through an enemy’s camp in exchange for the release of a hostage, he will do that—in the middle of a stampede of wild horses. If he is trapped among enemies, he will volunteer himself to be the subject of a hunt, all the while knowing that no one can outride a Cossack. Khlit is variously accompanied by Chagan, an enormous Tatar swordsman and hereditary bearer of the Khan’s sword; by Arslan, a minstrel and wondrous archer; and by Abdul Dost.

* I'm including the Khlit stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because they are prime pulp fun. Harold Lamb really shouldn't be forgotten now; he was a quite talented writer who was successful in a range of genres, including biographies and nonfiction, and whose pulp stories are among the most entertaining and effective of their time. The Khlit stories are some of Lamb's best, and give the reader everything they might possibly want in High Pulp adventure. Khlit is wily, adventurous, an accomplished swordsman who survives by guile as much as by violence. Khlit's friends are an appealing group, well-characterized in a few lines of description and/or dialogue. Lamb did a lot of research for his stories and knew a lot about the times and places he wrote about, so that the Khlit stories, although compact and mostly free of nuance--such is the pulp way--are mostly unstereotypical and unracist in their characterization and treatment of Muslims and Central Asians. I heartily recommend checking out the inexpensive four-volume reprint series of the Khlit stories that's currently (Sept. 2021) available. 

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