The Pulp Swordsmen: Cealwyn

F. Van Wyck Mason was a popular writer of historical and spy novels in the 1950s through the 1970s. He had a pulp career before that as F. V. W. Mason. “The Barbarian” is a tale of Cealwyn, a Briton, kidnapped by Carthaginians and made a slave. He escapes and fights the Carthaginians during the First Punic War.  “The Barbarian” was a six part serial in Argosy from May 19, 1934–June 23, 1934. Remember, this was when Conan was helping to keep Weird Tales afloat.

Mason later rewrote the story as a paperback in 1954 as The Barbarians. He added a scene where Cealwyn’s sister is thrown into the sea by the Carthaginians after their capture. The novel moves quickly and is full of action and worth tracking down. The story takes an interesting turn.

In 1960, NBC adapted the novel as a pilot for a T.V. show called “Rivak the Barbarian” starring no less than Jack Palance as Cealwyn renamed as Rivak. Talk about great casting. The movie had a theatrical release in Europe as The Barbarian. I have not been able to find any DVD for this movie nor even a clip anywhere on the world wide web. Decades before Robert E. Howard’s barbarian portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger made it to film, F. Van Wyck Mason’s barbarian in Jack Palance mode got there first.