The Horseclans Page

   This here page is dedicated to the Horseclans novels, a series of 18 novels and two anthology collections by the late author Robert Adams (1932-1990) in the science-fantasy genre. His works are most noted for action, plenty of violence, a meticulous knowledge of things military, and occasional polemics from the conservative-libertarian region of the political graph. For a period of time after his death, all of his works have gone out of print, but Mundania press is currently republishing the Horseclans series (and the Magic in Ithkar anthology series as well). Additionally, if you are lucky, you can find them at used book stores.

   The Horseclans novels were published from 1975 until 1988. The novels are set in post-WWIII North America, and involve a number of elements which RA handled in an entertaining way. The novels, with their years of publication, are:
  1. The Coming of the Horseclans, 1975
  2. Swords of the Horseclans, 1976
  3. Revenge of the Horseclans, 1977
  4. A Cat of Silvery Hue, 1979
  5. The Savage Mountains, 1979
  6. The Patrimony, 1980
  7. Horseclans Odyssey, 1981
  8. The Death of a Legend, 1981
  9. The Witch Goddess, 1982
  10. Bili the Axe, 1982
  11. Champion of the Last Battle, 1983
  12. A Woman of the Horseclans, 1983
  13. Horses of the North, 1985
  14. A Man Called Milo Morai, 1986
  15. The Memories of Milo Morai, 1986
  16. Trumpets of War, 1987
  17. Madman's Army, 1987
  18. The Clan of the Cats, 1988
Additionally, Friends of the Horseclans (1987) and Friends of the Horseclans II (1989), collections of short stories by RA and others, are unnumbered parts of the collected work.  The quality of the anthology stories is not up to the level of the series by RA himself; to put it bluntly, some of them suck.
   Robert Adams had plans for a whole lot more books; the series is very open-ended with room for tons of stories; in the introduction to Friends of the Horseclans, he said that the number of loose threads left in the series would take him about fifty years to resolve, which was one of the reasons for letting other authors in on the series. I was very disappointed to learn of his death. Pamela Crippen Adams recognizes the need to get the series moving again, but also has school and family involvement taking up her time. I'm not prepared to hand out her contact info at this time, so please don't ask. Extending the series would not involve a great burden on one individual; one person can flesh out the timeline and enforce continuity, while others work within the the framework thus established.
Finding the books

As you can read above, you can buy the first one from Mundania Press LLC, and wait around for them to get the rest of them printed.

Or, you can go to, and search based on the phrase horseclans. A whole heap of sites will come up. Many of them will be on-line used bookstores.

If none of them are any help, go to a brick-and-mortar used book store.

If you're still stuck, go to a garage sale.

That's all I can do for you.


The Horseclans novels are set in Post-Holocaust America. In Robert Adams' alternate history, World War Three takes place after a period of growing corruption, lawlessness, and contraction of civil liberties. There follows a brief period of a year or two wherein 99.99% of the human race perishes from disease, warfare, famine, etc., a longer drawn-out period wherein the remaining lights of civilization gradually wink out, and a centuries-long period where civilization gradually reforms, with input from some WWIII survivors. The novels are set at varying points in this alternate history, and from time to time include flashbacks to times prior to WWIII.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: Robert Adams was a history buff, a military buff, and a military history buff, and speaks with authority on these subjects. The plotting of the novels is centered around action, and RA appears to have sketched out much of the alt-history prior to committing to any course of events, so that there are few if any inconsistencies in the Horseclans cosmos. Robert Adams' style is a well-chosen mix of simple, direct descriptive prose and baroquely-constructed sentences with one clause piled on top of another. I like a style that challenges me every once in a while, enjoy Victor Hugo especially, and grammar checkers tend to inform me that my sentences are too long, so this latter habit of Adams' is not bothersome to me.

The Bad: From time to time RA stops to lecture the reader about this and that. Sometimes the lecture makes the action more easily understandable, but sometimes the events seem contrived to give RA an excuse for pontificating. Many of the polemics are on views which are not considered controversial in the mainstream (like the iniquities of Nazism), rendering them even more pointless than would otherwise be the case. Once in a while there are cases of bad guys standing around while the good guys lecture them, and even when the reader agrees with the content of the polemics they still get tedious. The ironic thing about the polemics is the introductory paragraph in the first novel, in which RA deprecated this very sort of thing.

He also had a tendancy to trowel on the foreshadowing.

The Ugly: If you aren't into graphic violence, the Horseclans series is definitely not for you. I can't count the number of different way people get killed in this series. Also, RA appears to have shared most of Hollywood's opinions about Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity, so if you object to the way Hollywood depicts Christians, you won't like the way RA generally portrays them, either.

The Sex: Robert Adams appears to have suffered from the Heinlein Effect: The sex became more prominent and more explicit as the series wore on (it was also more noticeable in his other series as well). In the earlier works, the fact that so-and-so are going to bed is made clear, but the action isn't described. In later books, the foreplay gets a bit of attention, and sometimes the reader is led to know exactly which sexual act is taking place. Whatever sex takes place has some connection to the events surrounding the bedroom scene, so it is never entirely gratuitous. Considering one of his prior occupations, even the smuttiest parts of the series are restrained.


The timeline of the series does not strictly follow the order of the series' publication, although there are times when the series sticks with the flow of the events for three or four books before going to another point in history. Several of the books consist mostly of flashbacks to earlier eras, including events prior to WWIII and even pre-WWII times. With few exceptions, no specific dates are given for events in the alternate history, although from time to time RA gives clues that allow reasonably certain dates to be calculated. The action appears to proceed along the following lines:

Kingdoms and Peoples

The Ahrmehnee
are descended from the Armenian-American community in the Washington, D.C. region. They established a sovereign state of their own during the aftermath of WWIII, which kingdom had a period of great prosperity, then decadence and collapse. They were subsequently pushed into the Appalachians by the Ehleenee incursions. Their presence in the series is the result of RA's great respect for the Armenian people.

The Confederacy
is the result of the Horseclans invasion of Kehnooryos Ehlas in the first book of the series. Originally intent on taking territory for the Horseclans, Milo Morai discovers the Ehleenee High Lord to be an Undying, and instead they arrange for a political merger. Later the Southern Kingdom, after a disastrous attempt to conquer the Confederacy, merges with it instead. The Confederacy later gains the Grand Duchy of Kumbuhluhn as a member state, along with Karaleenos, the Isles of the Sea Lords and later still the Ahrmehnee territory. To make sure that the Confederation is less vulnerable to ethnic discord, Milo Morai purposefully encourages the mixture of the differing ethnic groups within the Confederation, and discourages the formation of political movements that strive for any concept of racial purity. He is also keeping technological progress between extremes, kicking it to run more quickly when innovation slows, but inhibiting the premature introduction of 20th-century inventions. At the end of the timeline in the series, the Confederation is comprised of over six hundred duchies, grouped into one hundred archduchies and a number of principalities. The duchies themselves are divided into counties of various size. There are vague hints that at some point in the future the Confederation will be cease to exist as a political unit due to some kind of disaster, with a second Confederation possibly being established on the West Coast, but if this is the case it is at a point in time far later than the events in any of the novels.

The Ehleenee
are a group of Greek-speaking peoples that colonized the eastern coast of North America in two separate landings, led by Clarence Bookerman. Initially a very martial people in the Homeric tradition, over time they (especially the nobility) became decadent, depraved, and corrupt, although a minority of Ehleenee maintain the old virtues. The Northern Ehleenee have one kingdom, known as Kehnooryos Mahkedohnya (New Macedon, located in the New England area), while the Southern Ehleenee dwell in several kingdoms, known as Kehnooryos Ehlas (New Greece), Karaleenos (probably the Carolinas), and the Southern Kingdom (Georgia and Alabama).

The Freefighters
are the main mercenary forces in the Horseclans novels, deriving their names from the fact that unless they are already under contract, the are free to be hired by anyone with enough cash to pay them. Most of them are gentlemen or commoners of the Northern Kingdoms. Many of them are initiates of the Sword Cult.

The Ganiks
also known as Muhkohee, are the descendants of some flower children who have converted the environmentalist viewpoint into a religion. They are divided into pacifist farmers and the thugs who prey on the pacifist farmers (and everyone else). They are depicted as savages, with cannibalism, incest, and mental instability being common. Evidently Robert Adams didn't like hippies very much.

The Horseclans
also known as the Kindred, are a tribe of nomads descended from some teenagers that Milo Morai adopted shortly after WWIII. As a rule the Kindred are lightly complected, small in stature and light in frame, have strong mindspeak, and are experts in archery and horsemanship. Their language is the Horseclans dialect of Mehrikan (American English). After a few centuries of guiding the Horseclans, Milo Morai left them and travelled the world, searching for a reputed enclave of Undying. After two centuries of fruitless searching, he returned to find the Horseclans essentially the same as when he had left them, and led them to the east coast of the former United States of America to establish a promised realm there.

The Kleesahk
are a race of hominids who are real instances of the Sasquatch/Bigfoot legend. Powerfully telepathic, they are associated with the Ganiks, and are often called such. The Kleesahks are actually a hybrid of human Ganiks with a hominid species known as the Teenehdjook; when the Kleesahks are first encountered by Bili, their leader is unaware of any extant pure-blood Teenehdjook. The Kleesahks are sometimes sterile, otherwise they are able to interbreed with humans.

The Middle Kingdoms
also known as the Burkers or the Northern Barbarians, are descendants of US citizens who survived WWIII. They occupy what seems to be the Pennsylvania area. There are several Burk kingdoms, including Pitzburk, Harzburk, Getzburk, etc. The Burkers are always fighting among themselves, which is the only thing keeping them from overrunning the entire continent...

The Moon Maidens
are a sub-group of Ahrmehnee who occupy a hold in a volcanic valley bordering on the main Ahrmehnee territory. Their society is a strict matriarchy (ruled by a Council of Grandmothers), in which men have been reduced to slavery. The women are either lesbian or celibate, having carnal relations with men only for reproductive purposes. After the Witchmen loot their hold and trigger a volcanic eruption that utterly destroys their entire valley, the Silver Lady instructs the Maidens to abandon both their lesbian and matriarchical ways, and marry into a group of Freefighters and Confederation soldiers that they encounter.

are the successful result of a 20th-century program to recreate the sabre-toothed tiger. They are strongly telepathic, and as a result are allied with the Horseclans.

The Sea Lords
are the descendants of a faction of Ehleens who, after coming out on the losing side of a civil war, took ship for the Bermudas and established a community from which they raid the Eastern Seaboard.

The Undying
are a group of human beings who are able to regenerate quickly from almost all injury, are immune to all diseases, and after a certain point in adulthood do not age at all. There are several known ways to kill them, but an Undying that is careful can avoid them and in theory live forever. The only other drawbacks to the Undying life are sterility (see Miscellaneous Information below), and the various effects of immortality on social relations with normal humans. During the novels that are set in the time frame of the Confederacy's existence, Undying are offered the position of High Lord or High Lady of the Confederacy, with the exception of Clarence Bookerman. All known Undying are of the Homo sapiens species, which is odd considering that animals outnumber humans by a few orders of magnitude, and also that the relative complexity of the human body would make it the least likely candidate for biological immortality.

The Witchmen
are a group of 20th-century humans who have managed to extend their lifespans by transferring their minds to young, healthy bodies as their current bodies grow old. They possess much of the knowledge that was lost in WWIII, but lack an industrial base of sufficient size to fully capitalize on this advantage. They are behind much of the political trouble that Milo faces throughout the series.

The Zartogahns
are the descendants of African-Americans who occupy a group of sovereign states called the Black Kingdoms that appear to be located in the Baltimore-Philadelphia-New York region. None of the military action in the book involves the Black Kingdoms, and the narrative suggests that none of the rulers of the Black Kingdoms have any apparent interest in ruling non-black peoples, or vice-versa. In the series medicine is practiced by a guild of Zartogahn physicians, and with one exception all of the Zartogahns encountered are members of the Physicians' Guild. They speak one or more daughter tongues of Arabic and are practicing Muslims.

The Religions

Throughout the Horseclans novels there are several religions that spring up. Some are descended from modern-day religions, while others are innovations by Robert Adams.

The Blue Lady
is a religion of the Northern Kingdoms. Its tenets and practices are left undescribed, except that the worshippers are all women. It is a derivative of Catholic mariolatry.

The Ehleenee Church
is the descendant of the Greek Orthodox Church. Robert Adams portrays them in a manner not too different from the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, both in the degree of corruption and the extent of political involvement. In Swords of the Horseclans and Madman's Army there are positive portrayals of Ehleen clergy, but for the most part they are presented as hypocrites, ideologues, fanatics, etc. Due to the rampant corruption in the Church, it is bereft of much of its secular holdings at the end of Swords of the Horseclans; the discontent this causes in the clergy makes them manipulable by the Witch Kingdom, which foments the Great Ehleenee Rebellion, using the Ehleenee Christians as tools. After the rebellion is put down the Ehleenee Church is outlawed.

is represented by the Zartohgahns, and especially by their guild of physicians. Robert Adams presents Muslims either neutrally or positively, but appears to know nothing about Islam beyond what is portrayed in popular media. Except for the jihad and the prohibition against alcoholic beverages, none of the tenets pertaining to Islam are mentioned in the novels, not even Ramadan or the five daily prayers, which are not trivial omissions by any means!

Organic Conservationism
is the religion (and way of life) practised by the Ganiks. It is 20th-century environmentalism taken to the extreme. Devout Ganiks do not bathe, eat the flesh of any warm-blooded animal (except humans), forge metal, etc.

Protestant Christianity
still survives in post-WWIII America, due to the large number of antebellum adherents, as well as a disproportionately high survival rate among some fringe sects. RA had a severe bias against Protestant Christianity; its spokesmen are never portrayed positively, and followers only when they are skeptical.

The Silver Lady
is the religion of the Ahrmehnee, including the Moon Maidens. The usual ceremonies involve raising the celebrant to an ecstatic vision, usually through the use of drugs; the celebrant (whether male or female) experiences carnal relations with the Lady, and then receives guidance from her. A lapse in the worship of the Silver Lady is given as the fundamental cause of the downfall of the original Ahrmehnee kingdom. In the novels the Silver Lady is an actual being of some sort, and claims to be a manifestation of the deity of all true religions (in which group Adams includes Islam and excludes Christianity). She is able to show the celebrant visions of the past, other places, and possible futures, depending on the choices taken by the viewer.
    A correspondant informs me that the worship of the Silver Lady is also a derivation of the veneration of Mary; a bit of artistic license is involved here, as the Armenian church presently does not venerate Mary, and even if it did, going from present-day Mariolatry to the depicted form of worship is a greater leap than fifty generations of cultural evolution can naturally bring about. The pre-Christian rites practised by Armenians did resemble the Silver Lady cult to some degree, although Adams was not aware of this when developing the concept.

Sun and Wind
are revered by the Horseclans. Aside from cremation of the dead and a few expletives peculiar to the faith, there are no rituals associated with this reverence.

The Sword Cult
is the chief religion of the Northern Kingdoms, and especially of the Freefighters (a self-governing body of professional mercenaries). The cult is organized into lodges, enshrouds many of its practices in secrecy, and enforces a strict code of honor for its adherents.

Individuals of Note


Mindspeak is the term applied in the series to the entire range of telepathic abilities. Mindspeak is highly regarded in some cultures, and in others it is regarded with fear. The abilities employed in the series include:

GURPS Roleplaying

I'm told that there is a GURPS supplement out for the Horseclans cosmos, authored with the complete cooperation and great assistance of Robert Adams himself; consequently the contents can be considered canonical. If I come across it, I'll flesh out the info here with what's in there. Please don't offer to send me the info, or sell, loan, or give me your copy; this project is on the back burner for now.

The Future of the Horseclans Series

Robert Adams had planned for a total of "about thirty" books in the series (not including the various Friends of the Horseclans anthologies). Specifically:

This would bring up the book count to 26 books, and with only about thirty planned, it seems that either his estimate of thirty was an undercount, or he planned to wrap up the whole series in a mere four books; I suspect the former. Then again, it's possible that he planned to farm out the job of fleshing out the series to the anthologies.

Pamela Crippen Adams, as I mentioned above, recognizes the need to get the series going again, but has had significant demands on her time.

Miscellaneous Info:
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