on 16 August 2002
I must confess to not being a fantasy fan. I've read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings but nothing more than that. I usually read Arthur C Clarke, Michael Crichton and sci-fi stuff so this is a toe in the water for me. However once I got into reading the conan stories in this book and in volume 2 I was addicted. The narrative and action in these stories is blistering. I view Conan as a Dirty Harry of the dark ages. He has a code of honour but woe betide anyone who crosses him. Yes these stories are fantastic and I have seen the light. My favourite ones are the situations where Conan is at sea or in places unusual to his character. The best way to read this book I find is to read one story then read some other author and come back for another Conan story then another author and so on. That way the appeal stays fresh. My advice if you've not a fantasy fan is try here for something action packed and fast moving. Robert Howard is truly a gifted writer and deserves your attention.
on 9 August 2000
This is the first of a series of books which - for the first time ever - collects together every single story of Conan written by Robert E. Howard.
And arranged in chronological order too.
The book is nicely put together, being part of the Millenium Books "Fantasy Masterworks" series, and sports a great front cover. Reading through each story, you get a real feel for Conan and the legendary Hyborian Age. The quality of the stories range from good to excellent, and it's nice to be able to read each story in the order they happened in Conan's world.
Add this one to your collection, you won't be disappointed! This is how Conan should be read!
on 25 September 2000
Even though I've always been a fan of early fantasy (Dunsany, Lovecraft, Ashton-Smith, etc) I'd never read the Conan stories before and I am VERY impressed, they have lost absolutely none of their punch after all these years and leave most modern fantasy absolutely nowhere. There are only two small comments I'd like to make about this edition itself.
The first is that reading ANYTHING in large doses means that sooner or later you start to spot the writer's pet hangups or literary tricks. After the third or fourth story you just KNOW that any woman in the story will get her clothes ripped off and that snakes will come into the plot somehow. It doesn't do any harm, but I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more if I'd read these stories a bit at a time. The originals were published in montly magazines and this would have made the occasional repetitiveness less noticeable.
Point #2 is that the publisher really should invest in a spelling checker. They don't cost much and they can probably find one as shareware. There is at least one misprint per page and this can make the whole thing a bit confusing to read and basically cheapens the whole edition.
I'm probably just being pedantic. Go ahead and buy this collection, you won't regret it.
on 11 February 2004
Robert E. Howard, wherever you are, you are still king of "sword and sorcery."
Howard had a great pen and it shines with his depiction of his Conan, who must be one of the earliest anti-Heroes. The character fits perfectly in Howard's Hyborian world, a setting packed with murderers, thieves, deserters, back-stabbers, and cruel sorcerers. No Tolkien Hobbits here. No obscure Elvish languages to deal with. No old-English prose that you would find in Tolkien. Just high adventure, filled with beheadings, broken bones, lost cities and lust.
Finally, after 70 years, they have compiled Howard's Conan stories. Bravo!
I bought several copies of this book as a gift to friends and family.
on 11 May 2001
I first encounted Conan back in 1969-70 and was intersted once seeing a paperback cover with the famous Rogues in the House Ape painting.I re-entercounted Conan for the first time in a reprint edition of Marvels Conan,The Tower of the Elephant and Lair of the Beast-Men changed my way of seeing heroic fantasy.For most of the 1970's I was a Conan nut.Roy Thomas and Bob Howard must have done something right-even passed mistakes and dated material,I travelled with Conan across an age undreamed of-until the coming of Darth Shooter.So now I have many various publications of this big Cimmerian.The Lancer/SpHERE editions,special Science Fiction Book Club editions,The Essebtial Conan and so on.And with the passing of L.Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter-and dissappearce of Mr.Thomas,anything that keeps the Conan Mythos alive is well by me.And any Conan fans can e-mail me.Mr.Thomas as well.I approve the latest edition of this epic Robert E.Howard hero-despite the juggernauts like Ninja Turdles,X-Men,Pokemon and the like Conan survives-he carves his way back into our hearts and minds.And by Crom,he'll return again and again to comics and novels-despite Arnold and the latter half of non Roy Thomas Marvel rubbish.Read Conan for the first or again,by Crom and Mitra.You'll be glad you did-for Conan is not simply a dumassed barbarian adventure as some have tried to put it.Conan and the undreamed worlds of R.E,H, are intellectual heroic fantasy.Don't believe me-check old Savage Sword OF Conan letter pages and you'll see the fans are twenty times smarter than your average superhero comic fan and so on.After all Conan would frequenty say''I said I was a barbarian.I never said I was stupid''.Neither is he,nor his fans,authors or the publishers-well not all anyway.By Crom.
on 8 August 2000
Many people have heard of Conan but few have actually read the original REH stories. For the first time since the 1930s here they are, unedited by other writers. Conan stories have suffered from clumsy rewriting and editing over the years, now here he is back in the raw. You get 14 full stories and a few fragments and partially completed ones which were used by others to write full stories. It's top stuff, vivid, funny and imaginative. The descriptions are lovingly over the top at times, it has a definite style. The stories are short and fast-paced. You are spared the long rambling works that much modern Sword and Sorcery work has become. It's all fast and furious and Conan is superb. He doesn't think, he does. A lot of what we now think of as classic S&S elements appeared here for the first time. A hearty thanks to those who finally cut through the legal fighting that has stopped these stories being available for so long. Conan would have known how to deal with them. Crom.
on 24 March 2001
I recently took the risk of buying this book and I was very much impressed. Howards writing is like that of a visionary, telling of events he has seen. It was said by Howard that he felt Conan guiding his fingers over his typewriter and this is very evident when reading, he says so much with so little. The whole book shouts of flame and fury and fairly pulsates with life, not apparent in Tolkien or anyone else for that matter. To end, this book is the best way to be introduced to the visionary world of Robert E. Howard. All his origional words are reproduced here and for the first time ever the stories are completely untouched and in their correct order. There are some spelling errors but these are rare and mostly sum up to a few missing letters not, as has been stated on this page, filling the entire book. If you are tired of static unimaginative stories then Robert Ervin Howard's work is the greatest antidote. He is quite simply the grand master of heroic fantasy.
on 2 April 2002
This is the best fantasy ever written, with the possible exception of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and Lewis's "Narnia" tales, for the reason being they aren't the same type of fantasy altogether, though I love them most dearly too.
My first go at the Conan stories was in the early 80s, and since then, I always come back to them if for one reason or another I was feeling hard put to mix into out everyday technical, economical world.
Howard's Conan stories really transport me to a different world, one of such exotism and delight that I never fail to wake up to real life with a much brighter outlook on things.
Though I sometimes wish I was living in Conan's era, this is second best to my dreams. My only regret is that Howard didn't live longer to astonish us with more of Conan's stories.
One warning though : apart from Lin Carter and Lin Sprague de Camp's adaptations, all the sequels to Howard's Conan series have been HORRIBLE failures. Don't touch them, please, whatever you do !
on 12 January 2002
Michael Moorcock, in his study of epic fantasy Wizardry and Wild Romance, lists Robert E. Howard as one of the best and most important fantasy writers of the 20th century. He rates the Americans like Howard, Leiber and Wolfe over the British tradition, both for their vitality and for their engagement. For Moorcock Howard is certainly as good as Dunsany, though a very different writer, and this is the raw voice of Depression America as authoritative and powerful in its own way as Hammett's was to the detective story. Pulp power. Moorcock says there are no pulp writers -- only writers who published in pulp magazines, often because their work was so offbeat, they couldn't publish in the conventional magazines. This was true of Moorcock, Aldiss, Ballard and Dick in the fifties, so he knows what he's talking about. This is not a knowing sophisticated tone addressing a middle class needed comfort and reassurance, as Moorcock argues Tolkien is -- this is as American, as vigorous, as smart and as savvy as the best American rock and roll. Take no substitutes. With Elric, Conan is the greatest single character in all fantasy!
And this is repetitive -- but so is rock and roll.
The best is in the second volume -- The Hour of the Dragon. Howard's only novel. And what a
novel it is! Don't judge these books by the dumb, dumb movies. Just as LOTR leaves out the
essential prose tone of the books, so did the movies leave out the sheer love of language which informs everything Howard writes. What a shame he
killed himself. If he had moved to San Francisco and met Hammett -- who knows what would have happened. After all he was first published in the same magazine which first published Tennessee Williams's short stories -- Weird Tales! This is
the original, full-strength stuff. Forget Jordan and Eddings. Howard's five times the strength at least!
on 15 December 2004
These stories are truly excellent in a way that few things are. Not only are they full of gut wrenching action, horror, and a kind of fantastic grim reality, but they have been incredibly influential, and their power can still be felt today. If you don't believe me, here is a little lesson in the history of Fantasy Fiction.
Robert Ervin Howard was the first person to truly link ancient mythology and history to Fantasy Fiction. It was this, foremostely though not exclusively, that Tolkien drew from his greatest inspiration. (Tolkien was a big fan of Howard's, and repeatedly lauded Howard's work for the brilliance of his words among other things.) In point of fact, the vast majority of Howard's writings were historical fiction, and he wrote an extensive catalogue of stories to do with the history of the conflicts in the Middle East during and after the Crusades. If you know your mythology and your ancient history, you will know what you are looking at when you immerse yourself in Howard's Hyborian Age.
There are few aspects of the entertainment industry that have not been affected in some way by what Fantasy Fiction became: a link to the mythos and ways of the past. Howard was a brilliant man, and in my opinion is one of the most overlooked poets of all time. For an example of some really excellent poetry I suggest you pick up a copy of Always Comes Evening (collected poems of REH). The Conan stories are by turns violent, seething, fun, and morosely philosophical. Common conceptions that they are in some way sexist are immediately smashed by the fact that Howard's work, including the Conan stories, are full of swashbuckling heriones; quite a noval idea in the 1930s. In my opinion, to this day there really is no better read. And if you are interested in literature, especially popular (and therefore socially important) literature, these stories will only broaden your horizon.