Welcome to my new blog post series here on Mighty Thor JRS, Definitive Sword and Sorcery. At least what is definitive in my opinion. I will spotlight some of the best authors and books fantasy has ever known. I can’t wait to share these amazing books, authors, and the amazing cover art and artist. For my sixth post I am going to go with Robert E. Howard and his Kull stories.
So yeah Robert E. Howard is basically the most definitive of definitive Sword and Sorcery! Everybody knows Conan, but Kull gets overlooked. Every S&S character gets overlooked next to Conan but hey he is pretty awesome! (More on Conan in my next post). I thought Kull needed some Definitive Sword and Sorcery love!
Before Conan there was Kull. Conan, whose first appearance was in a re-write of a rejected Kull story, probably would never have came about if it were not for Howard’s Kull stories. Kull was born in pre-cataclysmic Atlantis, his tribe was destroyed by a flood while he was still a toddler. Adopted by another surviving tribe before being exiled from Atlantis. Kull went on to become a Slave, pirate, outlaw and gladiator in his adventures. In later stories Kull was a mercenary Soldier, assassin, general, then later leads a revolt to become a king. His first published appearance was “The Shadow Kingdom” in Weird Tales (August, 1929).
Kull, was more introspective than Howard’s subsequent creation, Conan. Kull The former barbarian is often lost in contemplation’s of philosophy. Conan with less philosophy, more action, and more supernatural elements to make it more sale-able became the most popular Robert E. Howard character, but owes much to his direct literary forerunner Kull. Don’t get me wrong I will always love REH’s most popular barbarian, but I always had an affinity for Kull. So do yourself a favor and if you are not already familiar with this other barbarian turned king, go read these amazing stories.
As I become more and more disenchanted with modern fantasy and modern fantasy authors, I find myself going back to the books and authors that got me into fantasy in the first place. So I decided to shed some light on these books and authors. I am going to try and do this on a weekly/monthly basis but we will see how it goes.
If you have some comments, suggestions, recommendations, let me know!
Are you are a modern author that writes books/stories like the ones I will spotlight here? Get in touch. I want to work with you and spread the word. There has to be something new out that I can read and love. Short stories, collections, magazines, whatever! Let me know what you got and are working on.
James – Mighty Thor JRS
Check out my other Definitive Sword and Sorcery post:
Art by Justin Sweet
In a meteoric career that spanned a mere twelve years, Robert E. Howard single-handedly invented the genre that came to be called sword and sorcery. From his fertile imagination sprang some of fiction’s most enduring heroes. Yet while Conan is indisputably Howard’s greatest creation, it was in his earlier sequence of tales featuring Kull, a fearless warrior with the brooding intellect of a philosopher, that Howard began to develop the distinctive themes, and the richly evocative blend of history and mythology, that would distinguish his later tales of the Hyborian Age.
Much more than simply the prototype for Conan, Kull is a fascinating character in his own right: an exile from fabled Atlantis who wins the crown of Valusia, only to find it as much a burden as a prize.
This groundbreaking collection, lavishly illustrated by award-winning artist Justin Sweet, gathers together all Howard’s stories featuring Kull, from Kull’s first published appearance, in “The Shadow Kingdom,” to “Kings of the Night,” Howard’s last tale featuring the cerebral swordsman. The stories are presented just as Howard wrote them, with all subsequent editorial emendations removed. Also included are previously unpublished stories, drafts, and fragments, plus extensive notes on the texts, an introduction by Howard authority Steve Tompkins, and an essay by noted editor Patrice Louinet.
“Howard was a true storyteller–one of the first, and certainly among the best, you’ll find in heroic fantasy. If you’ve never read him before, you’re in for a real treat.”
–Charles de Lint
“For stark, living fear . . . what other writer is even in the running with Robert E. Howard?”
–H. P. Lovecraft
“Robert E. Howard had a gritty, vibrant style–broadsword writing that cut its way to the heart, with heroes who are truly larger than life.”
Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is well known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre.
Howard was born and raised in Texas. He spent most of his life in the town of Cross Plains with some time spent in nearby Brownwood. A bookish and intellectual child, he was also a fan of boxing and spent some time in his late teens bodybuilding, eventually taking up amateur boxing. From the age of nine he dreamed of becoming a writer of adventure fiction but did not have real success until he was 23. Thereafter, until his death at age 30, Howard’s writings were published in a wide selection of magazines, journals, and newspapers, and he had become successful in several genres. Although a Conan novel was nearly published in 1934, his stories never appeared in book form during his lifetime. The main outlet for his stories was the pulp magazine Weird Tales.
In the pages of the Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales, Howard created Conan the Barbarian. With Conan and his other heroes, Howard created the genre now known as sword and sorcery, spawning many imitators and giving him a large influence in the fantasy field. Howard remains a highly read author, with his best works still reprinted.