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247 of 251 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BACK IN PRINT -- Robert E. Howard's great creation!
If you're a fan of fantasy author Robert E. Howard, who wrote for the pulps in the 1920s and 30s, rejoice! His stories of the great barbarian adventurer Conan are coming back in print, without unnecessary editing. These are the original texts.
If you enjoy fantasy, but have never read either Howard or Conan -- BUY THIS NOW. It is a must for lovers of fantasy. Banish...
Published on January 28, 2004 by Claude Avary

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version has no artwork!!!
The stories are great, but the Kindle version has no artwork. If you read the Amazon review of the book it mentions the artwork. Yet there is none to be found in the digital version. Come on and get with it Amazon!!
Published on March 31, 2010 by Bucephalus

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247 of 251 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BACK IN PRINT -- Robert E. Howard's great creation!, January 28, 2004
If you're a fan of fantasy author Robert E. Howard, who wrote for the pulps in the 1920s and 30s, rejoice! His stories of the great barbarian adventurer Conan are coming back in print, without unnecessary editing. These are the original texts.
If you enjoy fantasy, but have never read either Howard or Conan -- BUY THIS NOW. It is a must for lovers of fantasy. Banish any notions you have of Conan in other media: movies, comics, books by other authors. Howard's Conan is a stunning, unique creation. At turns bloody thrilling, filled with passionate rushes of action, at other times brooding and beautiful, sweeping you off to strange vistas. Howard was a one of a kind author, an American great, and with Conan he was at his best.
This first volume covers the first third of Howard's Conan stories, presented in the order they were written. The included stories are (in order):
1. The Phoenix on the Sword
2. The Frost-Giant's Daughter
3. The God in the Bowl
4. The Tower of the Elephant
5. The Scarlet Citadel
6. Queen of the Black Coast
7. Black Colossus
8. Iron Shadows in the Moon (aka Shadows in the Moonlight)
9. Xuthal of the Dusk (aka The Slithering Shadow)
10. The Pool of the Black One
11. The Vale of Lost Women
12. The Devil in Iron
13. The Phoenix on the Sword (first submitted draft)
Plus a number of fragments and outlines, and Howard's guide to Conan's world: "The Hyborian Age."
All the stories are enjoyable, although a few are minor entries in the Conan canon. The superior works are "The Tower of the Elephant," "The Scarlet Citadel," "The Frost-Giant's Daughter," and "Queen of the Black Coast." The last story is the gem of the collection: a grand romantic tragedy that you will never forget. This is one of Howard's ultimate great works.
The volume comes with a treasure trove of supporting material: illustrations by Mark Schultz that have a unique take on the character; an informative introduction and very detailed appendicies that go into the history of how Howard wrote the stories and some of his sources, and textual notes for the truly obsessed.
This is simply a superb collection: long-time fans and first time readers will all find something to treasure in this salute to one of the major authors and founders of modern fantasy.
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73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent tribute to Robert Howard, June 27, 2004
If a teacher assigned a project requiring you to draw up a list of the most influential authors in the fantasy/science fiction genre, Robert E. Howard would sit safely in the top five. Along with H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, Howard was one of the groundbreaking influences in popular fiction of the 1930s. His influence is still felt today as evidenced by the large number of books containing stories based on his most popular creation, Conan the Cimmerian. Sadly, most of these newer tales, spun from unfinished fragments found in Howard's possession after his untimely demise in 1936, barely manage to attain a shadow of the glory found in the original tales. I think of Lin Carter's "Conan the Liberator," a truly awful piece of junk based on one of these fragments, and I shudder at the damage done to Robert Howard's reputation. That's why we should all give a warm round of applause to Del Rey for releasing this comprehensive collection of the earliest Conan stories. It's great to see a collection of the original tales available for sale at a reasonable price. Moreover, the book contains a foreword from the illustrator chosen to draw for this collection, a fascinating piece of criticism examining Howard's influences, and a few other goodies shedding even more light on how Conan came about. The order of the stories, too, mirrors exactly the sequence in which the author wrote them.
"The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian" is, I am embarrassed to say, my first foray into the original Conan tales. I looked around for these things for years, but always found the prices in the secondary market-usually for moth eaten copies of decades old versions-to much weight to place on my wallet. I did get a chance to read a few of Howard's Bran Mak Morn stories, several of his Cthulhu tales, and a couple of other great stories completely unrelated to Conan. Still, it's not the same. To know Howard is to read the Conan sagas. Included here are thirteen original stories, beginning with "The Phoenix on the Sword" and including such epics as "The Tower of the Elephant," "The Scarlet Citadel," "Queen of the Black Coast," and "Black Colossus." Lesser, but by no means uninteresting stories, include "The Frost-Giant's Daughter," "The God in the Bowl," "Iron Shadows in the Moon," "Rogues in the House," and "Xuthal of the Dusk." Included also is Howard's history of his Hyborian Age, a lengthy discussion of the various nations and peoples that form the backdrop of the Conan adventures. The author's love for setting stories in the historical past led him to create an alternate version of world history, one that resembled in many ways our own ancient times but allowed him to make up things as he went along. The history of the Hyborian Age alone is worth the price of the book.
It's impossible to adequately summarize every story, or even most of the stories, contained in the collection. A few worth noting include "The Phoenix on the Sword," where King Conan of Aquilonia thwarts a coup attempt with the help of a long dead sorcerer. Another winner is "The Tower of the Elephant," which finds Conan as a thief attempting to steal the wealth locked up in a malefic temple. "The Scarlet Citadel" and "Black Colossus" work so well because the two stories give Howard the opportunity to write extremely involved descriptions of huge battles against a background of magnificently executed scenes of phantasmagoric weirdness. Even the lesser tales contain enough flashes of brilliance and imagination to keep the reader riveted to the page. Conan battles giant apes, evil alien beings that turn humans into shrunken dolls in a magical pond, a vicious god preying on decadent citizens of an ancient city, and slays frost giants in pursuit of a goddess, all without batting an eye. Swords flash, armies clash, women fawn, sorcerers cast spells, and Conan wins the day in his inimitable taciturn style. All of the stories move at a lightening quick pace.
Sure, a few of the stories here follow a rather formulaic structure, but that doesn't make them any less entertaining. I think there's a tendency by some people to sneer at fantasy books and stories; they argue that the simplistic writing style and predictable plots do not inspire readers to peruse REAL literature, and to some extent that claim may contain grains of truth. But as Patrice Louinet makes clear in her introduction and analysis of Howard's Conan stories, this author was an extremely intelligent, well read individual who infused his stories with elements borrowed from Bulfinch's works on ancient and medieval history. As for simplistic writing style, you won't find much of that here. Howard routinely uses elevated prose in the construction of his stories, and while he's no Clark Ashton Smith or H.P. Lovecraft in terms of OED inspired vocabulary, his language still rises much higher than you would think.
The only problem I had with the book concerned Louinet's assessment of Howard's Conan canon. I haven't read much about the underpinnings of writers like Lovecraft, Howard, and the other fantasy writers in the 1930s, but I always suspected the success of these authors rested heavily on the Great Depression. Howard wrote about a warrior of great physical, mental, and moral strength, perhaps, because a man with such traits was necessary in a time of great social turmoil. American audiences yearned for stories that created worlds where bread lines, bank closings, and starvation didn't exist. Moreover, they longed for characters that could triumph over seemingly insurmountable obstacles with nothing more than their native abilities to fall back upon. Anyway, read these stories. All fans of fantasy/horror/science fiction should pick up a copy of this book immediately. I can't wait for the next volume.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elemental Myth Burns on the Page, December 4, 2003
John C. Hocking (Ann Arbor, MI United States) - See all my reviews
In a society in which self-conscious irony has become standard in virtually every form of entertainment, these stories shine with the blinding light of 100% sincerity. This is pulp fiction elevated to the level of myth. Howard's hero moves through, and dominates, the Hyborian Age in much the same way that Beowulf and Odysseus do in their own, older, more respected, myths.
Conan is a character hewn from the fabric of saga and legend; dark, dangerous, unpredictable, as much an embodiment of the forces of nature as a human being. His world comes alive as a wildly imaginative patchwork of ancient and medieval history, filled with haunting references to our own past yet existing as a independent world as lushly alive as any in fantasy.
These stories have been more influential and imitated than practically any others in genre literature. But they have never been duplicated. Howard's prose is shocking in both its power and diversity, frustrating attempts at either imitation or parody. Sharp, hardboiled sentences drive home the fierce brutality of combat. Vivid, often lyrical, passages describe the sprawling majesty of the Hyborian world. Darkly ominous writing depicts the creeping horror of otherworldly sorcery.
If you know Conan only from film, comics or pastiche novels, you don't know Conan at all. Read Robert E. Howard's fiery words and discover some of the most potent, most primal, fantasy ever written.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Howard's Barbarian Can Finally Be Seen, December 2, 2003
It's not a question of artwork. I like Schultz just fine. He may not be to some people's tastes, but Vol 2 and 3 will have different artists. I personally think it's cool that Del Rey kept the artwork; it's a classy move, one you don't often see in TPBs anymore.
Nor is it a question of packaging. They ended up running the original artwork of the artist who appears on the inside. A bait and switch would have been to run a Frazetta cover and have different illustrators inside. The book is nicely packaged and has a great retail price. 98% of the people who buy it won't notice the niggling little things that may or may not be wrong with the production.
No, what an online review really should be all about is the fiction, the stories, that Howard wrote. They get under your skin and make you want to jump around. It is impossible to calculate the influence of Robert E. Howard on the world of fantasy. And these stories have been inaccessible for far too long--over ten years!
Now, they are even better. Presented in the order that Howard wrote them, and with fully-restored text, to boot. Now that's a project that deserves some attention. This is Howard's most famous work, and it took a lot of people's blood, sweat, and tears to get them out for public consumption. This is an auspicious time, quite possibly the beginning of a Second Howard Boom!
Howard was an original. He is often imitated (badly) and never duplicated. He was lightning in a bottle. Read these, the true Conan stories, and you can see for yourself why Howard is considered one of the greatest adventure writers of the 20th century.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally--a complete package, December 10, 2003
First, let me say that this is one of the most important books to be released in a long time. Howard was more or less totally out of print when this book came out, which is utterly ridiculous; he's one of America's best authors/poets, he more-or-less defined the Sword & Sorcery genre... and even if you're too uptight to consider his writing classic (which it is...), these are some "good yarns." Yarns that nobody has been able to top in 60 years. His writing -takes- you to these places with a blend of unresistable exoticism and brutal, grim realism. And finally we get the original texts. I've compares some of the stories to the de Camp edits, and there are a LOT of changes. Surprisingly, most of them are stylistic--and I wouldn't say they're improvements over Howard's. De Camp was just a meddling fool.
Ok, so it's not quite a complete package yet. There are two more volumes that have yet to come out. But if they are -anything- like the one I am holding in my hand, this is by far the most complete collection of pure REH Conan the world has ever seen!
Not only does this edition have the first 13 Conan stories (in order of composition), but it also has the poem, Cimmeria. Everywhere I look online, this poem is missing its last stanza, but not here. And we get a small note about its inspiration from Howard. Moreover, this book finally puts into publication the synopses and fragments (at least, the ones pertaining to the stories herein) we've all read about online, but that few have gotten a chance to see. They're more exciting to read, somehow, than the completed versions by de Camp and Carter.
And we get MORE treats: a second final draft of the Phoenix on the Sword, which provides more exposition about the Hyborian Age and Conan's character. As a general rule of thumb with Howard, the more the better--because these are all short stories, edited down to the most compact packages possible at the behest of his contemporary editors. But his writing is so tight to begin with, that a spare paragraph or line of explanation is pure gold to an audience who isn't purely interested in the action--and it's not enough to bother anyone who is.
I was also pleased to find his "Notes on Various Peoples of the Hyborian Age," which I have been unable to find elsewhere, but which was also a lot shorter than I thought it would be.
Basically, this is Ultimate Conan. The tales are captivating... a real treat, as others have described. And finally we can get EVERYTHING relating to them, in their pure form, in a nice package, and with copious illustrations (they aren't as bad as one fellow described them... but they aren't Frazetta either).
Thanks, de Camp. You screwed everything up; Wandering Star and Del Rey will take it from here. Thanks guys, for all your hard work!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally!, December 2, 2003
By A Customer
Finally, Conan presented as Robert E. Howard intended. If you were hooked on Howard by reading the old Lancer/Ace versions of Conan, you ain't seen nothin' yet. The Del Rey edition presents Howard's stories as he wrote them, no editorial interference, using the original typescripts whenever possible. For me, it was like reading Conan for the first time.
Not only do you get thirteen Conan stories, but also several fragments/synopsises and a rough draft or two, an interesting look into Howard's creative process. Also included is Howard's "Hyborian Age" essay, which outlines beautifully the world in which Conan lived, a couple of maps drawn by the author himself, and a few other goodies.
The book is beautifully packaged with fine illustrations by Mark Schultz and an introduction by Howard scholar Patrice Louinet. I can't wait for the next volumes!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about time!!, January 12, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I first heard about a book collecting the tales of Robert E. Howard's swordsman Conan I was very encouraged. That a noted artist like Mark Schultz (a friend of mine) had been approached to provide the illustrations I knew this was was going to be a beautiful book. When the limited edition hardcover finally saw print I ponied up the hard cash and didn't hesitate for a minute. The book is magnificent. The pure Conan tales without the stain of what passed for editting all those years ago are gone, and this is Mark's best artwork yet. Later, when he told me about the deal to get this gorgeous book released in a trade paperback, I waited, patiently. Again, I was amazed at the care that went into this new mass market edition.First up, it took too long for this to happen. Having read the old Lancer editions with the stunning Frazetta cover art I've always wanted to see the heavy handed editting by Lin Carter and L. Sprague DeCamp exorcised from Howard's original stories. I've never cared for the idea that someone can "fix" another writer's "mistakes". It's the height of arrogance to assume such an idea and to follow through with it should be a punishable crime, especially if the author is dead and gone and consequently has no say in the matter.The other wonderful element that sets these tales apart from previous editions is the dropping of the artificial fabrication of the character's chronlogically shoehorned adventures. This was created to give Conan a linear path, so to speak, but it was not how the original readers read his tales. In this edition and the following two volumes the reader today gets pure Robert E. Howard and now has the opportunity to read the tales in the order in which they were published. This is done with profound respect to the author. This is the Conan that the imitators can't write about. In defense of Mr. Howard, why would anyone want to read the imitators over the original? Was there a better writer of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes than Arthur Conan Doyle?For the dissenters who prefer the fiddled with versions over the originals, well, there's still eBay. For those of us who've read the powerful work of Robert E. Howard without the tinkering (which it never needed to begin with) we now have Del Rey books and Wandering Star publisher to thank for bringing this version to the bookstands across the country. It's about time!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Conan for the Masses, December 3, 2003
This is just a wonderful wonderful book. Robert E. Howard can virtually grab you by the collar and drag you into his stories with his breath-taking prose. His style isn't purple, but is dynamic and powerful. You'll want to return to this book again and again.
Patrice Louinet's "Introduction" and "Hyborian Genesis" are wonderful essays, the kind of thing that should have appeared years ago, but didn't. As editor/essayist he deserves praise for his work on this incredible volume.
Conan was one of Howard's most commercial constructs, and by this time Howard was so developed as a prose stylist that "breath-taking" does quite literally describe his incredible style. This material is simply wonderful.
Looking down the list of stories, I know the reader will find many fine tales here. Things Howard did later became sword & sorcery clichés, but Howard did them first, and when he did them they were new and fresh. He took the adventure story and combined it with the tale of supernatural horror-and he did it incredibly well. The reader will get a thrill from the stories in this volume.
"The Pool of the Black One" is one of my personal favorites from this group. As it is Conan's intellect as well as his physical strength that elevates him to the position of captain of the pirate crew.
"Queen of the Black Coast" is a powerful, emotional story. The passion between Conan and BÍlit is intense, and the tragedy of the story's ending is just incredibly moving.
"The Tower of the Elephant" is a classic in the field. Its intricacies are amazing, considering the straight-forwardness (seemingly) of the plot. For a mostly off-stage character, Yara is incredibly menacing.
"The Phoenix on the Sword" is, of course, the masterpiece that started it all. Plus, the reader gets to see the last two drafts of this story-surely a treat.
"Iron Shadows in the Moon" is another personal favorite. The introduction is especially dramatic, even for Howard. We immediately begin to empathize with the female lead, and the menaces are varied and awe-inspiring: the carnivorous ape, the pirates and finally the living iron statues. This tale packs a triple treat.
The public may not have been breathlessly waiting for this package of unadulterated Howard tales, but it should have been. Buy two copies, because you'll wear the first copy out with repeated readings in no time at all.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for every fan of dark fantasy!, December 3, 2003
If you love the fantastic tales of David Gemmell, Michael Moorcock, Poul Anderson, even H.P. Lovecraft; or if you're interested in exploring the roots of fantastic fiction which led to the modern epic masterpieces by Tolkien and Brooks, then The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard is an addition to your library that you can not live without!
Decades before Tolkien and Brooks had created their imaginary worlds of Middle Earth and Shannara, Robert E. Howard was spinning tales of Conan the Cimmerian set in the Hyborian Age - a meticulously developed world set in our Earth's distant past. Philosophizing that barbarism is the natural state of humankind, Howard's Conan tales are violent action-filled stories that will definitely please fans of Gemmell, Moorcock, & company. Given their weird and supernatural elements these tales will also thrill fans of H.P. Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos and weird fiction in general.
As stated in other reviews here on Amazon - the most exciting thing about this book is that it contains original tales by Robert E. Howard (and Howard alone) exactly as the author intended them. Other volumes of Howard's Conan tales were marred by the additions and "corrections" of editors as well as the inclusion of non-Howard stories written to fill in the blanks in Conan's career. This books is pure Robert E. Howard.
Pure Howard means that between the pages of this book you will find tales of high adventure, bloody action, and magical sorcery. Howard's style is poetic and highly visual. His Hyborian Age vividly comes to life and immerses you in a world that is at once fantastically otherworldly and at the same time strangely familiar. These tales are great fun to read and are a superb example of the best of Fantasy, and more specifically, of Sword and Sorcery. Pure Howard also means that these tales are a product of the era in which they were written - they are NOT "politically correct". This is not meant as a negative critique but rather as a simple warning. Some readers may find passages of Howard's writing to be sexist or racist.
Physically the book itself is very impressive. In spite of the low cover price this is not a cheap paperback by any means. It is sturdy and should withstand years of repeated reading. The artwork by Mark Schultz is, for the most part, excellent; a few drawings here and there are lacking in detail or bravado, while others (especially the full page drawings) are simply fantastic. Both the introduction and the essay by Howard scholar Patrice Louinet are superb and as much essential reading as the stories themselves. The extras - including Howard's background history "The Hyborian Age", rough and unfinished drafts, and Howard's maps of the Hyborian world all significantly enhance the reader's appreciation and enjoyment of Howard and HIS Conan.
I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy sword and sorcery and dark fantasy. However, even general fantasy fans will find much of interest here.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Achievement - At Last Pure Howard!, December 4, 2003
Robert E. Howard stands alone as the Father of Sword and Sorcery fantasy adventure. There have been many -- far too many -- pastiches over the years of his essential S&S character, Conan the Cimmerian, by inferior authors. This has done REH the disservice of blurring (if not obscuring) his real literary achievement in this genre.
This book is the long-awaited reintroduction and revitalization of "pure Robert E. Howard." It represents the work of several Howardian scholars over years of effort. As an added value, the book's annotations and scholarly discussion by Patrice Louinet -- and the inclusion of some unfinished REH fragments and a variation of "The Phoenix on the Sword" make this a necessary book for any Howard collector or any serious student of his work.
If you have never experienced the power, the poetry, the marvel, the vividness, or the vitality of Howard's work -- then I envy you the initial pleasure and awe of that remembered experience. For those who have read the sundry imitators as well as some true Howard -- this is the book to sharpen your awareness of the differences. Don't accept imitations -- this is the pure stuff! A must have, must read/reread for any REH enthusiast.
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