Tuesday, January 28, 2020

My Life As A Writer: David Stewart Reviews "Kull: Exile of Atlantis"

Author David V. Stewart did a review of Kull: Exile of Atlantis, a collection of American literary legend Robert E. Howard's pre-Conan stories featuring the hero Kull.

I have a copy of this volume, as I have every volume in this series, and I can confirm everything Stewart says in his review. This is a fantastic volume, well worth buying a physical copy of and putting into your private library. You will be able to see where Howard got the ideas that would ultimately become Conan the Cimmerian, how that voice would develop, and yet this character--Kull--would remain separate and distinct from Conan.

Howard's conception of Atlantis is very much a proto-Aquilonia, with Kull already on the throne as a successful usurper, and many of his adventures concern threats to his rule. Many of the supernatural elements here show the influence of his penpal, contemporary, and colleague H.P. Lovecraft. This is most obvious in the crossover story (also featuring Bran Mac Morn), "Kings of the Night", wherein Kull falls into a dream that takes him ages in time forward to Bran's Roman-occupied England and Kull assists Bran in a battle of many rebellious barbarian tribes against the Romans. Both kings are served by a mystic/sorcerer sharing the same name, implying it is the same man, so we're following the Dreamlands segment of Lovecraft's Weird Fiction mythos and not so much the squamous stuff he's famous for.

Get this entire series of pure Howard fiction. If Kull isn't your favorite, chances are that you'll find Bran Mac Morn, Solomon Kane, Conan, El Borak, Black Turlough, or yet another of his characters to be your huckleberry. This is brilliant stuff, and as with Lovecraft and Tolkien it's clear that Howard was far more talented than he let on in life and did far more work that most perceived before he killed himself. Two-Gun Bob is an American treasure, a literary legend, and his works--his works, not the pastiches and hackups--should be read by everyone serious about keeping good fiction alive for the future.

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