Review: Conan’s Brethren

I’m a massive REH fan. I own duplicates and triplicates of pretty much everything he’s written, but I don’t have this version, primarily because it’s so large as to be inconvenient, like walking around with a phone book. I bring my book everywhere I go and need it to be mobile. Those 60s-70s printings (was it Ace?) with the Frank Frazetta covers are wonderful, but you do have to put up with some filler by lesser writers like Sprague and De Camp. The new trades are very nice, but the illustrations are annoying. I want REH to tell me what the scene looks like, not the artist! I mean, he’s REH, for cryin’ out loud!

So, in other words, I have never to this day been satisfied by any of the print versions. They’re either too big, have embarrassing covers (like the modern collected weird works series), the intrusion of lesser writers, etc. At least for the most famous works. I’ve found pretty nice editions of his boxing and western stories, strangely enough.

Shiny Shorts

Conan’s Brethren by Robert E Howard
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

If you own Gollancz’s previous Howard collection The Complete Chronicles of Conan (and if you don’t, shame) you’ll want this companion volume. Both are handsome productions, a credit to a mainstream publisher. And both are edited by Stephen Jones.

Conan’s Brethren is a massive 700 page tome full of stories that flowed from Howard’s typewriter. Here are the tales of King Kull, Bran Mak Morn and, of course, Solomon Kane. At FantasyCon 2010 a panel discussion came to an unanimous agreement: Kane was everyone’s favourite REH character.

Howard’s writing may seem dated to the modern reader. It’s flowery and melodramatic. At times you wish he’d just get on with it. Howard’s characters are reflections of each other, bringing a similarity to the stories. And yet it does not matter because, in the main, the stories swirl along at a blistering…

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