Monday, September 8, 2014

Kull - Exile Of Atlantis!

I've said before that of all of Robert E.Howard's creations, King Kull is perhaps my favorite. Having recently re-read the slim canon of adventures from the pen of REH titled Kull - Exile of Atlantis, I can confirm that opinion. There's something magnificent about Kull, that alas never quite attaches to the personality of the more realistically portrayed Conan. Kull is a cooler head by a mote, and while of barbaric origins seems a bit more comfortable in his royal persona. If I had to separate the two, I'd say that Kull is smart and even reflective, while Conan is savvy with sharp instincts,  Kull is noble while Conan is brave.You might even refer to Kull as a Philosopher-King, but you'd never hang that tag on Conan.

Perhaps the best story Howard ever wrote was "The Shadow Kingdom" which appeared in Weird Tales and debuted Kull, and created (in the minds of many) the genre of sword and sorcery. If so, it's a mighty beginning and remains at least the most atmospheric of Howard's S&S stories. Kull's adventures.  This story along with "The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" and "Kings in the Night" are the only three Kull stories published in Howard's lifetime and the unpublished "By this Axe I Rule" became the template for Conan's debut story "The Phoenix and the Sword". The former is a better story I think, though with little or no magic but fuller characterization for the conspirators.

A lot of Kull's canon didn't find an audience until the 60's in the Lancer paperback which appeared after the enormous success of the Conan series. Under an evocative Roy Krenkel cover these yarns have a real potency and are rife with potential.

Years later, I read them in this Bantam collection which largely reprints the earlier Lancer effort. Ballantine's collection from 2006 is handsome and sturdy and offers up more fragments and drafts. The artwork by Justin Sweet is exquisite and runs throughout the book.

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  1. I’ve recently re-read: The Shadow Kingdom. Really is one of the best REH tales I’ve come across so far. The concept of the ancient Serpent Men still holds up too…When one factors in that this is still a fringe topic of the all-night radio shows (re: Reptilians, David Icke, underground dwelling races etc.) – you realize Howard was way ahead of his time on so many different fronts…Too, I wanted to mention that I’ve recently picked up Dark Horse’s Saga Of Solomon Kane (See Dojo entry for September 29, 2009) at Half Price Books and am quite enjoying that right now. (Some real nice b&w Marvel work by a variety of artists which I missed the first time around.)

    1. Shadow Kingdom has never let me down. I've read it many times. Glad you're liking the Solomon stories, they are above average for the day.

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