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Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" and "Kings in the Night" are the only three Kull stories published in Howard's lifetime and the unpublished "By this Axe I Rule" became the template for Conan's debut story "The Phoenix and the Sword".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.