I first read Conan waaaay back when I was a wee nipper. I read a few of the short stories in between reading the 'Lord of the Rings' books and I remember really enjoying them. I don't really remember what happened in the stories - it was so long ago - and my image of Conan ended up being defined by the Arnold movies and the Marvel comics, both of which didn't bowl me over (though I do like the original Conan movie for what it is).
As I was having trouble appreciating fantasy works other than 'The Lord of the Rings' (as I mentioned in a previous post) I decided to pick up Conan again in the form of the Chronicles book, which I purchased last year but never got around to properly reading. I did say in my previous post that even Howard couldn't satiate my need for good fantasy fiction, but since I read him a long time ago as a teenager and didn't really immerse myself in his world I decided to have another stab.
It's bloody brilliant. The mood, the atmosphere, the sheer visceral in-your-face-ness of it all. All these ridiculous notions of a bare-chested furry-pants wearing bodybuilder have been struck from my mind. The world is so evocative and involving I want to run a roleplaying game there right now! The sheer size of the background of it all shocked me and it gives you all the info you need to travel the world that Howard envisioned. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Could this be the setting that saves me from total LotR domination? That is yet to be seen, but at the moment I've not compared Howard to Tolkien in any way. That's a good sign.
I also read the life history of Howard in the back of the book, from his beginnings to his tragic end. Man, it is a real sad story and kind of made me down, but reading the work he produced... God, the man was good.
Nice one, Bob.