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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I'm Reading - 8/26/10

The Further Chronicles of Conan contains three novels featuring Conan the Barbarian; all written by Robert Jordan.

Though I read it far less than I used to, I am quite a sword and sorcery fan (especially multi-book series'). I've got books by Eddings, Tolkien, Brooks, McCaffrey, Kurtz, LeGuin, Watt-Evans, Donaldson, Pratchett, Rosenberg, Anthony, Gygax, Hardy, Flint, Boyer, the Hendees, Cook, DeChancie, Blaylock, Moorcock, Lieber and some more I can't think of at the moment.

For the first six books or so, the BEST writing in any sword and sorcery book/series I've found was Jordan's The Wheel of Time. The last few books lapsed into long, descriptive passages with little happening, and I don't think it is a top flight series anymore (Jordan died and the last three books in the series are being completed by Brandon Sanderson, using materials Jordan left behind). But for a time, Robert Jordan's writing style and story-telling scope was outstanding.

Before embarking on The Wheel of Time, Jordan wrote six original novels featuring Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian, as well as a movie tie-in for the second Arnold Schwarzenegger flick.

Robert E. Howard was a prolific writer of pulp fiction stories in the twenties and thirties before taking his own life at the age of 30. He wrote in several genres, but far and away his most famous creation was Conan the Barbarian. L. Sprague de Camp spearheaded a Conan revival in the fifties and sixties, though some criticize his rewriting of some of Howard's originals. Many authors have written new tales of Conan (who is still under copyright in the US), and it seems to be generally agreed that Jordan's works are among the best of the non-Howard efforts (of course, some will disagree).

I'm going to give this collection, which goes with The Chronicles of Conan; Volume I, a read (you don't have to read the Conan stories in order, and since Barnes and Noble had the second book on sale, here I am), then try one of the recent Del Rey Conan collections featuring Howard's originals. We'll see how they compare.

1 comment:

  1. I've finished the first two stories (which seemed rather similar). As I expected, this Conan is not the comedian-ish version portayed by Ah-nuld S. in the two movies (though he played a more serious Conan in the first film).

    Conan is a bit more of the noble savage and less of the wild barbarian than I expected. That's something I want to compare with Howard.

    Jordan is nicely descriptive without being quite as wordy as he grew to be in the latter half of the Wheel of Time series.

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