Tag Archives: sword and sorcery

Conan the Cimmerian

Conan of Cimmeria is the creation of pulp author Robert E. Howard. Conan was introduced to the world in a short story called “The Phoenix on the Sword” in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales. Through a series of fortuitous if controversial events in the decades after Howard’s death, the character grew to become a part of American mythology and culture, one of the most well known fictional characters in modern history.

It is best to know Conan as introduced by Robert E. Howard.

Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black haired, sullen eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.

Howard wrote less than 30 stories featuring Conan during his lifetime. The number of Howard stories featuring Conan represents just a fraction of Howard’s total output; a prolific author who made his living writing for the pulps in the 1920s and 1930s, Howard wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 stories. The Hour of the Dragon was Howard’s only full-length Conan novel. Stories featuring his other characters were revised or rewritten by L. Sprague de Camp and released as Conan stories long after his death, hence elements of Kull stories in particular came to be associated with Conan lore. The original Conan stories by Robert E. Howard were later curated, restored, and released in modern editions now available from Del Rey. These include The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, The Bloody Crown of Conan, and The Conquering Sword of Conan.

There are Conan purists, and there are Conan fans regardless of creator or medium. Aside from the collected stories, Conan has appeared in novels, comics, movies, live action television series, cartoons, RPGs, and video games. Like many Conan fans from my generation, I came to know of his adventures through the paperback story collections published by Lancer, later reprinted by Ace. The Frank Frazetta covers are iconic representations of Howard’s best known character. These editions spawned myriad pastiches in the sword and sorcery vein.

These cover scans are from the library of Christopher Fulbright. Please note that Realms of Night has an eBay page with occasional horror auctions. Follow our page and save us as a favorite seller for updates.

Raven: Swordsmistress of Chaos

The Raven series was originally published in the UK by Corgi in the late 1970s. The covers and general tone of the books seem to be intended to capitalize on the success of the Gor series by John Norman, which was popular at the time. The Gor series, in turn, had enjoyed a springboard launch into the public’s hands by the popularity of the Lancer Conan books. Hence, the Raven books were Sword & Sorcery, and many who have commented on them online refer to them as Sex & Sword & Sorcery. Men who read them as teenagers have written several really great blog posts about revisiting the books as adults. The cover art promised a lot of great stuff. There is no question that these books were written for a male audience. That said, reactions to the books have been mixed. The basic premise of the story seems familiar: Raven is plucked from the slave pits, taken on the road by a gang of bandits, learns martial arts, is named by a prophecy, and becomes a skilled swordswoman who falls into bed with men on frequent occasion. The consensus seems to be that they are neither great nor terrible as forms of entertainment. As usual, a reader must judge for himself.

These novels were co-written under the pseudonym Richard Kirk by Robert Holdstock (author of the modern fantasy classic Mythago Wood) and Angus Wells, a British fantasy and western writer who also worked under a bunch of other pen names. The series ran for five books and was never completed.

The cover art for the Corgi first editions were by Chris Achilleos, linked in the gallery below.

To shop for a list of these titles second-hand on Amazon, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

Michael Moorcock

Michael-Moorcock-authorphotoMichael Moorcock is an English author of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and sword and sorcery. Among his best known works are those in the Elric of Melnibone series, which he wrote throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He is the author of over 100 books and remains one of the most well-respected living authors of fantasy. He made his first professional sale in 1959 to New Worlds magazine.  Elric of Melnibone made his debut two years later in the “The Dreaming City,” which was published in the June 1961 issue of Science Fantasy.

He has been an editor and author working in numerous genres. He was an early member of the 1960s-era Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America (SAGA), alongside luminaries Fritz Leiber, John Jakes, Andre Norton, Jack Vance, Lin Carter, and others.  The London Times lists him among the greatest British authors since 1945. He has won the Nebula Award, the British Fantasy Award, the August Derleth Fantasy Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel, and a long list of lifetime achievement awards from major genre organizations. He was born in London in 1939 and has lived near Austin, Texas since 1994.

To browse the list of his titles currently available in print and eBook editions, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright. Most of these are the work of artist Michael Whelan.