Read king kull by Robert E. Howard Online


The epic fantasy saga of the mighty warrior of Atlantis and ValusiaKULL! As powerful, courageous and awesome as CONAN!After Conan, King Kull is Robert E. Howard's most famous character. Mighty warrior of the fabled realms of Atlantis and Valusia, Kull is one of the most vivid figures in the entire field of heroic fantasy. Thrill to his strange and violent adventures in oneThe epic fantasy saga of the mighty warrior of Atlantis and ValusiaKULL! As powerful, courageous and awesome as CONAN!After Conan, King Kull is Robert E. Howard's most famous character. Mighty warrior of the fabled realms of Atlantis and Valusia, Kull is one of the most vivid figures in the entire field of heroic fantasy. Thrill to his strange and violent adventures in one the the greatest sagas ever written!Not only did Robert E. Howard excel in pictures of strife and slaughter, but he was almost alone in his ability to create real emotions of spectral fear and dread suspense. - H.P. LovecraftCover illustration by Chris Achilleos...

Title : king kull
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 7668722
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 187 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

king kull Reviews

  • Jim
    2019-05-24 13:23

    Read by Todd McLaren & downloaded from my public library. You rock, Library! The introduction by Steve Tompkins is long, over 30 minutes. Almost immediately, he puts down ERB's John Carter. He said something about Carter's ego being so big that Helium, the city he rules, is well named. Seriously? He crapped on ERB's character?!!! I'll bet most Kull & Conan fans like John Carter, too. I do, although not as much, but that's just unnecessarily rude. It's not a contest about whose sword is bigger, you know.While Tompkins had some good material about REH, he went on forever. (Talk about a large ego!) I found myself with less & less patience for his opinions, so after enduring him for 20 minutes, I came back in to the house & figured out where he quit so I could start in on the actual stories. Tantor Media if you are reading this, please be advised that putting the introduction & each story into a separate track would be very much appreciated. Just ripping these stories off the CD's & dumping them into files makes you look cheap & uncaring. It's a PITA to FF through the track not knowing how long to hold down the button while trying to do other things like drive or weed the garden.The stories are in their original format, so many are just fragments. I find that frustrating. I know a lot of Howard buffs dislike the Lancer editions because deCamp & Carter finished & heavily edited REH's original words, but they're what I started with & I'm more interested in a full, rousing story. After all, Howard is one of the premier escapist authors. If I wanted accuracy & realism, I'll read a nonfiction book or a historical fantasy.McLaren is a pretty good reader, but this just didn't work as an audio book for me. Where Kull's philosophizing used to be entertaining, I was just impatient with his loose grip on reality & gullibility. Also, if I heard "By Valkha!" one more time, I was going to sic Crom on him, so I quit. I remembered the stories a bit too well, anyway.

  • Terence
    2019-05-27 11:32

    I first read Howard's Kull stories on a trip home from college one Christmas. My brother had picked up a used copy (a very used copy) of a paperback collection, which was falling apart in my hands as I read.My initial reaction was one of disappointment. Perhaps, at that time, I was looking for a more Conan-like story. Whatever the case, when I was building my GR library, I gave these stories but 2 stars. I'm glad that I took advantage of a SF Book Club sale to pick up this reissue of the series because on rereading them, I found Kull much more interesting.Is Kull a "failed" Conan?Well, if you're looking at it from a popularity point of view, then the answer would be "yes." But if you're looking at it from a literary point of view, then the answer is definitely "no." True they're both barbarians from a lost, prehistoric world and both carve a bloody path to the thrones of civilized kingdoms but even a cursory reading of a Kull story shows that Howard was experimenting with a very different type of story and character. Kull thinks. Kull broods (boy, does he brood). Kull has no time for women. Kull is an elemental force but he keeps asking "why."Howard is also experimenting with ways to tell a story. I'd describe most of these tales as "Dunsanian" in flavor - the settings are sketchily laid out and the writing style is very dreamlike (often Kull thinks he's just moving through a dream, in fact) and the characters are passive.This edition has some really nice interior illustrations (I'm particularly taken with the picture of Delcardes and her cat on page 88) and an interesting essay about Howard and the writing of the Kull stories.Definitely recommended for Howard fans, though they shouldn't expect a proto-Conan.

  • Eric
    2019-06-15 16:02

    “You have power, Kull,” said he, choosing his words with more care than he did in the council rooms of the nation, “to make yourself mightiest of all kings, and restore some of the lost glories of Valusia. So. I care little for Valusia—though the women and wine be excellent — save for the fact that the stronger Valusia is, the stronger is the Pict nation. More, with an Atlantean on the throne, eventually Atlantis will become united—”Kull laughed in harsh mockery. Ka-nu had touched an old wound.“Atlantis made my name accursed when I went to seek fame and fortune among the cities of the world. We— they — are age-old foes of the Seven Empires, greater foes of the allies of the Empires, as you should know.”Ka-nu tugged his beard and smiled enigmatically.“Nay, nay. Let it pass. But I know whereof I speak. And then warfare will cease, wherein there is no gain; I see a world of peace and prosperity — man loving his fellow man — the good supreme. All this can you accomplish — if you live!”“Ha!” Kull’s lean hand closed on his hilt and he half rose, with a sudden movement of such dynamic speed that Ka-nu, who fancied men as some men fancy blooded horses, felt his old blood leap with a sudden thrill. Valka, what a warrior! Nerves and sinews of steel and fire, bound together with the perfect co-ordination, the fighting instinct, that makes the terrible warrior.But none of Ka-nu’s enthusiasm showed in his mildly sarcastic tone.“Tush. Be seated. Look about you. The gardens are deserted, the seats empty, save for ourselves. You fear not me?”Kull sank back, gazing about him warily.“There speaks the savage,” mused Ka-nu. “Think you if I planned treachery I would enact it here where suspicion would be sure to fall upon me? Tut. You young tribesmen have much to learn. There were my chiefs who were not at ease because you were born among the hills of Atlantis, and you despise me in your secret mind because I am a Pict. Tush. I see you as Kull, king of Valusia, not as Kull, the reckless Atlantean, leader of the raiders who harried the western isles. So you should see in me, not a Pict but an international man, a figure of the world. Now to that figure, hark! If you were slain tomorrow who would be king?”“Kaanuub, baron of Blaal.”“Even so. I object to Kaanuub for many reasons, yet most of all for the fact that he is but a figure-head.”“How so? He was my greatest opponent, but I did not know that he championed any cause but his own.”“The night can hear,” answered Ka-nu obliquely. “There are worlds within worlds. But you may trust me and you may trust Brule, the Spear-slayer. Look!” He drew from his robes a bracelet of gold representing a winged dragon coiled thrice, with three horns of ruby on the head.“Examine it closely. Brule will wear it on his arm when he comes to you tomorrow night so that you may know him. Trust Brule as you trust yourself, and do what he tells you to. And in proof of trust, look ye!”And with the speed of a striking hawk, the ancient snatched something from his robes, something that flung a weird green light over them, and which he replaced in an instant.“The stolen gem!” exclaimed Kull recoiling. “The green jewel from the Temple of the Serpent! Valka! You! And why do you show it to me?”“To save your life. To prove my trust. If I betray your trust, deal with me likewise. You hold my life in your hand. Now I could not be false to you if I would, for a word from you would be my doom.”Yet for all his words the old scoundrel beamed merrily and seemed vastly pleased with himself.“But why do you give me this hold over you?” asked Kull, becoming more bewildered each second.“As I told you. Now, you see that I do not intend to deal you false, and tomorrow night when Brule comes to you, you will follow his advice without fear of treachery. Enough. An escort waits outside to ride to the palace with you, lord.”Kull rose. “But you have told me nothing.”“Tush. How impatient are youths!” Ka-nu looked more like a mischievous elf than ever. “Go you and dream of thrones and power and kingdoms, while I dream of wine and soft women and roses. And fortune ride with you, King Kull.”As he left the garden, Kull glanced back to see Ka-nu still reclining lazily in his seat, a merry ancient, beaming on all the world with jovial fellowship.A mounted warrior waited for the king just without the garden and Kull was slightly surprised to see that it was the same that had brought Ka-nu’s invitation. No word was spoken as Kull swung into the saddle nor as they clattered along the empty streets.The color and the gayety of the day had given way to the eerie stillness of night. The city’s antiquity was more than ever apparent beneath the bent, silver moon. The huge pillars of the mansions and palaces towered up into the stars. The broad stairways, silent and deserted, seemed to climb endlessly until they vanished in the shadowy darkness of the upper realms. Stairs to the stars, thought Kull, his imaginative mind inspired by the weird grandeur of the scene.Clang! clang! clang! sounded the silver hoofs on the broad, moon-flooded streets, but otherwise there was no sound. The age of the city, its incredible antiquity, was almost oppressive to the king; it was as if the great silent buildings laughed at him, noiselessly, with unguessable mockery. And what secrets did they hold?“You are young,” said the palaces and the temples and the shrines, “but we are old. The world was wild with youth when we were reared. You and your tribe shall pass, but we are invincible, indestructible. We towered above a strange world, ere Atlantis and Lemuria rose from the sea; we still shall reign when the green waters sigh for many a restless fathom above the spires of Lemuria and the hills of Atlantis and when the isles of the Western Men are the mountains of a strange land.”“How many kings have we watched ride down these streets before Kull of Atlantis was even a dream in the mind of Ka, bird of Creation? Ride on, Kull of Atlantis; greater shall follow you; greater came before you. They are dust; they are forgotten; we stand; we know; we are. Ride, ride on, Kull of Atlantis; Kull the king, Kull the fool!”And it seemed to Kull that the clashing hoofs took up the silent refrain to beat it into the night with hollow re-echoing mockery; “Kull-the-king! Kull-the-fool!”Glow, moon; you light a king’s way! Gleam, stars; you are torches in the train of an emperor! And clang, silver-shod hoofs; you herald that Kull rides through Valusia.Ho! Awake, Valusia! It is Kull that rides, Kull the king!“We have known many kings,” said the silent halls of Valusia.Although his adventures are more thrilling and the tales of his exploits are more polished, well-structured, and varied in content and locales I find the personality of Conan the Cimmerian to be not even as remotely as fascinating as that of his predecessor, Kull of Atlantis, and thus I have the uncommon opinion of finding Kull to be the more magnetic hero than his iconic successor. I felt this way from having only previously read The Shadow Kingdom, The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune, Kings of the Night, and By This Axe I Rule! in contrast to the 21 completed Conan stories, and now that I've read every word - completed, unpublished, and unfinished - related to the first hero of the genre Robert E. Howard created and popularized (which, to this day, there still isn't a main consensus among fantasy readers and writers on what to call it exactly) my opinion is all the more firm and stronger. Conan is a deeper and more well-realized character than pop culture's depiction of him would have you think, but nonetheless there's an element of masculine, adolescent wish-fulfillment that can't be separated from the character, and that element keeps me from being a fan of the character (Batman's another character I've only ever liked, not loved). Kull is just as mighty and tough as Conan, but there's a sense of vulnerability and fallibility to Kull's yarns that I never sensed from Conan's, even when the Cimmerian was in the most dire of circumstances.Kull bleeds buckets and survives wounds that would kill lesser men, but Howard never had him survive something as extreme as a crucifixion like he did with Conan. Where Conan can attract and seduce any nubile woman he wants (even unintentionally), Kull has never laid with a woman, and is far from comfortable around them. His strongest relationship throughout his tales is his fire-forged friendship with Brule the Spear-Slayer, and although Howard clearly intended the King of Valusia to be asexual - by invoking death of the author - in this day and age it's hard not see Kull being ignorant that he's homosexual, although either sexuality is welcome for such a macho archetype as the barbarian hero. The weight of the crown of Valusia weighs more heavily upon Kull's brow and the Atlantean chafes more under the chains of command than the crown and chains of Aquilonia did on Conan. There were only 3 stories that took place during King Conan's reign, and one of those - The Phoenix on the Sword - is the first Conan story, which is, to many REH fans (including myself), an inferior rewrite of By This Axe I Rule!. It's the only one where Conan has to deal with an assassination plot. The other two have Conan deal with foreign invasions, and while their terrible for his kingdom and his subjects they at least give him an opportunity to stretch his legs, leave his palace, and be proactive. Meanwhile, with the exception of one (very) short story, all of Kull's adventures take place during his time as King Kull, an outsider to his people and his subjects. When he isn't keeping his guard up for conspiracies and assassination attempts, Kull is fully assailed by the boredom and frustration of kingly duties and Valusian politics and the ennui of achieving the wildest dreams he imagined when he was just an orphan of the mountains and jungles of Atlantis. When he isn't reacting to attempts on his life, Kull is looking for something to get his blood pumping or his vivid mind whirling with possibilities, whether it is; a sealed abomination more eldritch than anything Conan, Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn or any other REH character has ever faced; pursuing a man who only insulted him beyond the borders of his empire; visiting a magic mirror daily to gaze at his own reflection; or meeting an ancient, talking cat. Most of all, Conan's mind, though intelligent and cunning, is generally settled on the present and broods over current struggles, with his only ambitions being pleasure (from women or battle), riches, and adventure. Kull's mind, unlike not just Conan's but so many of Howard's protagonists, is unusually introspective and imaginative. The barbarian king broods over questions that would never occur to Conan (or most of us) to ask, let alone ponder over. Questions regarding life, the universe, and everything. I can't shake the notion that Kull's moody, philosophical, vivid imagination is the best glimpse we'll ever get of one of the fathers of modern fantasy own incredibly powerful imagination...That is, when the king of the most glorious of the Seven Empires of the Thurian Age isn't spilling the blood and splitting the skulls of his enemies.4 1/4 stars

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-06-01 15:03

    Good reliable sword and sorcery. Kull the barbarian king of Atlantis kicking butt and having his scribe take names.In the introduction of the book our organizer of stories goes to great length to tell us that Kull isn't really Howard's warm up for Conan. Look I know I don't have a degree and I'm not an authority but at least to a certain extent I have to disagree. Kull is where Conan goes. There is a more complete feeling (for me at least) in the Conan stories.Still this is a good read and like the Conan stories (and other of Howard's works) can be read over and over with continued enjoyment. If you haven't tried these I can recommend them.Enjoy.

  • Benjamin Thomas
    2019-05-27 15:16

    Several years ago I began what has become a tradition in my reading life. At the beginning of the year I start a new volume in the excellently produced Robert E. Howard collections (Del Rey) reading a single short story/novella each Saturday morning, usually before the rest of the family gets out of bed. It’s a sort of “me” time. I get through an entire collection over about three months and really feel like I absorb the stories rather than just reading one right after the other. This year I turned my attention to Kull, Exile of Atlantis.The character of Kull is usually known today as simply the forerunner of Conan. Often he is relegated to the lesser of RE Howard’s creations seemingly serving merely as a way for the young writer to experiment and hone his skills before turning to the more recognized and mature writing that would mark Conan, Solomon Kane, etc. There is certainly some truth in that but I think that does Kull an injustice. There are some very good stories in this book, including “The Shadow Kingdom” which Howard cited as his favorite of all of his stories and perhaps my favorite, “By This Axe I Rule!” which borrows heavily from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”. Each of the stories are quite a bit different from one another and show a definite progression of Kull as a character, sometimes gruff no-nonsense and even ruthless conquering King and other times compassionate and charismatic leader who acts on other people’s behalf even when no recognition for his good deeds comes his way.The final story in this collection, “Kings of the Night” is intriguing in that it is a crossover between the Kull stories and the Bran Mak Morn stories. Even though Kull lives in a time thousands of years BC, he magically joins the war party of Bran Mak Morn during the days of the Roman Empire and the two characters fight as allies. Pretty cool even though it does mark the final Kull story. Turns out Kull’s right hand man Brule is the far distant ancestor of Bran Mak Morn, the first of his line. I have the Bran Mak Morn: The Last King collection scheduled for next year so that story was a good lead-in.As always with these Del Rey versions of Howard's work, the accompanying essays, untitled fragments, poems, and artwork make for a well-rounded and enjoyable collection. Good reading, and especially recommended for all Howard enthusiasts who lean toward Conan as the be all – end all of Howard’s sword and sorcery work.

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-06-17 10:09

    Here we are again; another installment of Dangerous Dan's Book Reviews, because after all, you can only hide from the law in a brothel for so long before the girls start demanding payment for services rendered.Today I'll be reviewing a short story entitled Kings of the Night by the one and only Robert E. Howard. Kings of the Night can be found in both Kull: Exile of Atlantis and Bran Mak Morn: The Last King. That's because it stars both of the title characters."How can that be?" you ask. Kull lived in an age before the ocean drank Atlantis and Bran Mak Morn lives in England around the time the Romans came. The answer is simple: Magic. Kings of the Night is also a rarity among Howard's stories because there isn't a single monster in it.Kull was a swords and sorcery character Howard created a few years before Conan and it shows, both in terms of concept and writing. Not to say the writing is bad. It isn't. It's just not as polished as Howard's later work. That being said, Howard's prose compared to other fantasy is like drinking your first bottle of Guinness after a lifetime of light beer. Where was I? Oh yeah, Kull. Kull is a barbarian who became a king and struggles between his savage ways and the statecraft involved in managing a kingdom.Bran Mak Morn is the last king of the Picts, a savage people who were great allies of Kull's kingdom of Valusia thousands of years before Bran's time. When we catch up to Bran Mak Morn, the Picts have declined almost to the point of extinction. Bran's not all that different from Kull except that he knows that his fight against the Roman occupation is a losing battle.A nigh-immortal Pictish sorcerer brings Kull to the future, convincing him he's dreaming in the process. Kull plays along with the sorcerer and soon ends up in command of a band of Norsemen against the Romans.Before this story was published, Howard told his contemporary, H.P. Lovecraft, that it contained the best battle scene he'd written up to that point. Howard was right and it might be the best mass battle in fantasy ever written. This thing is Braveheart-violent once things get rolling. The tactics are written with a flair that keeps them from becoming boring but then how could you get bored with limbs being hacked off and a band of Picts and Vikings going up against colossal odds?Until next time, keep your powder dry and your guns loaded.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-06-12 15:06

    Good reliable sword and sorcery. Kull the barbarian king of Atlantis kicking butt and having his scribe take names.In the introduction of the book our organizer of stories goes to great length to tell us that Kull isn't really Howard's warm up for Conan. Look I know I don't have a degree and I'm not an authority but at least to a certain extent I have to disagree. Kull is where Conan goes. There is a more complete feeling (for me at least) in the Conan stories.Still this is a good read and like the Conan stories (and other of Howard's works) can be read over and over with continued enjoyment. If you haven't tried these I can recommend them.Enjoy.

  • Aaron Meyer
    2019-05-24 13:10

    First time reading this volume but I have read most of the Kull stories at one time or another before. What I do like about this is that all the fragmentary stories, poetry, and many drafts are all brought together into one place for everybody to see. In the appendix there is an essay by Patrice Louinet called "Atlantean Genesis" which talks about the development of Kull from Am-ra and how over time as Howard became estranged from writing Kull stories you see Kull evolve into Conan. This volume is profusely illustrated which I absolutely love, for it really gives added flavor to the stories for me.My favorite story has to be Kings of the Night. When you read the following who doesn't feel their heart miss a beat; "The great shield turned the lance and Kull struck back as a snake strikes; the ponderous mace crushed helmet and head like an eggshell, and the very steed went to its knees from the shock of that terrible blow. From the Northmen went up a short fierce roar, and the Picts beside them howled exultantly and loosed their arrows among the retreating horsemen." What an awesome battle was played out in that valley that day! Of course there are more favorites as well, those being "Swords of the Purple Kingdom", "By This Axe I Rule!" and "The Striking of the Gong".All good stories indeed. The latter was very strange indeed which really stuck with me.Kull of Atlantis was definitely a character I wish Howard would of written more of but we do have Conan though, and reading his exploits is kind of an extension of Kull's at least.

  • Simon
    2019-05-28 09:22

    Well, this is certainly one for the Howard completists. Not that it is only such readers who would be interested in this. It is also great for those who just want to read about another of Howard's characters, those who want a change from Conan, although of all of them Kull is probably the most Conon like. If one ignores the various incomplete fragments and unfinished drafts, most of these stories are top notch, up there with his best work.These are stories of Kull, of Atlantis, barbarian and savage who usurped the Valusian throne and then found out that holding onto it was a lot harder than taking it in the first place. Aided by a few trusted advisers and his Pictish allies, he endeavours to resist all efforts to unseat him.Apparently, only three stories featuring Kull were published during Howard's lifetime. A handful of others were found and published in the 60's. All these are collected here, along with the aforementioned incomplete fragments, and arranged in the order that they were written. Throughout, almost on every page, there are hand drawn illustrations to accompany the text and illustrate the story. There's also a good introduction, an informative appendix and notes on the text used in this volume. I probably wouldn't advise starting with this character if you are new to howard, but if you have liked any of his other work, it is worth giving this one a read.

  • Michael
    2019-06-09 08:21

    Howard's stories about Kull of Atlantis are generally more reflective than his better-known Conan tales, and have an air of melancholy that, personally, I think contrasts well with the more conventional "hack-and-slash" elements.Although Kull's world is not as fleshed out as Conan's Hyborian Age, this works to the tales' advantage, as it adds to the age-lost mystery and atmosphere of degeneracy of a world in its last throes, about to be washed away by geological upheavals, a slate wiped clean ready for a new age.There's a fair admixture of cosmic horror of the kind H.P. Lovecraft admired in Howard's works, and also a sprinkling of the sardonic humour that fans of Howard's non-fantasy works will recognise, but which may come as a surprise to those who only know him as a Sword-and-Sorcery writer.Whilst not as commercial successful in their day (in fact, Howard only saw three, I think, published in his lifetime) as the later Conan stories, I think the Kull stories are some of Howard's best.

  • Cwn_annwn_13
    2019-06-18 16:14

    Kull was Robert E Howards pre-Conan sword and sorcery character so you could make a case that Kull is where the fantasy genre began. Kull follows a formula similar to the Conan stories where the stories often resemble horror and/or Lovecraft stories as much as fantasy. However Kull, while similar to Conan, is a very different character also. He is more of a silent brooding character than the more wild barbaric Conan. Through might Kull has become King of a mighty empire but must deal with constant conspiracies against him from within his Kingdom. These inner intrigues and how Kull deals with them are what comprises most of these stories. I found these to be great stories in the classic REH mold. If you have never read any of any Howards work I would recomend starting with the Conan stuff and if you like them Kull should be the second place you go to explore more of Howards work.

  • William Gerke
    2019-05-20 13:27

    A collection of some of Howard's earliest stories. "The Shadow Kingdom" is a masterpiece (and worth reading the closing essay to understand what Howard was doing with this story and it's relationship to the Biblical Saul). The remainder of them are erratic in quality but interesting as a window into the past as Howard develops the vibrant style that would characterize the Conan stories. The inclusion of "Kings of the Night" only highlights the contrast, as it is a later story featuring two other Howard characters. Worth reading for the completist, but casual readers should stick to Conan.

  • Jim
    2019-06-13 09:23

    This Lancer edition has cover art by Frazetta & all the original Howard fragments finished up by DeCamp & Carter (I think). I read this first & always liked their take on the stories the best. Kull is a predecessor to Conan - the same kind of guy. He's a barbarian that took over the country by his honor & fighting skills. One story is almost identical to a Conan story - the one where the king is attacked in his bed chamber & kills them all. He stands sorely wounded with an ax in one hand asking, "Who dies next?" Lots of gory fun.

  • Charles
    2019-06-15 15:14

    There were times when I've liked Kull as a character more than Conan. He seems more thoughtful at times, but overall there's no doubt that Conan is a more consistent, and in that sense more believable, character. Still, it's nice to have this collection of all the Kull stories, as well as some fragments and drafts, because it shows us a lot about the development of Howard's characters across his writing life.

  • Teo
    2019-06-17 09:13

    "Kull: Exile of Atlantis” is Del Rey’s collection of all Robert E. Howard’s Kull yarns, given life not only by the author’s vivid writing, but also illustrator Justin Sweet’s magnificent artwork. Kull, a barbarian, and exile of Atlantis that is later to become Valusia’s most fabled King, is often cited as a Conan prototype and literary forerunner – which is indeed true as, ironically, the last Kull story – “By This Axe I Rule!” was later rewritten as “The Phoenix on the Sword” which is both the first written and first published Conan adventure.But, labeling Kull as a “prototype” draws with the term a notion that in some way the stories of Kull are inferior to the ones of Conan; which could not be further from the truth. Conan is not just a “new and improved” version of Kull, nor is Kull the “inferior clone” of Conan. The two characters, although sharing a similar barbarian origin, are very much night and day when it comes to personalities.Conan was a man of action, who lived for the moment and seized the pleasures of life – the lust for battle, the taste of good brew and the pleasures offered by the embrace of voluptuous wenches. Although Conan had momentary lapses into brooding thoughts and philosophy (see “Queen of the Black Coast”, “Beyond the Black River”, etc.), mostly he did not concern himself with question beyond this earthly life.Kull of Atlantis, King of Valusia, is the complete opposite. While a man of unmatched physical prowess that could undoubtedly go blow for blow with the warrior Conan, Kull’s most recognizable character trait is his constant philosophizing. More often than not, he is seen as sitting on the Throne of Kings in the regal Tower of Splendor, with his heavy chin resting on his clenched fist, consumed in moody thoughts about reality, illusion, existence and the meaning of life. The melancholy in REH’s writing is nowhere as strong as in the stories of Kull. Philosophy is put in focus, while the action remains in the background (save in the Kull/Bran Mak Morn crossover “Kings of the Night” which is all about ass kicking). Unlike Conan, Kull also has no interest in fair maidens. He notes their beauty, but their seductiveness never brings him in temptation. In every such scene, Howard states something like “But [their beauty] meant nothing to Kull”; the man just has other concerns and sees courting and flirtations as trifle affairs of little interest and a waste of time.In many stories, Kull barely lifts a sword; instead, it’s all about what happens in the King’s mind. This certainly won’t win many new readers, especially of the younger generation – I fall in this category, too. But, unlike most my age, I’m actually smart. Today’s readers / audiences of any kind suffer from severe attention deficiency disorder, and the industry adapts accordingly. Instead of depth and quality, we are treated to shallowness and superficial flashiness in music, film and literature. Instead of everlasting and larger than life heroes, we have teenagers with spiky hair saving the world from ancient evils (ahem, “Final Fantasy”, “Eragon” and many other fantasy games/novels/films of today).Having an interest in philosophy in general, I took an immediate liking to the grim Kull, even more so than with any other REH creations. It is just a delight to read these yarns, for I have no doubt that through the characters, REH shared with us his own mind. And it is even more of a delight to realize that my personal views almost perfectly coincide with his. It is amazing how much of a great thinker REH was. Sadly, only three of the Kull’s stories where published during his life. That led to many original typescripts being misplaced by various people who had gotten hold of them after REH’s untimely death. Most of the stories of Kull are in fact working drafts, several pages shorter than their definitive and final versions, but due to the latter being lost have become the next best alternative.Despite being a thinker, that doesn’t mean Kull was a stranger to the call of arms. He was a true King, and most of all – a true man. He shied from no one, neither earthly nor otherworldly foes. Kull valued manliness above all. “And I believe you, for you are different from any earthly man I ever knew. You are a real king and what is greater, a true man,” says an ancient lake-king to Kull. And speaking of manliness, in one Untitled Draft (and by the looks of it, incomplete also) where Kull ventures with his army to the Edge of the World and beyond, there is a scene, a single, three words long sentence Kull addresses his valiant soldiers with, that made me want to rip my shirt apart with my bare hands and growl like a berserker; such is the power of REH’s words.In a way, Kull was a greater adventurer than Conan, Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, El Borak and others. Without meaning to depreciate and disrespect the greatness of the latter characters, for they battled foes both of and out of this world, their adventures where almost always of earthly manner, while Kull’s often venture beyond – they are adventures of the body, the mind, and the soul alike.Kull shares a grim kinship with the last king of the Picts, Bran Mak Morn. The more obvious link between them is Brule, the Spear-slayer, a Pict that is Kull’s most trusted friend and indispensable advisor. But also, Kull and Bran Mak Morn are both tragic characters, with a foreboding future looming above them like an inevitable menace. Bran knows, that, whatever he does, he will ultimately fail in battle and his final mission – to save his people from the pits of barbarism – will go unfulfilled. In several Kull stories, as early as in the very first – “Exile of Atlantis” – the ultimate fate of Atlantis and the Seven Empires is prophesized. “These mountains always were but some day they will crumble and vanish. Some day the sea will flow over these hills—” says Kull.In means of miscellanea, the Kull collection does not offer that much to the reader. The bonuses include the “Am-Ra of the Ta-an” fragments, with the five of them barely stretching on six pages. Also included are the drafts of “The Shadow Kingdom”, “Delcardes’ Cat” (aka “The Cat and the Skull”) and the poem “The King and the Oak”. The appendices include an interesting 16 pages long essay by Patrice Louinet, titled “Atlantean Genesis”.The ending of my every review of a work of REH ends with the same sentence: this is a must for every REH fan, and anyone who values good literature.Rating: 10/10

  • Zare
    2019-06-17 13:17

    Kull seems to be something like a blueprint for the later Conan. He is a barbarian but unlike Conan he does not try to solve everything with his sword. He uses his brains and one can almost feel his disgust with all the plotting and scheming around him that will only make him react with more force and more blood spilling. [return]He can easily be put aflame by disrespect of others and then there is no way that he will cool off without taking his revenge (in one tale he is even ready to go to the end of the known world to punish the man who openly called him a coward and usurper).[return][return]He seems to be a man placed in a wrong time and place - he got to the throne but soon he found out that throne is the most lonesome place in the entire world. Although he tries to do his best (and his kingdom does prosper) he is kept in contempt by his subjects only because of his origin. This seems to hurt him the most.[return][return]Only character that comes to my mind that is similar to the Kull in behavior and temper is Wagner's Kane - but unlike Kane Kull is not immortal and still has some faith in human kind.[return][return]Only thing (same as with Solomon Kane collection) that only makes readers want more is that only about half of the stories are finished stories - others are either unnamed drafts or semi-finished works.[return][return]Nevertheless great collection with some very nice illustrations.[return][return]Highly recommended.

  • Derek
    2019-06-03 11:28

    Except for the introductory story "Exile of Atlantis", they all operate consistently and common themes repeat. Kull is king, and trouble either comes to him or he goes looking for it. A young couple wish to marry despite social barriers. Kull stands on the brink of otherworldly knowledge.I wonder if Howard ditched the character because the stories were running out of gas. The Conan series as he originally wrote them had greater diversity in terms of plot and setting.

  • Jon
    2019-06-04 12:23

    Kull is a badass.

  • Doug Dandridge
    2019-05-27 13:16

    I have always loved Robert E Howard from the time I found my older brother's Lancer books when I was a child. Conan was of course a favorite, but my imagination was always captured by the Atlantean King Kull, a barbarian who rule the fabled kingdom of Valusa back in the dawn of time. Kull was a more intellectual hero than Conan, always brooding about the metaphysical world, but still ready and able to swing a sword in order to crush a tyrant or kill a wizard who threatened his rule. I bought this book back in 2011 on Amazon and was happy to revisit these fields of imagination. Kull is a wonderful hero, and one that I hope one day is the subject of a great movie, unlike the one that was made about it. Heartily recommend this volume.

  • Craig
    2019-05-25 14:16

    The Kull stories tend to be somewhat overlooked in the wake of Conan and Solomon Kane and some of Howard's other work, but they're good, interesting adventures. Kull tends to be more introspective and less consistent than Conan, and his character is never quite as clearly defined. This comprehensive audio version is comprised of ten discs, including a lengthy introduction and afterword, and draft versions as well as the final versions of some of the stories. It's good for completists, but those who just want to be entertained might want to just skip over the commentary. The sound quality is excellent, though I thought there should have been a clearer signal when one piece stopped and another started. Great for a long car ride!

  • David
    2019-06-14 09:32

    Out of the various heroic incarnations Howard produced in his short but fruitful career, Kull is a bright spark that comes and goes all too quickly. Only three Kull stories were ever published in Howard's lifetime, so to read a collection containing unpublished works starring him is a real treat. Kull is like Conan in a lot of respects, but bears a philosophical side that gives him a more brooding aspect. I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys swords and sorcery fiction, combat scenes, or the dramatic tension between individual freedom and the preservation of society.

  • Raymond
    2019-06-08 09:18

    Kull is often considered a mere prototype to Conan and while the story 'By this Axe I Rule' was indeed rewritten as a Conan story the Kull stories are still very much their own thing. They're less action-oriented and more focused on intrigue, mystery and philosophy, and the setting itself is entirely alien and not based on psuedo-historical precursors to ancient and medieval states like Hyboria. In the essay 'The Hyborian Age' however it is described as a precursor to the Hyborian world, but this idea seems to have occured to Howard only after he was done writing the Kull stories. Howard did not put the same effort into Kull's universe and ultimately the main character and his world is not as fleshed out as that of Conan. For this reason the stories "merely" end up being -almost- as good. Extra points for the story 'The Shadow Kingdom' which no doubt is the origin of the lizard people conspiracy theories of today.

  • Nathan Shumate
    2019-05-21 15:14

    Not as good as the last time I read it, but I'm not sixteen anymore. Robert E. Howard was like the Grandma American fantasy: primitive and self-taught, but energetic and primal.

  • M
    2019-06-13 16:10

    This is a pretty good collection of stories featuring a very entertaining character. Kull, as the title states, is an Atlantian exile, but one from an age when Atlantis is a barbaric continent rather than a hyper-advanced one. He has travelled to the mainland and become king of Valusia, the greatest of the ancient and decadent Seven Empires, but being a barbarian, Kull spends as much or more time fighting people as he does actually ruling. Kull is, of course, a sort of prototype for Conan, but he's somewhat different and I really like him. He's brave, often to the point of foolhardiness - there are times when the only thing preventing his death is somebody else defending him while he goes into an all-out attack. Kull has little patience for politicking or statecraft, instead preferring more direct solutions when possible. This is best show in By This Axe, I Rule, possibly my favorite story in the collection, where Kull feels enslaved by the weight of laws and tradition in Valusia, finally smashing the tablets of law and declaring himself an absolute ruler. There are a number of stories here, with the intact ones largely being either short, philosophical musings or stories about Kull dealing with various star-crossed lovers and attempts to wrest the throne from him. Admittedly, this gets a little repetitive, but Howard's writing is pretty good and the stories tend to mix up the details at least a bit to keep things interesting. Plus, there's great stuff like evil serpent men, and even in the more action-oriented stories there's a fair bit of questioning reality and existence. I also loved the longest of the unfinished stories, as it ends with Kull and his soldiers riding off into the unknown, which seems a fitting end for the character. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fragments and incomplete stories here, in large part because Kull didn't sell too well and Howard soon moved on to Conan. Still, what is here is quite enjoyable, and while I do plan to read all the Conan tales someday, I feel that Kull does an admirable job of providing exciting barbarian adventures, and the setting and tone of the stories makes them stand out from the more generic later imitators. In the end, I had a great time with this book, and I do regret that Howard never did more with his first barbarian king.

  • Brendan
    2019-06-02 11:30

    Read about half of this as a fill-in while waiting for holds to come in at the library. Holds came in, so I'm not finishing. Most of these stories were not published during Howard's lifetime, but, to be fair, that's only because they are not very good. If you are familiar with Conan or Solomon Kane stories, you know that they vary pretty widely in quality. These are worse than all of those. "The Shadow Kingdom" is the exception--it moves quickly and sets up a really cool and interesting scenario that could well be the basis of a kickass novel. Unfortunately, Howard abandoned the whole "let's go kick the snake people's asses" storyline, and it doesn't come up again.Of note to completists, I guess, because it allows you to see the origins of Conan and of sword and sorcery fantasy, and Thulsa Doom, the villain in the first Arnold Conan movie, actually comes from one of these, but not really worth reading otherwise. Except for this: Kull is a sinewy warrior king who is also totally gay. I suppose some people might argue that, no, when Howard goes out of his way in every story to remind us that Kull has no interest in women, he means that he just lives for battle and such. To which I would answer, he certainly seems pretty fond of Brule the spear-slayer. Not so shy about expressing his admiration and love for that guy, is he? Is this me, a modern reader, projecting my modern sensibilities onto stories from another era? I mean, maybe, though I think it's more a case of an author from another era exploring some interests on paper that he had to repress in life.

  • Robert
    2019-05-24 16:22

    Though some of the entries are good Weird Adventure fiction, it's best to appreciate this collection of Kull stories in the context of Howard's other work, particularly his most famous, the Conan stories. While Kull is sometimes entertaining in his own right, he and his loyal retainer Brule are certainly prototypes for Conan. It's interesting to see Howard work through the psychological, cultural, and metaphysical ideas that interest him. The weirdness of some of the tales, such as Kull fighting the embodiment of Silence, is awesome, and a breath of fresh air since modern fantasy fiction can seem mass-produced, consisting of interchangeable tropes. The surprising stand-out of the volume is the poem The King and The Oak.Books of this type, though, should have briefer forwards and afterwords, weaving the commentary in among the stories. Not surprisingly, those that were originally published are the best in this volume, and getting the critique immediately after the stories and fragments would make this collection cohesive. As it is, it's a grab-bag, with two stories and the poem repeated (in first draft and final forms) for the sake of completion. Never does the published version vary far enough from the draft to warrant including both. There's also black and white art threaded throughout the edition as well, most of it evocative of the stories they're paired with.

  • Krzysztof
    2019-05-28 13:30

    It is clear that Kull is Howard's earlier creation - the world in which he lives is not as well defined, the stories he takes part in all deal with pretty much the same topics, and there is a sense of the author trying out different things and not really deciding on what the character is supposed to be doing. However, make no mistake - this is not only proto-Conan (despite some strong similarities), Kull is a character in his own right, with his own motivations and philosophy.The Kull stories are not as satisfying to read as the Conan or Solomon Kane ones are, but reading through this was still an enjoyable breeze - Howard's style is, as always, easygoing and inviting, even if, thematically, Kull isn't as interesting as either of the two other characters I mentioned.Those who dismiss this part of Howard's heritage as being "a stepping stone for his better works" may be right in that regard, but are still doing themselves a disservice. I rate it a 3.5/5 stars - for Howard fans like myself it can be a 4/5 (worth reading, if only to see how Howard's style, ideas and interests evolved in time), but for everyone else it's more of a 3/5, which is the rating I'm going with.

  • Dan
    2019-05-26 12:05

    While some view Kull as a precursor to Conan, it is clear from these stories that he is very different from Howard's later creation. Although a barbarian by birth, Kull is more brooding, more troubled by the immortal questions of man. These stories are also more experimental than the Conan stories, which were written when Howard was more experienced. Some of the plots are more awkwardly handled than Howard's better stories, but a few of the stories rank among Howard's best. This volume includes several unfinished stories, which provide excellent glimpses into the creative process of the writer. Not a great starting point for getting into Howard's writings, but excellent if you are already a fan of his work. Includes excellent criticism in the back. A particular pleasure in this edition is the excellent art, which is my favorite of any of the Del Rey Howard books yet.

  • Travis
    2019-06-08 14:19

    Kull is great, as most fantasy stories about heroes ( Conan, Luke Skywalker etc) are on their quest and swear they will some day seize/ free a kingdom by the sheer power of their sword arm and noble heart.Kull is on the theme of 'Okay, you've seized a kingdom. Now what?'Kull has lots of swordplay, monsters and adventure, but there is also political plotting, and the burden and details of actually running a kingdom.It's an attempt at a slightly more mature theme than in most traditional fantasy novels.

  • John Montagne
    2019-06-15 13:26

    Is it Conan with a different name? Not quite, close, but not exactly. Kull has a bit more tact, and seems just a tad more vulnerable. It is a setting which encompasses Atlantis, so my opinion may be bias. I liked Howard's Kull books. In regard to the writing itself - see my Conan anthology review...