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Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
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Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  198 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews

Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, King Kull, and others that defined heroic fantasy, lived and died in the small town of Cross Plains, Texas. While his books remain in print, Howard himself has fallen into obscurity, his life mired in speculation and half-truth. This engaging biography traces the roots of his writings, correcting long-standing misconceptions, and offers

Paperback, 264 pages
Published October 31st 2006 by Monkeybrain
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Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Howard fans; anyone interested in American pulp literature
Recommended to Werner by: It was a common read in one of my groups
Versatile pulp writer Howard (1906-1936) has, until now, not been very well served by his biographers. The apparently only previous full-scale biography, the 1983 effort by L. Sprague and Catherine de Camp (which I haven't read, but of the particular slant of which I was already informed before reading the discussion here) devoted a lot of its treatment to "proving" de Camp's thesis that Howard's tragic suicide at age 30 must have been caused by long-term insanity. Finn undertook to write an ind ...more
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very useful new Biography of Robert E. Howard from Texas writer Mark Finn. Finn focuses a lot on the Texas nature of Howard's writing, and is one of the first biographers to treat Howard's humorous stories with due respect.
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
I expected an easily accessible style. I expected solid scholarship and a passionate defense of Howard's legacy. What I didn't expect was to get so caught up in Mark Finn's picture of Howard's world that I didn't want to put the book down. Of course you should read this if you're a fan of Robert E. Howard and his work. You don't need me to tell you that. But even folks who only know Howard in passing will get caught up in this one.
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book explores the life and times of one of the most famous writers ever to come out of the state of Texas. During his brief writing career in the 1920s and 1930s, Robert E. Howard did a lot more for imaginative literature than simply create the character of Conan the Cimmerian.

In the early 1900s, Texas was experiencing an oil boom. Practically overnight, a town would spring up around oil wells, bringing all sorts of people, from roughnecks to work the wells, to barkeepers to prostitutes. Th
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read the old Conan 1-12 Ace published paperbacks religiously as a teenager, and have delved back into them (or the Del Ray Conan re-prints) for a re-read from time to time. I have always counted Howards Conan stories among my favorite books. As far as Howard himself I always found him to be a fascinating but confusing figure. I had heard such wildly varying stories of how he was. On one hand he had been portrayed as a macho, brawling, boxing, roughneck fitness fanatic, that in some ways mirror ...more
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the first proper biography of Robert E. Howard that's been written in decades, Mark Finn seeks to adress some the myths that have been circulating about Howard - most of them to his detriment - and also to place him within a particularly Texan literary context. The latter is accomplished by analyzing how early 20th century Texan society affected Howard's upbringing and mindset, and in turn how this filtered into his various creations from Steve Costigan to Conan to El Borak. While this makes ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This is an excellent biography of one of the men that shaped modern Science Fiction. Finn does a remarkable job of helping us understand how the time and place Howrad lived influenced the way he viewed the world and the stories he produced. And who would have thought that Cimmeria was inspired by the Texas Hill Country? After reading this biography, it was an absolute must to go and read the re-released, de-Decamped collections of Howard's stories in their original form and properly released ord ...more
Gonzalo Oyanedel
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El investigador Mark Finn pretende una aproximación honesta y desprejuiciada a la figura de Robert Ervin Howard, cuya imagen fue distorsionada durante años por las versiones muy subjetivas que propagaron continuadores como Sprague De Camp. Un trabajo bastante completo que -pese a ciertos errores de información- aborda de lleno la vida, obsesiones e inquietudes de un autor ampliamente superado por su obra, pero a quien no le faltaron coloridas vivencias en su singular vida fronteriza. Documento.
Karen Kohoutek
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best Howard biography so far, bar none. If you're interested in Howard, read it!
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I came across this fairly recent Robert E. Howard biography while looking instead for the earlier biography by L. Sprague de Camp, and it's just as well that I did, because Finn makes a good case that de Camp performed as much of a hatchet job on Howard as he did on H. P. Lovecraft in an earlier biography.

Unlike de Camp, Finn is actually a Howard fan--he knows and loves Howard's works, and indeed, if you finish this biography you'll likely want to read some Howard for yourself. de Camp, on the o
Richard Behrens
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I went to Providence, R.I. for Necronomicon 2015, the convention devoted to Weird Fiction. To be honest, I went to experience the works of H.P.Lovecraft, but got a pleasant surprise running into the Robert E. Howard Foundation whose table at the vendors' room was a great place to buy a copy of Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, because the man who sold it to me, Mark Finn, was the author of the book.

I first read Howard when I was kid in the form of those butchered paperbac
Jun 28, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the first real biography written about Robert E. Howard since L. Sprague de Camp's fiasco titled Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard. Blood & Thunder: The Life & Art of Robert E. Howard does a great job of correcting many circulated rumors about Robert E. Howard the man, and his work, and especially his life in Cross Plains, Texas.

Having grown up on the cusp of West, Texas (Abilene, TX), I was introduced to Robert E. Howard's work in 1981 (as a sophomore in high sch
Peregrine 12
Thank you, Mark Finn, for providing such a wonderful and in-depth review of Robert E Howard and the world surrounding him. Being a Texan myself, I especially appreciate the focus you give to the attitudes and belief systems prevalent during Howard's time and even today. It's hard to articulate the culture, but you have done an excellent job here. You have made REH come alive and seem as a real, understandable person and not a manic-psycho depressive who lived in a constant state of paranoia (as ...more
Jayme Blaschke
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A magnificent examination of the life and works of Texas fantasy author Robert E. Howard, Finn dispels myths and delves deep into the man's troubled personal life through extensive research. Howard's life in the tiny, West Texas town of Cross Plains come to vivid life under Finn's steady hand--Finn's passion for the subject matter is almost physical in its intensity.

This is a short review, but make no mistake, this is an engrossing book that will bring the reader a whole new appreciation for How
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read a later edition of this book which I don't see here that includes additional material.

The constriction of Howard's circumstances and inevitability of his suicide ride the narrative throughout the book, but there is joy and humor to be found in his life. Finn places Howard and the reader firmly in Texas and though the state is vast, there was a world beyond that Howard yearned to see and never would. He made his own world through a passion for history, a violent imagination, and great tal
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
A very quick read -and fascinating- about the man who wrote the Conan the Barbarian stories. Mark Finn's purpose is to point out the importance of Howard's small-town Texas roots and he shows that REH's writing was about much more than Conan. He wrote poetry, boxing stories,horror, historical fiction( mostly set in the time of the Crusades ),and increasingly, Westerns. Ultimately,it is a tragic story, as REH committed suicide at the age of 30. Finn explores possible reasons why he did that. And, ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
A great backgrounder on a king of pulp. Texas blood in his veins runs into his work. Disappointed with limited insights on Conan series. A mere footnote here. I assume author felt this territory was covered by others and wanted to show the larger breadth of the man. A shame considering Conan's appeal and the fact the cover art is of Conan to draw you in (draw sales). Putting the book down early as the next bit is Novalyn Price notes which I would prefer to read in her novel One Who Walked Alone. ...more
Martin Rundkvist
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it
This biography is well argued but poorly written. When the author reaches for a slightly more literary phrase, he often grabs hold of almost but not quite the right word. This could be helped by professional copy editing. But another weakness is neither the author's fault, nor possible to do anything about. This is simply the biography of a man who lived a short and uneventful life.
Nov 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Very interesting, especially for Howard fans. Does its best to make sense of Howard's rather tragic life (he committed suicide at age 30) and rehabilitate his literary reputation. Although he he was mostly published in the ghetto of pulp magazines in his lifetime, Howard does deserve to be recognized as one of America's great writers.
Vincent Darlage
Mar 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
I really enjoyed this look at the life of Robert E. Howard. It seemed far more balanced and scholarly than any other biography of Howard I have ever read. Top notch work. Now, this is how one should write a biography. Engaging to the last, it kept me going even though I have other pressing matters at hand to do.
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Probably the best biography of Robert E. Howard (there aren't too many, but I know one of which is not worth the paper it was printed on). Mark Finn really shows what a complex and driven person REH was, and also how misunderstood he was and is. A must read for fans!
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The best biography of Robert E. Howard hands down. I love how Mark Finn brings in Texas as being so much a part of REH. You owe it to yourself to read this book and to learn about a creative genius so many do not know about.
Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard by Mark Finn (2006)
Jouni Virtaharju
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
A well-researched biography of REH. The reader gets a glimpse of the pulpster's life in the early 20th century Texas.
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
interesting glimpse into Howard psyche
rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2018
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Jul 12, 2008
Ehsan Knopf
rated it it was amazing
Jan 09, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jan 10, 2009
Amedeo Scotty
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Jan 19, 2016
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Mark Finn is an author, actor, essayist, and playwright. His biography, Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, was nominated for a World Fantasy award in 2007. His articles, essays, and introductions about Robert E. Howard and his works have appeared in publications for the Robert E. Howard Foundation, Dark Horse Comics, Boom! Comics, The Cimmerian, REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, The Ho ...more
More about Mark Finn