Robert E. Howard Readers discussion

Almuric
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Group Reads > June 2012 Group Read: Almuric

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Michael | 305 comments This is Robert E. Howard foray into the Planetary Romance genre, most associated with Edgar Rice Burroughs's Barsoom series.

Although there are some similarities with Burroughs's stories (which we might possibly discuss) the tone is certainly Howard's and I don't think you would mistake the one for the other. Well, we'll see!

A point of order: I said in my notification email that this was Howard's only complete novel, which is not correct, as one of our resident REH experts, Vincent, kindly set me straight on. There's also The Hour of the Dragon: Conan (also titled Conan the Conqueror).


message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 542 comments I thought "A Gent From Bear Creek" was also counted as a novel. Kind of hair splitting as it is just a bunch of his humorous western stories most of which were previously published put together & it was published after he died.


Michael | 305 comments On checking for novels by REH, I did find "Bear Creek" mentioned as being possibly considered a novel, but there seems to be some debate. Same with the long version of "Three-Bladed Doom".


Michael | 305 comments Having just returned from the hinterlands of ufology (never again!) I'm starting in on Almuric. At least this acknowledges itself as fiction!


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I am enjoying Almuric so far. It is an interesting take on the science fantasy genre. Esau Cairn is interesting. I also find his name interesting and wondered if Howard just liked the sound of it, or if he meant some symbolism with the name - Esau, the hunter, and Cairn, a burial mound.


Michael | 305 comments The Biblical Esau was also cast out from his home and lived as a wildman. Contrarily, he was described as being very hairy, while on Almuric, Cairn is notable for being smooth-skinned in comparison with the Gura.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Perhaps Howard found hairy men objectionable, so he altered that aspect of the Biblical Esau - put his own spin on it, so to speak.

I just got to the discovery of the green-stone city. I wish I had known of this when I was writing the Conan RPG.


Michael | 305 comments I've got quite a bit further than that, so I won't say anything plot-wise just yet. I think Howard sets forth very clearly in Almuric his ideal of the barbarian and the barbarian lifestyle. I'm not sure if you've got to it yet, but Cairn does a little soliloquy about "Barbarism vs Civilisation," with no prizes for guessing which he thinks is best!


message 9: by Vincent (last edited Jun 13, 2012 07:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I just got to the council meeting to determine Esau's fate. The hairy men but sleek women aspect of the green stone city reminds me of ERB's Opar - with the ape-men and La. It's kind of like REH combined Tarzan with John Carter as a kind of tribute.

My slow going is because of my PhD classwork this week is very heavy. Normally I read REH much faster than this!


Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments I didnt get this book recently because im reading John Carter series by ERB and Stark by Brackett as sword and planet and didnt want to focus too much on the genre. I choose Solomon Kane collection before this.

I cant wait anymore to get this book now though, just wondering how REH created a world like this.


Michael | 305 comments Vincent wrote: "I just got to the council meeting to determine Esau's fate. The hairy men but sleek women aspect of the green stone city reminds me of ERB's Opar - with the ape-men and La. It's kind of like REH ..."

I hadn't made a connection between Almuric and Opar - that's interesting, though.

I thought the male/female dimorphism of the Guras was a metaphor for REH's view of the difference between barbarians and the civilised. The outdoors life of the males leading them to evolve into perfect, healthy (if hairy and ugly!) physical specimens, while the civilised are basically soft women (that means you and me!).


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments It works on both levels. It's been a while since I've read the Opar stories, so it is possible ERB used it as a similar metaphor. IIRC, La was the last civilized remnant of Opar, and the men, due to catastrophe, reverted to savagery and degenerated.

Just now got to the part where Altha was kidnapped. I notice REH is now using a standard plot device of ERB - the woman gets captured. That was ERB's default plot in most of his novels (John Carter, Carson of Venus, Tarzan, Pellucidar, et. al.).


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments I finished Almuric! What a rousing ending! I loved it!


message 14: by Michael (last edited Jun 17, 2012 09:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michael | 305 comments It definitely left me wishing for an Almuric series!

(view spoiler)

We'll never know the answers now, nor whether REH might have had thoughts of revisiting Almuric.


Vincent Darlage | 633 comments Those are great questions, and it is unfortunate REH never turned this into a series. I suspect he might have because he tended to do that.


message 16: by Mohammed (last edited Apr 15, 2013 09:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Im reading Almuric now and i must say its a very different take on this kind of science fantasy,sword and planet. Its pretty bleak,naturalist realist descriptions of the planet nature,landscape like Jack London in Klondike stories or in Star Rover novel.

I also like so far that Cairn isnt an emotional hero who tries to be good like John Carter, he just want to survive, live free in the barbaric lifestyle of the Guras. So far its far from sentimental which is the only real flaw in John Carter book i read.


Charles (kainja) | 115 comments Not sure if anyone mentioned this. I didn't see it, but from what I've heard Howard was encouraged to write this kind of story by Otis Adelbert Kline, his agent, because of its popularity at the time. Howard put his own spin on it, of course.


Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Charles wrote: "Not sure if anyone mentioned this. I didn't see it, but from what I've heard Howard was encouraged to write this kind of story by Otis Adelbert Kline, his agent, because of its popularity at the ti..."


It can have been more than Kline telling him to write it because ERB is one of the authors REH read, admired.

REH's take on the genre, type of hero in sword and planet remind me of John Erik Stark series by Leigh Brackett. Very similar style,hero compared to Almuric.


Charles (kainja) | 115 comments Yes, Stark is more similar to a Howard hero than an ERB one.


message 20: by Mohammed (last edited Jul 31, 2013 06:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 257 comments Charles wrote: "Yes, Stark is more similar to a Howard hero than an ERB one."

Which might be the reason although i respect and admire the timeless adventure of the best John Carter books, Stark,Brackett style is my fav type in Sword and planet. Cairn,Stark are far from gentleman heroes that win the fair princess.

First time i read a Stark short story that was very weird,creepy like sword and sorcery i thought it was like reading Howard S&S in space.


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