Wednesday, December 09, 2009

By This Axe, I Rule

In case you're not familiar with it, the title of this post is also the title of a Robert E. Howard short story about his character Kull the king of Valusia. Tragically, the story was never printed in Howard's lifetime, though he did rework it and this reworking became one of the first Conan stories, "The Phoenix and The Sword."

Why do I bring all this up? Well, I've read a fair amount of Howard. Not everything the man ever wrote, but a pretty good amount, especially of his Sword and Sorcery tales, such as those featuring Conan and Kull and others. And, after all these years of reading these tales, I've finally found my absolute favorite.

Yes, "By This Axe, I Rule" is my all-time favorite Robert E. Howard story. It is not his best writing, which I think came a few years later in his later Conan tales and some of his Western stories, and it's not even his best plotting. But the last five pages alone make this short story one of the greatest ever written, of any genre. The action is pretty intense, but it's truly the dialogue (from which the title is taken) and some of the philosophy behind those words that really make the story here.

So, if you're a fan of hardcore, action-oriented fantasy, you must read this story. Rush out and find it right now. It's probably available in a collection of Kull stories at a local book store, maybe even at the library.

2 comments:

michael said...

I have to agree, the end is pretty awesome. Though my favorite (non-boxing -love me some Sailor Steve Costigan) is still Red Nails.

Ty Johnston said...

Been a long time since I flipped through Red Nails. Maybe it's time to do so again.

And I have to agree about Howard's boxing tales, especially the Costigan stuff. Some solid action writing, and often funny as heck, too.