Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Robert E. Howard vs. J.R.R. Tolkien

Which was the better writer?

Okay, I'm not looking to start a fight here. But the subject matter of REH vs. JRR is one I brought up in the messages beneath my "The Duality of Heroes" article over at Rogue Blades Entertainment's Home of Heroics site.

I, in general, find Howard to be the stronger writer. Though I do believe Tolkien had quite a few strengths over Howard, including world building (come on, Tolkien actually created languages for his various races -- though it helped he was a linguist, of course).

So, what's your opinion? Who was the better writer, Robert E. Howard or J.R.R. Tolkien? And please give some reasons why you think so.


E.E. Knight said...

Howard was by far the better "tactical" writer. Tolkien beats him at the "strategic" level.

Ty Johnston said...

That's a perfect way of phrasing it. Wish I'd thought of it!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't compare them, they were very different men writing very different books. Howard was an American writing sword-and-sorcery (as well as weird history) while Tolkien was a Brit writing epic fantasy. They were both godfathers of their genres. But you might as well compare Agatha Christie and Nora Roberts. They're too different.

But personally, I prefer Howard.

Charles Gramlich said...

Howard was much more poetic in his writing, which I like a lot and which is why I'd judge him as my preferred writer. Howard lacked the patience of Tolkien, which may be why REH wrote virtually no novel length stuff. Definitely the world building nod and world building consistency goes to Tolkien. Howard was a professional borrower of names but seldom gave much thought to them from story to story. Tolkien had an academic's focus on detail, which Howard sometimes let slide. However, the action level of Howard is so much higher than Tolkien.