Robert E. Howard is the author responsible for everyone’s favorite savage, Conan the Barbarian, and the ass-kicking puritan hero Solomon Kane. His stories ushered in the birth of Sword and Sorcery fiction, where personal tales took precedence over saving the world, and quite often heroes only had their swords, wit and brawn to rely on against the forces of the weird and supernatural.
“Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars– Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.”
–The Nemedian Chronicles.
Tell me that paragraph alone doesn’t want you to pick up a blade and go down swinging in Hyborea? I think every GM could learn a thing or two from REH’s writing. Evocative to the point of being lurid, his descriptive writing is a standard I aspire to in pulling off narration (albeit in much less words lest my players fall asleep to my droning.)
So let’s celebrate by reading a few of Howard’s work courtesy of Project Gutenberg Australia: