For details on why we decided to call it quits after six years, click here.

A Final Flame-Lit Funeral

Things change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. The Cimmerian blog has been pretty steady for well-nigh five years in providing  coverage of topics both REH-centric and not.

In 2007, Leo Grin typed “The Deathliest Hallow,” opening the TC floodgates for numerous JRRT-related posts from Steve Tompkins and others. Blog entries about David Gemmell, Karl Edward Wagner and Charles R. Saunders have never been few nor far between here at The Cimmerian. Check the archives and tell me it ain’t so. The Cimmerian always supported the fantasy genre that Robert E. Howard loved (and, in the case of sword-and-sorcery, created). From the earliest days of the site, the bloody history of mankind, a topic REH found endlessly fascinating, has been explored.

Perhaps that matters to some. Perhaps not.

The Cimmerian blog seems to have mattered to a few people. To those loyal readers, I raise a mead-horn. Y’all were the best. My utmost thanks to the bloggers who kept The Cimmerian’s bloody sword swinging in the hinterlands of the aether all these years. Nobody involved (Leo Grin first and foremost) ever made a dime from writing for The Cimmerian blog. Love for the works of Robert E. Howard was the primary motivation and criterion for membership here.

The Cimmerian blog will cease as of the second weekend in June. I hope y’all enjoyed the ride.

*Art by Rebel Highlander.

LEO ADDS: Kind of a cryptic announcement that Deuce posted above, so allow me to elaborate a bit.

I was originally fully set on closing down the blog circa December 2008 when the print mag ended its run — I was ready to move away from REH fandom and into other endeavors, and wanted to make a clean end of it all. I figured the other bloggers would easily find new homes at REHupa or at Damon’s TGR blog, and the TC archives could be moved somewhere, and that would be that. But at the time, blogger Steve Tompkins implored me to allow him to keep it going under his leadership. I capitulated, gave up the reins to him. . . and a few months later poor Steve was dead.

TC was very fortunate for Deuce to step in and take over the managerial role at that time, and under his reign he added many bloggers and the hit-count exploded. Me and Steve got maybe 10,000 hits a month, give or take, but under Deuce he built that up to the current total of around 80,000 a month, or almost a million per year — not bad for a fantasy niche blog.

But Real Life issues of various kinds have been piling up on Deuce and me for many months now (that eternal fandom lament), to the point where neither of us is able to give TC the editing and management time it deserves. Remember, this blog was originally an adjunct to the TC print mag, and there was a certain focus and set of standards inherent in that endeavor (set down, it should always be remembered, by my friend and mentor Don Herron). Even though the focus of the blog has grown well beyond REH, I never wanted to lose those standards. Maintaining those standards, I learned from my time publishing the print mag, takes active editing and management: developing themes and subjects around which to post, correcting and enhancing the essays and posts of the newer people who may not be as up on the old scholarship, maintaining a certain editorial voice and taste. Even my own pieces went through this crucible at TC, to their benefit. We used to routinely do this back in the day, and the new crop of bloggers deserve the same courtesy and attention.

But of late, Deuce and I haven’t been able to be that involved — I’m ashamed to say I’ve been so busy I haven’t even been able to read many of the current posts at TC. And so every time Deuce and I see a mistake in a blog post we should have corrected before publication, or a critical take that it was our job as manager/editor to help expand or deepen, we’ve felt like we’re letting the TC name down. If I had it to do over, I would have closed the blog down back in 2008, but I don’t have that time-travel luxury. So now, in May of 2010, with less and less time for it, Deuce and I both decided that we should bite the bullet now, better late than never. The popular TC bloggers will not vanish from the web — some will pop up at the other REH and fantasy blogs you guys visit (REHupa, REH:TGR, Black Gate, et cetera). And many of them have personal blogs as well for you to monitor. I’m sure this move will have the effect of making these other venues all the stronger, and that’s as it should be.

So that’s the story. It’s been a good run (five years for the print mag, some six for the blog) but Life moves on. If you are a reader who wants to keep up with the things TC used to post on, I’d recommend checking out, REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, the forums at (especially the REH-specific forum), and the group blog at Black Gate magazine. If the TC bloggers know where they are heading off to and where you can find them in the future, I trust they will post that information here in the coming weeks. We’ll keep the blog open for them here until June 11, the anniversary of Robert E. Howard’s own death. Soon after that, I expect that the TC archives will be shuttled off to some other site (most likely my personal site at where any of you can continue to access them, and the internet address “” will vanish from the Internet.

Thanks to everyone who, as contributor or reader, helped make TC a going concern for its run. See you around the blogosphere.

He watches from forbidden sites… *

For those heel-dragging Luddites who still see no use in social/business networking sites, I submit this member’s entry at LinkedIn. Whilst I would aver that some of the info presented on the LinkedIn page of His Sleepiness might smack of both bravado and bragadaccio (and it also displays a poor command of the English language; which is understandable, considering his foreign national status), the bottom line is that The Big C is a mover n’ shaker with an absolutely fanatical grass-roots movement behind him. His message, in a nutshell, is “Change.” Now that he’s begun to use the Interwebs in a strategic fashion, I really don’t see anything that can stop him. Log in (while there’s still time) and become wild and free.  The stars are right.

*My thanks to Metallica for the headline…

Maliszewski’s Grognardia Turns Two

My, how time flies. It seems just the other day that I became aware of Grognardia, the fine site owned and operated by James Maliszewski. Suddenly, I find that Grognardia is celebrating its second anniversary and that the industrious Mr. M has cranked out thirteen hundred and nineteen posts in those seven hundred and thirty-one days. As a fellow bloviator, I can testify such is no mean feat.

As I’ve noted before, Grognardia is not just for those who enjoy old-school RPGs. James’ “Pulp Fantasy Library” series of reviews should be read by any fan of the sub-genre. His most recent review (and one of his best) looks at REH’s own “Dark” Agnes de Chastillon. You can see [redacted]’s comments below the review.

Happy birthday, Grognardia.

The Ideal Reader: A Tribute to Steve Tompkins

Friend of The Cimmerian, Scott Oden, wanted to share his thoughts on Steve Tompkins with TC‘s readers. I think they are well worth sharing.
— Deuce Richardson

It has become something of a cliché to say that authors write for an audience of one. Clichéd, but nonetheless true. Most often, this singular audience is the author himself, but some also write for the enjoyment of another, for an individual they hold in esteem: a spouse or loved one, a friend, an old teacher. Sitting metaphorically at the author’s shoulder, this individual becomes their Ideal Reader — a person who, to quote Stephen King’s excellent On Writing, “at various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, ‘I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?’ ”

Steve Tompkins was my Ideal Reader.

I never got the chance to actually meet Steve, nor were we correspondents. I knew him solely through his dense and erudite essays at The Cimmerian; essays filled with insights and deliciously turned phrases that often forced me to reach for my dictionary. From each one, I gleaned a little something about the kind of man Steve was: passionate, eloquent, and generous in both praise and criticism. The highest laurel I can lay upon his brow is to say that he was a world-class scholar of literature; as a writer in his notice, especially one newly published, that forged in me a desire to bring my best work forward.

I have two moments as a published author that I will never forget. One was hearing that my first novel, Men of Bronze, had earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly; the second was casually clicking the link from my blog to The Cimmerian blog and reading an essay wherein Steve Tompkins recommended my work. It was a heady moment, and I doubt he knew how much his approbation bolstered my self-confidence. I was a writer! And I knew it, by God, because Steve Tompkins said so!

In the end, the Fates decided to cut Steve’s life far too short. It is to my eternal regret that I didn’t take time to send Steve more than a cursory thank-you note; I regret I didn’t express how much I appreciated his kind words, and that his essays were like peripatetic sojourns into the dark heart of the fantastic. I regret I did not write faster, so he could have read The Lion of Cairo.

Most of all, I regret not letting Steve know he was my Ideal Reader.

— Scott Oden

DEUCE ADDS: The blog entries Steve wrote concerning Scott Oden’s novels can be found here and here.

LepreCon 36 is coming…

…and George R.R. Martin is the guest of honor. Details from the official LepreCon 36 website lurk below.

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A Gray Misty Realm of Clouds and Icy Winds


Another snowstorm is on the way, and I’m starting to feel like I’m living in Cimmeria.  The last two weeks or so, East Tennessee has been alternating between cold rainy days, cold snowy days, and cold cloudy days, with the sun hardly every to be seen.  The cold rainy days predominate, and those are my least favorite. It reminds me of what Howard, and Lamb before him, wrote about the dark wooded hills of Cimmeria.  The gloomy weather breeds gloomy inhabitants, and I have to wonder if a sort of idea of Seasonal Affective Disorder existed in Howard’s mind long before such a term was ever coined. Texas winters can be harsh, despite its southern latitudes. Thus the dismal religion built around the god Crom, famously described in “Queen of the Black Coast”:

“Their chief is Crom. He dwells on a great mountain. What use to call on him? Little he cares if men live or die. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you dooms, not fortune! He is grim and loveless, but at birth he breathes power to strive and slay into a man’s soul. What else shall men ask of the gods?” 
“But what of the worlds beyond the river of death?” she persisted.
“There is no hope here or hereafter in the cult of my people,” answered Conan. “In this world men struggle and suffer vainly, finding pleasure only in the bright madness of battle; dying, their souls enter a gray misty realm of clouds and icy winds, to wander cheerlessly throughout eternity.”

Thus also the comments in “Phoenix on the Sword” about Conan being unlike his fellow Cimmerians in that he can laugh. I also remember a comment in a letter to Lovecraft where Howard suggests the winter weather of New England might have been partly to blame for the dour fanaticism of the Pilgrim colonies. Oh well; at least East Tennessee winters are comparatively short.

An Update on The Early Adventures of El Borak

Here’s what REH Foundation mover n’ shaker, [redacted], just posted over on the Official Robert E. Howard Forum:

We should start taking pre-orders soon, but I thought folks would want to see the other El Borak cover by the Keegans.

[redacted] also noted that it’s not too late to email the Foundation regarding this volume. The more they hear from fans, the better they’ll be able to determine the size of the print run.

Bradstreet and El Borak

As reported earlier here at The Cimmerian, award-winning artist, Timothy Bradstreet, is the creator behind all of the black-and-white pieces for the upcoming El Borak and Other Desert Adventures from Del Rey. Above is one of his illustrations for that volume (recently posted on the homepage of

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Nu Millennium’s “Conan”: Jason Momoa


Read about it here.*

Words fail me. That’s probably best.

*It has been confirmed on the Nu Image/Nu Millennium site here.