Tolkien News (to me)


If one judged by recent posts, it might be hard to tell that The Cimmerian is a “website and shieldwall” for Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien. The Man From Cross Plains has dominated our recent blog activity, but never think we’ve forgotten Tollers. The Cimmerian will be giving the Loremaster of Middle-earth his due in the coming weeks and months. I stumbled upon a couple of news items relating to John Ronald Reuel yesterday. While both concerned revelations that are weeks old (at least), I hadn’t known about either of them and I assume that both articles would be news to many others.

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The Years Are As A Knife

I was still in high school when I found a copy of “Magazine of Horror” #19, the January 1968 issue. I had read some of Howard’s poetry by then, but mostly as headers in the fiction, and a few from comics, and an old Arkham anthology I found in a library, Fire and Sleet and Candlelight.
I remember how shocked I was by the clear-cut suicidal statement it was.

Better the silence and the long black rest;
Better the grey grass growing through my brain —


Better the shot, the fall, the growing stain,
Then one long blindness, shot with crimson pain

Howard speaks of black agony, iron thorns and womwood, gall and vemon, coming years that are long and gloomy black, and finishes with the thought “Even such brains as mine may crash to dust.”
The entire poem can be found on pages 412-3 of The Collected Poetry.

Later I would encounter other Howard poems in a similar light, like “The Tempter” in one of Dennis McHaney’s fanzines, and the two from Skull Face Omnibus, but none will ever succeed in shocking me as that first encounter with Howard’s death-wish expressions did. And to top it off, editor R.A.W.Lowndes used a spot illo from “Weird Tales” of Death on a horse riding a dusty trail to illustrate it. How spot on, as the British say.

Scott Oden’s Views on the Conan Movie Fiasco

‘Nuff said. Mr. Oden (pictured below), novelist and forthright Robert E. Howard fan, weighs in on the slow-motion train-wreck that is the Lionsgate Conan film. Read odenall about it here.

Reasoner and Jones: Two Howard-heads Make Good

Hunt at the Well of Eternity

November has started off with a bang. Two scribes of proven talent and solid credentials vis á vis Robert E. Howard have something to crow about.

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The First Assassin by John J. Miller

first_assassin_frontGood friend of The Cimmerian John J. Miller (who has covered Robert E. Howard positively and perceptively in The Wall Street Journal, interviewed Rusty Burke about the Del Rey Conan books for National Review Online, and highlighted Paul Sammon’s Conan the Phenomenon on his Between the Covers podcast) has released his first novel, a thriller set in the early days of the Civil War. Titled The First Assassin, it’s been getting great buzz from people whose opinions I trust in matters literary:

“An excellent book — it’s like The Day of the Jackal set in 1861 Washington.”

— Vince Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pursuit of Honor

“Packed with fascinating information, superb characters, and sublime plot twists, The First Assassin is one of the most exciting thrillers I have read in a long, long time. This is historical fiction at its best and John J. Miller is the hot new author everyone will be talking about.”

— Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Apostle

“The story moves with swift suspense, but Miller’s real achievement is to take us inside a mindset nearly lost to time, and to create identifiable, sympathetic characters on all sides, including those who are willing to do murder to preserve the Confederacy and its ‘peculiar institution.’”

— Andrew Klavan, author of Empire of Lies

The First Assassin knocked me out. Utterly compelling, the novel sweeps the reader along multiple storylines which converge at one point, one moment, where history pivots on its axis. A skilled writer of non-fiction, here Miller uses his knowledge and research to create a powerful thriller that is completely believable. With its accurate period details and pitch-perfect characters — from house slaves to Washington, D.C. careerists to a mysterious hitman — there’s not a false note in the whole book. Read it and tell me I’m wrong.”

— Robert Ferrigno, author of Heart of the Assassin

On his blog John has written a number of posts on the genesis of his book and the choices that went into the editing and publishing of it. I was particularly interested in his thoughts on print-on-demand, a form of publishing that has really come into its own in recent years (witness the large number of POD books in Howard scholarship, most of which sold quite well considering the size of the field and the generally small market for literary criticism). More and more it’s becoming the norm for true book lovers to never set foot in a brick-and-mortar bookstore, places that are quickly becoming glorified coffee shops featuring clueless employees, frustratingly narrow inventories, and obscene prices. They are fast degenerating into the Blockbuster Videos of the publishing world, while online venues like Amazon serve as Netflix. Of course, for the lucky few having a big New York publisher’s marketing muscle behind you is a good thing, but the vast majority of authors can make more money with a lot less hassle by self-publishing. What used to be called the “mid-list” has vanished from the big houses and migrated to POD and smaller presses, to the point where it’s normal to see authors with already substantial careers resorting to POD when the economics make sense. It’s great to see entire genres ignored by the big conglomerates flourishing guerrilla-style like this, especially older stuff by politically-incorrect pulpsters that often are too forgotten or risque for today’s coterie of dainty mainstream editoresses.

The First Assassin is going to be listed on Amazon soon, but John gets more dough if you buy directly from the publisher, so head on over and pick up a copy. At $15 for a trade paperback (Morgan Holmes’ favorite format — not), it’s certainly competitively priced with the product put out by the big New York houses. And if you’re not regularly reading John’s blog, Hey Miller, you should put it into your rotation, both for the new material and for the reprinting of old items about stuff we fantasy fans care about, things like Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Heinlein, and of course Conan, Beowulf, and David Gemmell.


Charles Saunders Compares Conan and Jack Reacher

sidebar_author_saundersCharles R. Saunders, legendary Sword-and-Sorcery author and Friend of The Cimmerian, has posted a guest blog over at the Black Gate website. It’s a review of Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” series. A big reason why it should interest readers of  The Cimmerian (besides the obvious), is that Mr. Saunders compares Child’s peripatetic protagonist to Robert E. Howard’s Conan. (Continue reading this post)

Four-Volume Boxing Set Forthcoming From the REHF

Over on the Official Robert E. Howard Forum, [redacted] (at right) let the bulldog out of the bag. Here’s what he had to say…


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Conversations with the Weird Tales Circle Coming Our Way


Just posted on Bill Thom’s Coming Attractions

Centipede Press: Conversations with the Weird Tales Circle
Now available to order with the majority being released in late November
and early December.

Conversations with the Weird Tales Circle is a massive, oversized celebration of the lives of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, Seabury Quinn, E. Hoffmann Price, Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, Lee Brown Coye, Hannes Bok, August Derleth, Edmond Hamilton, Manly Wade Wellman, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Donald Wandrei, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, and many others. Each writer has their own section in the book, complete with a custom drawing of the author by noted artist Alex McVey.

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No Trick and Definitely Not a Treat


Ever since Clint Morris (pictured above), founder of, posted the “casting breakdown” for the upcoming Conan film from Lionsgate, there have been those who persist in claiming that the whole thing is a “trick” or a “hoax.” Such is not the case, and I have proof.

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Fabrice Tortey wins Le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire


Back in this post I clued you in that a pair of French Howard books, Les nombreuses vies de Conan (edited by Simon Sanahujas) and Échos de Cimmérie (edited by longtime Cimmerian subscriber Fabrice Tortey) were among the nominees in the “Essay” category for Le Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, a prestigious French award dedicated to Sci-fi, Weird & Fantasy fiction. Well, the results are in, and Fabrice’s Échos de Cimmérie took home the loot.

Here’s Fabrice (right) holding up his award certificate with his REH pal, runner-up Simon Sanahujas, playing the good sport.


Those of you who went to Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains last June were able to meet Fabrice — and if you subscribed to the print Cimmerian you’ve already read a trio of the essays from Échos de Cimmérie in English translation — so you know how both editor and book were eminently award-worthy. Congratulations to Fabrice for striking such a solid blow for Howard scholarship in France.