The other day, I was ribbing my friend TomatoMan that there are other fantasy authors out there besides Tolkien and all of the folks that are… attempting to follow in his footsteps, to put it charitably.

Over the last year or two, I’ve been making a conscious effort to acquaint myself with more of these authors (as well as their science fiction counterparts). Such luminaries as Lovecraft (of whom I’ve been a fan for years), Moorcock, Lieber, Zelazny, Burroughs, and Howard. I’ve got a lot of stuff still to plow throw, but it’s been a blast. (Lieber, especially, in an absolute gem!)

Robert E. Howard, and his Conan stories in particular, have been something of a sticking point. I’ve read all kinds of things about how his work has been edited, rewritten, pastiched, folded, spindled and mutilated over the years. Mostly by well-meaning friends, but mutilated all the same. I’d heard good things about his material, though, and have wanted to read some of the Conan stuff for ages.

This morning, I discovered that Del Rey books is actually publishing the original, unadulterated tales here in the US. Until December of last year, when volume one was published, you could only read that material – restored to its original form – in British editions. In fact, I had those books in my shopping cart at before I discovered the Del Rey edition had come out.

So when we went to the mall today to run a couple of errands, I bought it. It’s a 496-page trade paperback. So far I’ve just read the introduction. But I’m really looking forward to diving in. (And volume two comes out in November. Which will give me something to read while I continue to wait for the next George RR Martin book….)