Okay, let’s deal with the obvious first. Nope, I’m not doing Conan. Why? Because I’ve read Howards Conan continuously since I was 14 years old, and it’s more than fair to say that I’m a fanboy. Conan is my go-to place when I need the equivalent of comfort food and can lift my mood whenever I need it to.
So I want to look elsewhere, at other pieces of Howards’ work, where I might be able to be a tad more critical, which is how I came to Almuric. Let’s face it, I had a lot to choose from, Howard put the Pro into prolific. You name a genre he had a go at writing in it, and if he wasn’t the best, he was certainly always right up there.
Like I said, I’m a fanboy.
Okay, as always, from this point on there will be spoilers.Almuric is another man-transported tale.
Almuric is another man-transported tale. The hero, a man born out of his time has to escape from the authorities here on earth. He’s sent to another planet using an excellent piece of handwavium. Once there he not only survives but thrives, beating the elements first and the natives next. The fight to survive, to continue existing improves him physically, making him more than he could ever have hoped to be on Earth while knocking the rough edges of civilization off him, returning him to an almost primordial state.
And yet he remains a hero. The story gets a lot more interesting once he reencounters humanity. Imprisoned, he fights, then gains the chance to win his freedom and more by fighting again. The skills he’s learned on Earth stand him in good stead,
The story gets a lot more interesting once he reencounters humanity. Imprisoned, he fights, then gains the chance to win his freedom and more by fighting again. The skills he’s learned on Earth stand him in good stead,
The story gets a lot more interesting once he reencounters humanity. Imprisoned, he fights, then gains the chance to win his freedom and more by fighting again. Given the opportunity to fight dirty he sticks to the rules, fights as a hero should. Honour is everything, once again – and I really can’t emphasize this enough as it seems to be the overarching truth about the greats from this period – there are no shades of gray. There is nothing that makes you feel bad about rooting for the hero because you know, you know hes on the side of the Gods.
An element that I found interesting, especially as it ties in with a lot of what is going on in the world today, is the idea that membership of a nation is to be earned. It’s a truism that something given for free will be treated as though it had no value, and by the time Esau is made a Kothian you know that he really values being a part of the tribe. Food for thought.
The story is straightforward. Boy meets girl, girl gets captured, boy has to save her. Along the way, we meet enemies of a diverse nature. All succumb to our hero. Some of the enemies are more fantastical than others, none of them Dunsany fantastical, but plenty weird enough thank you! A fight against a giant spider is worthy of special mention, nightmare inducing as it was. There’s an unending succession of foes until he finally achieves victory, each one tougher than the rest, and as always it’s a satisfying meal to be had. By the end, you can’t help but feel pride in the earthman who overcomes and wins. Go home team.
Almuric isn’t as good as the Conan stories. I don’t think Howard loved him as much if I’m honest. There is a sadness to the tale, an undercurrent of loneliness that is pervasive, colouring all it touches. The following lines touched me deeply, words perhaps straight from Howards’ heart.
“Life is too hard for me. I do not fit, somehow, as the others do. I bruise myself on its rough edges. I look for something that is not and never was.”
Or maybe I’m just a sentimental silly old sod.
That’s all for now, as always thanks for reading.