On a lark, I took out a book from the library that has the first short stories of the fictional character Conan the Cimmerian (or Barbarian). I like to read fantasy, but I've been slowly getting through the Lord of the Rings books (finished Book III, which is the first half of the Two Towers, not long ago) and they just bore the shit out of me. I know that the LOTR saga has a HUUUUUUUGE fanbase, and there is endless discussion surrounding that universe, but to me, Tolkien's books are a cure for insomnia.
I'd seriously look forward to opening up LOTR, and listen to the audio recording (which is a very good reading, BTW), just because I knew it would put me to sleep. Maybe the movies are a lot better, I haven't seen them. But as someone who does like to read fantasy, and who had finally gotten around to reading Tolkien, and expecting the saga-to-end-all-sagas, I was terribly disappointed.
But upon reading the first few short stories in this book, my faith in fantasy is restored. It has everything I expect and want in fantasy literature: healthy doses of action, plenty of mysticism, taut, to-the-point dialogue and narration (one of the things I hate about Tolkien is his tendency to describe everything in mind-numbing detail, down to a small weed in a plain). On the front page of the book is a quip from Stephen King, and it describes Robert Howard's writing perfectly: "Howard's writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks." I really couldn't describe it better than that.
Anyway, I'm off. I get my 2nd test results back tomorrow, hopefully they'll be nearly as good as my first.